All of the great singers possess certain distinctive qualities that cannot easily be replicated or denied. It could be a highly personalized style that makes them instantly recognizable, an unrivaled sense of interpretation and phrasing, an otherworldly sense of soul or an ability to employ subtle vocal nuances that take a song to new heights. Aretha and Stevie have it and Michael and Marvin did too. Singer Phil Perry, one of the greatest balladeers of our time, certainly fits the bill. Born in Springfield, Illinois and raised in East St. Louis, he settled in the Los Angeles area after moving there in 1979 to record two albums as a duo (Perry and Sanlin) for Capitol Records with writing partner, Kevin Sanlin. Later, Perry wrote songs for the late Noel Pointer, and three songs for Aretha Franklin, including her hit United Together… Read more
As vocalist and composer Phil Perry’s flawless falsetto, velvety smooth pipes and keen musical sensibilities have made him one of the greatest voices in R&B. It is no wonder why Down Beat Magazine once dubbed Perry as “The Pavarotti of Jazz.” The Los Angeles Times raves, “Perry has tremendous range spotless falsetto, and his sheer enthusiasm…amazing pipes,” whileSmooth Jazz Magazine declares that Phil’s voice, “consistently oozes that natural sweetness and sincerity that can only come from a singer of his high caliber.” Jazz Times Magazinecaptured the heart and soul of Phil Perry when they declared that he creates “joyous, romantic magic.” One of the most in-demand singers on the music scene, Perry remains busy and has a list of enviable credits, i.e., Josh Groban, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Peabo Bryson, the late George Duke, Quincy Jones, Barbra Streisand, Dave Koz, Bobby Womack, and Rod Stewart. On January 20, 2015 Shanachie Entertainment will release Phil Perry’s eleventh album as a solo artist, and the sixth for the label, A Better Man.
“This album, for me, represents the opportunity to dig deeper into the needs of the people I belong to, and to take a look at the person I am and the person I want to be, and somehow bridge the gap between the two.”
A Better Man is a stellar collection of ten tracks featuring eight originals that prove Perry to be an equally gifted composer as he is a singer. Phil collaborates once again with master producer and pianist Chris “Big Dog” Davis (Kim Burrell, George Clinton, Maysa) who serves as the albums producer and who co-wrote all of the CD’s originals with Phil.
“Anytime I get to work with BIG DOG, I jump at the chance. He’s a genius musically so I never have any apprehension about where he’s going to take the music. As a producer and friend, he nurtures me into being both the song and the singer, at the same time. In the years we’ve worked together, the word that best describes our relationship is TRUST.”
The album’s opening number and title track finds Phil Perry confessing his love and devotion and making the promise to turn his ‘wrong into right.” About two minutes into the song he hits one of his signature show-stopping high notes that lets you know that the one-and-only Phil Perry is in the house and he means business! The dreamy “You’re The Only One” has all the makings of a classic wedding song and first dance favorite. ‘Big Dog’ strikes all the right chords and Perry delivers all the right lyrics and together they float on a groove that is sure to find its way into people’s hearts. Trumpeter Rick Braun joins Perry on the seductive “Feelin’ U,” and “Sorry I Let You Go” is an album highlight as Perry showcases his ability to drive a song home and bring every lyric to life with his crystal clear voice, impeccable diction and vocal wizardry. A Better Man also features the memorable and bluesy “Make It Rain,” which is the album’s first single. Also included on the album are two classic Curtis Mayfield reinventions.
“In my youth, Curtis Mayfield was a beacon of quality for me to want to reach. He’s a great singer, a socially aware composer, and one of the premier poets of the last century.He’s one of the artists that paved the way for me to enjoy opportunities that are now available to me. He created his own label and sound, and for a kid growing up in East St. Louis, he gave me a role model, and plenty to aspire to be!”
Perry’s stirring version of Mayfield’s “Gypsy Woman” creates a memorable and delightful moment on the album as he conjures up the beautiful imagery of his own “Gypsy Woman.” He also does justice to the Impressions hit “I’m So Proud,” which features the soulful and perfectly paired saxophone of Kim Waters. The original “Beautiful Girls” is a sweet number where Perry sings about the joy in his soul and stirring in his heart caused by the daughters that both he and Davis have raised as fathers.
‘Big Dog’s’ gospel inflected solo works perfectly on this hit-bound Quiet Storm number. Perry revisits his classic “Dreaming’s Out Of Season” and recaptures the same magic he created when he first recorded it with The Montclair’s. Just as you think things can’t get better Phil Perry shares the mic with Howard Hewett for the timeless “Stand Up.” The song is sure to be a crowd pleaser with its rousing and pulsating groove and inspirational message. Perry and Hewett croon “Stand up, time to get it right. Stand up stand up for your rights!” This dynamic duo’s call for more humanity and equality and is the perfect anthem that needs to be heard in today’s troubling times.
The allure of music grabbed Phil Perry at an early age. “Growing up I always knew that I wanted to be a singer,” recalls Phil. “I would watch and listen to all the great singers like Nat “King” Cole, Johnny Hartman, Arthur Prysock and Billy Eckstein that my mother listened to while she cleaned the house.” After a spell as the lead singer of the Montclairs (whose “Begging’s Hard To Do” was a moderate R&B hit and “Make Up For Lost Time” became a cult favorite in British soul music circles) in the early 70s, Phil quickly became one of the most sought-after backing vocalists in the music business. Phil launched his solo career in 1991 with THE HEART OF A MAN, which featured an impressive re-make of Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me” that hit #1 on the R&B charts. Phil’s 1994 album, PURE PLEASURE yielded another hit with his version of “If Only You Knew” and also featured a seven-minute version of The Spinners’ classic “Love Don’t Love Nobody.” Known for his skill in multiple musical genres, Phil began achieving success in the contemporary jazz arena through his featured vocals on albums by Lee Ritenour, The Rippingtons and others. His next solo album, ONE HEART ONE LOVE, hit the Top Five of the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart. 2000’s critically acclaimed BOOK OF LOVE, followed by the 2001 album MAGIC, which highlighted Phil’s songwriting prowess.
In 2006 Phil Perry released CLASSIC LOVE SONGS, putting his own stamp on such tunes as Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You,” and The Temptations’ “Just My Imagination.” The 2007 album, A MIGHTY LOVE, brought enthusiastic reaction from music buyers starving for the kind of authentic, heartfelt music that has been Phil’s stock in trade. SAY YES was released in 2013 and included imaginative and brilliant re-workings of such love songs as Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me”, and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It also featured a stirring duet of “Where Is The Love” with Chanté Moore that garnered considerable attention at radio and is listed on Billboards 2014 Top 50 Smooth Jazz songs at #21.
A proud father of four adult children, Phil Perry has often performed with his wife of thirty years, Lillian “Tang” Tynes, a notable vocalist, who was discovered by Donny Hathaway and later became a busy studio vocalist and contractor in the Chicago music scene, recording albums and jingles with Hathaway, as well as Leroy Hutson, Richard Evans, and many others. She’s toured with Ramsey Lewis. Eddie Kendricks, Norman Connors, and Philip Bailey; recorded a duet with Ray Parker; is featured in a GRP Beatles Tribute with Russ Freeman of the Rippingtons; and appeared in The National Touring Company of THE WIZ. She appears on her husband’s first five albums, including his hits Call Me, Forever, If Only You Knew, Love Don’t Love Nobody, and the sensuous duet Do Not Disturb.
Biography courtesy of The Official Website of Phil Perry
01 – Phil Perry – Amazing Love (The Heart Of A Man, 1991)
02 – Phil Perry – Heaven (Pure Pleasure, 1994)
03 – Phil Perry – Heart Of My Heart (My Book Of Love, 2000)
04 – Phil Perry – A Better Man (A Better Man, 2015)
05 – Phil Perry – Sorry I Let You Go (A Better Man, 2015)
Background music during the interview:
Phil Perry – Amazing Love, The Montclairs – Do I Stand A Chance, Phil Perry – Forever, Anita Baker – The Songstress, Phil Perry – You’ll Never Know, Phil Perry – Magic, Phil Perry feat. Najee – Tonight Just Me And You