PHIL PERRY first came to the attention of music fans as the lead singer / writer of the Montclairs, with “Dreamin’s Out of Season” (1970) and “Begging’s Hard to Do” – a moderate hit in 1972. After moving to Los Angeles in 1979 with writing partner Kevin Sanlin (co-leader of the Montclairs), the duo was signed to a Capitol Records contract. After two albums, Perry and Sanlin went their separate ways, and Perry soon became one of the most sought-after back-up vocalists on the L.A. scene.
His bright, multi-octave range played a supporting role on dozens of albums by such artists as Leon Haywood, Anita Baker, Dave Koz, George Duke, Barbra Streisand, Roberta Flack, Johnny Mathis, Bill Withers, the Pointer Sisters, Freddie Hubbard, Bobby Womack, and Wil Downing.
Quincy Jones invited Perry to record and tour with him in the early ’80s, and that exposed him to a greater audience. Jones introduced him to Paul Anka, with whom he worked for several years.
By 1991, Perry was offered a second Capitol Records contract, and he stepped out as a solo artist with The Heart of a Man, an album most notable for Perry’s passionate remake of Aretha Franklin’s “Call Me.” The song went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts in 1991.
His follow-up album, 1994’s Pure Pleasure, was snatched by MCA/GRP after Capitol’s urban roster shut down, and included fantastic remakes of “After the Love is Gone” and “If Only You Knew” and a seven-minute cover of the Spinners’ “Love Don’t Love Nobody” that was sheer magic.
During the ’90s, Phil Perry also received increased coverage on smooth jazz radio through his guest work on albums by Lee Ritenour, the Rippingtons, and others, and inspired Windham Hill subsidiary Private Music to sign Perry, along with Barry White and Peabo Bryson, in an attempt to become the major label in the confluence of the urban adult contemporary and smooth jazz formats.
Phil Perry’s Private Music debut, One Heart One Love, was aimed straight at the smooth jazz market and hit the top five on the back of its killer title track, despite being perhaps his weakest album. His follow-up album, My Book of Love, received less attention, but was a far stronger album. Book was also the album on which Perry began to take a more active role in songwriting and production.
This led to his lead songwriting role on 2001’s Magic, an excellent album on Peak Records that showed Phil Perry in complete control over his music, but as fate would have it, this album was released on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, the same day he was to perform two lunch-hour concerts at the World Trade Center. While Perry’s life was miraculously spared during the terrorist attack, the release of this exceptional album was lost in the aftermath of the tragedy.
The disaster began a period of creative mourning, but after the 3-4 year hiatus, Perry returned to the music scene in a rave featured performance on Don Grusin’s smooth jazz project labeled The Hang. The live concert recording reunited Perry with fellow artists and friends such as Patti Austin, Dave Grusin, and an all-star ensemble of musicians.
Phil penned the title song on Bobby Caldwell’s Perfect Island Night, and the breathtaking hit “United Together,” one of several songs he wrote on Aretha Franklin’s comeback album in the early ’80s. Other artists have recorded his compositions, including Noel Pointer, Lee Ritenour, Ernie Watts, Don Grusin, Najee, and Les McCann.
The latest three solo albums, released on Shanachie Records, feature a breathtaking collection of beloved R&B/pop hits produced by the incomparable Chris “Big Dog” Davis. Classic Love Songs (2006) and A Mighty Love (2007) were highly successful comeback albums, resulting in Perry winning the Soul Tracks Readers Choice Award for “Male Vocalist of the Year” in 2007.
Perry’s latest release, Ready For Love (2008) is a lush production, rich with Perry originals. Released in March of 2008, the album hit the Billboard Adult Contemporary music chart at No. 4 the first week of its release. The Gift of Love, a duo project with the Tony-winning songstress, Melba Moore, was released in 2009.
Phil Perry’s official website is philperry.net.