We'd like to Welcome the one and only
Phil Perry, R&B Soul Singer Living Legend, of his celebrated CD's 'Ready For Love', 'Magic' 'One Heart One Love',
'My Book Of Love', 'The Heart Of A Man', 'The Gift Of Love', 'Pure Pleasure' &
so much more, to the OL Oceanliner Notes Weekly feature as our Special Guest Artist!
Welcome Phil, and thank you for giving us
and all of the OL Site Visitors, for what will be a 7-part Interview on the
Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, for the entire week of August 15, 2010.
Once again, thank you and welcome...
Thank you for extending the invitation!
Our excitement of having You on this
OL Interview, can barely be contained,
Mr. Perry. But then, we can't help it.
You are R&B Soul Royalty; so let us first honor and say 'Thank You', Phil Perry,
for filling so many hearts with love and joy, worldwide for so long.
Simply first, how are You?
I'm well. I've been doing some isolated dates with Norman Brown, writing some new material with Barry Eastmond and
Garry Brown, so I'm staying busy.
I did an engagement recently in San Francisco in the Rrazz Room in the Hotel Nikko,
as part of the Angela Bofill Experience,
with Maysa Leak and Dave Valentin; and that was a lot of fun. In fact, on October 8th,
I'll join Angela and Maysa again in New York City for another Angela Bofill Experience
on a cruise ship.
You've been wowing Audiences worldwide and setting the Record Industry on fire for over 40 + years. As the OL Viewers follow You, yet on another venture, can You please Phil, take us back to your beginning roots
as a Professional Singer?
My roots in music are firmly planted in R&B.
I grew up in the MidWest in East St. Louis, Illinois, and I was very fortunate to be exposed to lots of different styles of music. Then after becoming a member of the Montclairs, I was thrust into composition and arranging responsibilities at an early age.
So I guess it was a wonderful beginning.
With a such a naturally gifted, soulful and powerful voice like yours, it's very clear,
that you were born to sing and uplift so many, from the very start. Who was your very first audience to ever witness this
Other than my immediate family,
I'd have to say my first audience was the good people who came to midnight mass,
at St. Elizabeths Church. When I was about 8 or 9 years old, one of the older boys in the choir couldn't sing and so I got the opportunity to sing the lead.
When my Grandmother heard my voice,
she stood up and turned around to face me because the boys choir was in the rear of the church, and by the end of the song, the whole congregation had joined her and stood up. My first solo performance at mass got a standing ovation!
Before your illustrious Solo Career began, You sang lead with the Vocal Group,
The Montclairs. Can you take us back there for a moment and your memories with them?
It was a time for lots of proving of myself. There were lots of challenges.
Rehearsals were very intense because some of the members worked, so the schedule was very unpredictable. It gave me the opportunity to write and arrange, so it was a great tutorial, but the group dynamic was difficult for all of us. Multiple personalities,
and different opinions and thoughts about goals...was difficult. It was where things began, but it wasn't meant to be where they ended. Overall, I can't imagine how I would have wound up on the road I have traveled on without the Montclairs. In spite of the challenges it presented to me, I can't think of a better start for my lifes' work.
In addition to your great song originals that we all enjoy today (and we'll talk much about all throughout the Interview this week),
You were also writing music during your days with the Montclairs and had such hits in the 70's as "Dreamin's Out of Season" and
"Begging's Hard to Do." In general, how
do you feel Phil, about the new
Radio Formats today, compared to when you first started out with the Montclairs?
When I started out, radio was community based, so you'd hear local D.J.'s playing the music which was being requested by the folks right there in the community. There was greater support for local groups and singers, and of course, since there was a line of division between 'black and white' radio, soul/R&B music was greatly supported by black people.
Groups were popular and people could go to a local theater and see fabulous stage shows featuring those groups. Radio was more supportive and responsive to the people
back then, as well.
As we moved more into the mainstream,
we began to change the names of the genre, and we got away from the words 'soul' and 'R&B'... and even though I have a jazz style,
I am still very comfortable with the R&B/Soul label, because that's what I sing. Those are the roots I cultivated musically. Jazz is Jazz, and I can sing and write classic Jazz standards, too; but where in radio nowadays would that be heard?
Smooth Jazz is like instrumental R&B, primarily musicians, with very few singers mixed in. But when you say R&B or Soul, you immediately think of Singers.
'Know what I mean?
But nowadays, it all falls under the category of Smooth Jazz, and that can be somewhat confusing to those of us from the Old School. Fortunately, satellite formats are allowing people to have more choices, and that has been great for me and
others in my genre, since you seldom hear artists li'e us on the radio anymore.
I can remember a time when I was being repeatedly criticized for not being radio friendly, even though I have recorded digitally since my first solo album. While managers wanted me to change my style,
I never did. My style is the same as its always been, from way back when I was a teen.
They can call it what they want. As long as
I have the chops, as an Artist, I will always be who I am, singing what I sing, how I sing, and for the reason I sing; to keep romantic music alive. It's simply what I do, and it seems that folks really like it.
We couldn't agree more, Phil...
From Illinois to California, You made that move, and as recording for Capitol Records, the rest is, as we say "L.A. History"!
It didn't take long for You to become one of the most sought after Singers in the Record Industry; recording all kinds of wonderful Vocal tracks on endless numbers of A-list Recording Artists' and Entertainers' Albums, even to this day. Can you share with us Phil, your dynamic Recording Vocal Technique, when you're doing background vocals
in the Studio?
I like the sound of textured background vocals, so I lie to stack different interpretations of the same part.
Once I feel what I hear, I stack accordingly.
Though there are so many to choose from, can you please for us, Phil, rattle off some of your favorite Recording Sessions, when you've recorded with other Artists?
I really enjoyed the ensemble productions like George Duke's FAME session,
Lee Ritenour and the GRP All-Stars
LIVE AT THE COCONUT GROVE.
When Don Grusin invited me to join
THE HANG project, it actually pulled me out of my post 911 depression, because I had been scheduled to sing two concerts at the WTC that day, during the lunch hour, just as
I had for many the years before that day.
My 5th album MAGIC was also being released that day. Needless to say, the album was forgotten while the country grieved.
I grieved as well, because I performed many shows there, and there were special people who worked in those Towers, who always came down to hear me.
It was rough and something happened to my spirit and so I didn't record for over 5 years after the attack. Then THE HANG came along and pulled me out of my funk, and from that point on, I was cool. It's a great project,
and everyone should check it out.
Recording the FOREPLAY LIVE IN SESSION along with Chaka Khan and Philip Bailey,
was also memorable, and from the number of hits on YouTube, I guess others agree as well. I had worked with Chaka before on Quincy Jones THE DUDE album, when I sang background on the duet she sang with
Ray Charles - "I'll Be Good To You."
Sometimes I think the reason I didn't reach my stride as a soloist earlier is because
I really didn't mind being in the background,
or part of an ensemble. It took my wife a long time to convince me that I had
solo artist potential.
In the world of Smooth Jazz, one of OL's favorites is your Guest recording on Guitarist Lee Ritenour's "Earth Run" Album, on the track, "If I'm Dreaming (Don't Wake Me)," with that Earth Wind & Fire, flavor.
A great recording.
What was that session like?
Maurice White had already pre-recorded a scratch lead vocal so I just matched his vocal. It was easy.
And now, as no surprise, pretty much expected by all of your many fans worldwide, your Solo Career, Phil, has taken off so nicely over the years, and has been soaring in the air ever since. Starting with
"The Heart Of The Man" CD, on the
Capitol Records label. Your own cover of Aretha Franklin's "Call Me" is brilliant.
How did you come to pick that song
for this album?
Aretha Franklin's 1st single on Arista as a song I had written with Chuck Jackson called "United Together." That same album also featured three other songs I'd written with Chuck (Together Again,
Take Me With You & School Days).
"Call Me" was my way of thanking Aretha for giving me that once in a lifetime opportunity. It's really a huge blessing to have the
Queen of Soul record four of your songs!
On "The Heart Of The Man" CD, you're also covering Producer David Foster's Pop Ballad classic "The Best of Me," as he also an Arranger on this CD.
What was it like to work with him?
Well, David wasn't in the studio when
I recorded the vocal on 'The Best of Me',
but later I had the good fortune of traveling to Japan with him and
His musicality blew me away, and it was quite an experience to perform with him in a 'Live' setting.
Phil, as we travel through all of your great Discography of all of your CD's, throughout this week; we'd like to ask You for each CD, what was your shining inspiration to record,
'The Heart Of The Man' and what was your favorite track on this CD?
The Heart of the Man was my 'coming out' as a solo artist. Something I had never even thought of before (really!), but my wife Lillian and Bobby Colomby, who signed me to Capitol, saw the Artist in me. Of all the songs on the album, I like 'Say Anything'
the most, because she sang background on it,
and the song was/is...
where our relationship has been for the last 25 years. 'Say anything you want to me, but don't say goodbye' That's a heavy lyric Robbie Nevel wrote, and it describes our 'staying power' as a couple.
Thank you Phil. We look forward tomorrow in Part 2 of this 7 part Oceanliner Notes Weekly Series, as R&B Soul Legend Singer...
Phil Perry, shares more liner notes on the making of his latest CD Singles.
Thank you very much Phil, for coming on as our Special Guest Artist! We'll see you tomorrow! And thank you all for visiting
OL's Oceanliner Notes Weekly!