what do you get when you mix two parts baptist choir, one part anita baker and one part martha wash? the four sister singing sensation, perrí. raised in bakersfield, california, lori, darlene, carolyn and sharon perry moved to los angeles to pursue careers in music. working day jobs and showcasing their talents at night, a tape that the women had made eventually came to the attention of jazz musician pat metheny. the tape, which included five or six of metheny's own tunes "complete with lyrics (to both the melodies and the solos), four-part soulful harmony and a point of view on this music that i would have never imagined possible if i wasn't sitting there listening to it on tape" impressed metheny enough to invite perrí to sit in on a gig with him and his band. perrí's rendition of metheny's "airstream" drew a similar reaction from the crowd, that it had from metheny, and lori, darlene, sharon and carolyn received what would be the first of many well-deserved standing ovations.
four years later, perrí released celebrate and the world was introduced to a gospel-inspired mix of rhythm and blues, the likes of which had never before been heard. the album included two of metheny's songs"jaco two" and "airstream"with lyrics penned by perrí. while songs like "celebrate" and andre crouch's "he never sleeps" paid homage to the women's commitment to the lord, "maybe tomorrow" and "you take me to heaven" dealt with such common r&b topics as love. the bossa nova flavored "alone" rounded out the album, showing that perrí could sing their way from the churches of the south to the streets of brazil and back again.
in 1988, perrí released the flight. while their sophomore effort featured a more marketable style of music, the sisters remained largely overlooked, receiving little recognition for what may be the most vocally-charged album of that year. songs like "secret weapon", "fall in love" and "i don't wanna loose you're love" showcased perrí's impeccable harmonies and established an uncompromisingly high standard for the album as a whole. "the combination of lori's unique phrasing and perrí's inspired lyrics, along with the tight harmonies of the sisterscarol, darlene and sharonpaint vivid pictures that will touch your heart and soul," said the queen of the torchsong, anita baker, in the album's introduction. while the flight's material tended to deal with affairs of the heart, "no place to go" laid out a blueprint for janet jackson and crystal waters of the diva as a social commentator by tackling the issue of homelessness. while the gospel influence is apparent throughout the album, only one song"eternal life"directly deals with the subject of spirtuality.
coming back strong in 1990, perrí released tradewinds, further demonstrating their solid harmonies and powerful delivery. "talk to me" and "say you will" recall the tight vocal arrangements and elemental quality of labelle and provide a bridge to those who would follow, such as brownstone and en vogue. following the basic structure of the flight, tradewinds contains its fair share of songs about loveboth requited and unrequitedbut also demonstrates social consciousness with "mary, mary", a song about addiction and life on the streets. most recently, perrí has continued their studio work, providing background vocals to at least one track on the how stell got her groove back soundtrack. additionally, lori perry can be heard on patti labelle's flame.
in an industry far too focused upon looks, perrí have managed to prove that beauty originates from within and radiates outward. consistantly underrated and overlooked, they have perserved, providing their loyal fans with music that is as inpirational as it is awe-inspiring. additionally, perrí have demonstrated a dedication to family and religion in a time when to do so is not fashionable. divas from head to toe, the women of perrí are models of intelligence, love, style, talent and strength.