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Lori Perry Interview
Listeners of the beautiful passionate vocals of Lori Perry might describe her voice as heavenly. How you hear this talented lady depends on the listener but there is one thing that can't be debated, her music is from another world. While some of us are content to talk in our sleep, Perry has raised the bar and sings in her sleep. "It's funny how I get melodies in my head while I am sleeping so I keep a little digital recorder at my bedside. When I do hear these melodies I just put them on tape. (The next morning) I will listen to what I have recorded in the middle of the night," she said, explaining her sometimes unconventional method for writing songs.
Many will know Lori Perry for her work in Perri, a group she comprised with her three sisters Carol, Darlene and Sharon Perri toured together for many years with well known artists such as; Anita Baker, Al Jarreau, Roberta Flack, George Benson and Seal. Perri's blend of Jazz and R&B tunes attracted a solid base of appreciative fans. In 1992 Perri provided vocals on the self titled debut album for Houston sax man Everette Harp. The style and quality of Perry's voice has often been compared to Anita Baker and Patti Labelle. One listen to her most recent CD I Found It In You and you understand the comparisons.
I Found It In You marks a return to her Gospel heritage. She said, "No Longer Run" is a tune that came to me in my living room one day. I was tired of just going in circles. I said Lord I will no longer run from what your will for my life. I got tired of doing it my way. I want to do it His way because His way is best for me."
Perry said of the songs on the album, "The music represents (the songs) that I have been holding in my heart for sometime and that I have wanted to put out."
"I had been doing secular music for a long time and I wanted to go back to my roots. It brings praise and honor to God who gives me everything. I am so blessed to have Him who gives everything to me. I owe my very life to Him so why not honor Him and give back to Him. It is only a smidgen or a portion of what He gives to me every day," said Perry.
"I have always loved Jazz and I have always wanted to sing the good news of God so one day in 1987 I decided to name it Gospel Jazz. (I wanted to) sing about the music that I love. It was born back then but it took almost twenty years to come to fruition," she said.
The CD I Found It In You is really and appendix to her 2004 release of "Wrote This Song." "I enhanced the songs. I added "Love Lifted Me" because that was my grandfather's favorite song. "Psalm 23" has always been a favorite prayer of mine," she says in explaining the presence of a song by the same name.
In creating the album she turned to an old friend George Duke. "I have worked with George for about eight years. I have learned so much from that man. He is a brilliant wonderful producer, father and husband. I have nothing but respect for him. He has a lot of knowledge about music. He will sit and tell me stories and I tell him, 'You need to write your memoirs.' It is always a pleasure to work with him because he allows me to be who I am. He always gives me a place to stand out front. I love artists who are not intimidated by the talents of others. He enhanced what I have to offer. When I asked George to be a part of the CD yes couldn't come out (of his mouth) fast enough. He gave us the studio free of charge. It was just him letting me know that he appreciates me."
Like most good artisans Perry works hard at her craft, "I see the changes and I try to adjust. I am trying to reinvent what I do and not be left behind in an eighties world. I am adjusting to the business."
Her extra effort also includes being very involved with the production side of her projects. "I am hands on because nobody knows better than you what you hear inside of your head. I don't want to hold all the reins. She then puts on a bratty voice and says, "I am not greedy in the sense that, 'It's my thing and I am going to do it my way.' I welcome any idea that (others contribute)."
After their mother died prematurely the Perry sisters got an early introduction to music when they went to live with their grandparents in Bakersfield. Their grandfather was the pastor of a church and the Perry girls along with some cousins formed the church choir. The choir became the forerunner of Perri.
Perry reminisces, "I went to a Pat Metheny concert in the eighties (1985) and was just blown away. (Later) I locked myself in a room and wrote all lyrics to his (music). We went to a studio and put the words on vinyl and sent it to him just to show appreciation for his music. He was floored. He was coming to San Diego and asked us to do a gig with him." A talent scout from MCA Records was in the audience, noticed them and eventually the ladies were offered their first recording contract. "Our first album was Celebrate," she says.
In recent years Perry has collaborated on two of Brian Culbertson's songs, "Going To Miss You" and "Getting Over You." "I had met Brian through a former manager of mine who died of leukemia. His name was Howard Lowell. Nobody knew he was sick. He was just this loving guy who would try to hook you up with anyone that he thought you should collaborate with. In his dying days he (Lowell) kept calling Brian and I and saying, 'You have to meet.' After we (Culbertson and her) met (Lowell) went into the hospital and died. I went over to Brian's house and we were both so saddened by Lowell's death that we wrote "Going to Miss You." We toured together and I am looking forward to the opportunity to work with Brian again in the coming years."
As she spoke to me from her home in Studio City California Perry recalled two highlights in her career. One stems from her song "No Place To Go" recorded on a Perri album. The inspiration for the song came from her conversation with a homeless person on the streets of Los Angeles. The song was a big hit in Detroit and the mayor of the city presented the Perry sisters with the key to the metropolis. The gesture was acknowledgement that they had elevated awareness to the plight of the homeless.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.