Fans of Jazz music will know Lori Perry best for her days in the quartet Perri with her three sisters Carol, Darlene and Sharon. Perri had a stellar run in the eighties, touring with artists such as Roberta Flack, George Benson, Anita Baker and Seal. Perry has recorded with Brian Culbertson, George Michael, Elton John, George Duke and Cher. As she spoke to me from her home in Studio City in the USA Perry talked about her solo career, reminisced about the days with Perri and spoke enthusiastically about her new CD I Found It In You.
I Found It In You serves as an appendix to the 2004 release Wrote This Song. I Found It In You has enhanced grooves and a couple of more songs than the earlier album. She says 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. The CD is my baby."
When you listen to Perry's passionate vocals on songs such as "Nine Eleven", "On My Mind" and "Wrote This Song" you may think her music sounds other worldly. It is, sort of. 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 says explaining her sometimes unconventional method for writing songs.
In creating the album she called upon 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."
Perry was very involved in the production of I Found It In You. "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. I am not greedy in the sense that, "It's my thing and I am going to do it my way," she says mimicking a bratty tone with her voice. She adds, "I welcome any idea that (others contribute).
Perry also collaborated with Jazz icon Brian Culbertson to write "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."
While Perry has always been highly regarded by those in the music industry, fans, radio stations and critics have often overlooked, not panned her work. "Sometimes I can get mad because I am not up there receiving a Grammy but I am happy for those that do. I know that my turn is coming if I don't faint. I cannot give up no matter how long it takes. I believe my turn is coming. I need to work at my craft and sooner or later somebody will say, 'Hey this girl is good.' I see the changes (in the industry) and I try to adjust. I am trying to reinvent what I do and not be left behind in an eighties world." I Found It In You should go a long way towards a new generation of music listeners recognizing Perry as possessing one of the most gifted voices in Jazz music.
Perry recalled two career highlights for me. 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 on the American west coast. The song was a big hit in another US city Detroit Michigan 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.
She continues, "I think that (whole experience) has been the most rewarding for me as well as singing with Donald Fagan (Steely Dan). I just love him as a writer, singer and producer. We did "The Caves of Altrima" on one of the Perri albums and at that time he wasn't letting anyone use his publishing rights. He (allowed) us to do "The Caves of Altrima" and it turned out great. She received an invitation to perform with Fagan in Los Angeles. It was in part orchestrated by her friend Ricky Lawson who was the drummer for Fagan. I couldn't sit quietly (during rehearsal) listen to all that great Steely Dan music and not sing a word. He was like, 'Wow you know all of my stuff!' I told Donald, 'I will just sing the background (vocals) for you (during the concert). That was probably one of my great highlights as well."
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By Joe Montague