When Victory released her first two recordings on Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label -- her EP It’s a New Dawn (2017), and the critically acclaimed debut album The Broken Instrument (2018) -- the multi-faceted folk, jazz and soul singer/songwriter created works with personal musical narratives reflecting her deeply held beliefs. From the start of her career, Victory has always been about finding fresh ways to express her truth. Though musically grounded in her unique R&B fusion vibe, Victory’s highly anticipated new album Glory Hour is radically different, a bold and inspirational 18-track collection that marks her first official foray into gospel music.
Victory set the tone for the inspiring stylistically eclectic excitement of Glory Hour, with the release of its lead single “El Shaddai,” a contemplative, urban flavored song whose slow building, funky grooves and ethereal yet deeply emotional vocals serve as invitations to lift up our eyes and cast all care aside. The track’s kinetic dance ensemble-driven video had more than 1.2 M views on Facebook in its first month of release. Victory says, “I feel ‘El Shaddai’ resonates with this darker state of being that a lot of our society is in right now, while invoking the potency of the name of God to answer it. It’s a segue into what’s coming from me, while honoring my roots as a soul singer.”
Growing up in a family deeply committed to music and live performances, Victory Boyd is one of nine siblings who sang in the Boys & Girls Choir of Detroit, an organization founded by her father John Boyd. Taking music seriously as a career from the get-go, she began singing with the choir at age four, and later studied jazz guitar. When she was 12, the family moved to North Bergen, New Jersey, and they started busking together using various names – including Peace Industry Music Group – at NYC tourist attractions and on subway platforms. The Boyds became particularly renowned for their appearances in Central Park.
Victory and four of her siblings -- older brother Abraham and younger siblings Angel, Israel, and Momo, later formed the offshoot group Infinity’s Song, which rose to national prominence in 2015 after pop singer Tori Kelly happened upon them performing UNITED’s “Oceans” one day in Central Park and joined in. A video of the impromptu performance went viral (1.2M views on YouTube) and led to an appearance by Kelly and Infinity’s Song on ABC’s “The View.” Also in 2015, Peace Industry Music Group released Infinity’s Song’s self-titled debut album. Victory was then personally signed by Jay-Z to Roc Nation, releasing It’s A New Dawn. The EP featured her beautiful renditions of songs by two of her greatest influences, Nina Simone (“Feeling Good”) and Stevie Wonder (“Overjoyed”). In 2020, Infinity’s Song released their label debut Mad Love.
Though Victory grew up going to church, it wasn’t until a lifechanging bike accident at age 20 – that she was really forced to understand why she believed what she believed. Spending months healing from the trauma of a broken arm, broken jaw, losing teeth and having her mouth wired shut opened the door for a literal “come to Jesus” period where she came to more deeply understand the Gospel and the point of having a Savior. Her breakthrough song trilogy, “Broken Instrument,” emerged from her revelation that though we as human beings are sometimes broken physically, emotionally and spiritually, we still have value to others and God.
“I came to understand that it was not my responsibility to be victorious in my own strength,” Victory says. “It was okay if I was fragile and weak and didn’t have all the answers. Despite the pain and suffering I was going through, this became the most beautiful time in my life – because it was never about how good and powerful I could be, but how good, strong and victorious Jesus is. Since then, it’s been my mission to share my testimony and faith with music, and I’m grateful to present Glory Hour as the latest expression of that.”
Victory attributes her transition from pop folk soul-jazz to gospel to her friendship and working relationship in the intervening years with Kanye West. When Kanye heard her perform the epic three-part title track from The Broken Instrument at a private concert for billionaire Robert Smith not long after they first met, he was blown away, and wanted to work with her. Inviting her to join the vast creative team that was working with the rap mogul on his 2019 album Jesus is King by contributing lyrics to “Closed on Sunday” and “God Is,” Kanye became something of a big brother to her, reminding her that there’s power in the name of Jesus, and that she should declare it in her own music.
She then felt inspired to write and record gospel songs whenever time allowed her. She worked diligently for a year and a half at The Secret Place, the New Jersey based studio she opened in early 2020 (right before the pandemic). She penned the tunes on a baby grand piano situated before two eight-foot-tall windows that overlooked the NYC skyline; bringing her passion and artistry to the songs and spoken word pieces.
In a time when so many artists are content with dropping singles and the occasional EP, Victory makes a true statement by creating a full-length studio album featuring 11 original songs, a musical prologue, the aforementioned acoustic covers of two traditional hymns and three spoken word “Glory Hour” interludes.
On Glory Hour, the singer and multi-instrumentalist plays piano on the soaring ballad “Glory to God”; and acoustic guitar on “Just Like in Heaven,” the choir and blues-infused “Rejoice,” sparse, lilting, vocally surreal versions of “His Eye is On The Sparrow,” and “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” Otherwise, her vocals are buoyed by a dynamic rotating ensemble of musicians on tracks alternately produced by three multi-talented young forces that were key to bringing Glory Hour to life – Kaleb Moten, Space Jones, and Grammy award winner Stephen Blake Kanicka.
“El Shaddai” offers a powerful message, while “Just Like In Heaven” finds her praying for God to come and restore everything that’s broken. “I Don’t Have to Pretend” is a potent symphonic that acknowledges that when it’s a spiritual “nighttime” in our lives, we don’t have to pretend that it’s a beautiful sunny day. We can acknowledge that it’s dark and wait with expectancy for God to redeem the darkness with His Glory at the right time.
Victory sees “Rejoice” as the album’s pivot point where everything starts getting brighter, and she continues her affirmations about Jesus’ work on the cross on “Righteous” and “I Know It Was the Blood.” After declaring her ongoing quest to be closer to the Lord with “One Thing,” she gets into what she calls “the Scripture songs” – including “Warfare, “David’s Brothers” and “The Secret Place” (aka the “Psalm 91” song) – which speak to obedience and trusting in God to help us through the battles in our lives.
Explaining the origins of the songs on Glory Hour and the literal and symbolic meaning of the title, Victory simply says, “It’s the time of day when the Sun rises and swallows up darkness. It’s also my favorite time to be in The Secret Place spontaneously creating, where I sit at the piano with no agenda or plan other than to be a vessel that the Glory of the Son could flow through.”