By Patte Purcell
About 5 years ago I was at the Riviera to see Will Donato and Art of Sax and a vocalist sat in and blew my socks off with an acapella version of “At Last.” The vocalist was Peggie Perkins, and I’ve been wanting to see her perform that song again ever since. The best part is she will be performing it at the Celebrity Jam Fest on Oct. 5.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Peggie and we chatted like old friends. (We have been Facebook Friends for years now). We have similar backgrounds so it was fun to talk with her. She’s a native of Chicago, the bastion of jazz and they moved to California in 1969. Her mom was also a vocalist who recorded 78 records. She met her husband (Peggie’s dad) at a nightclub she performed in.
Peggie told me that she was in every school choir that she could find. When she graduated from high school she went to her local junior college to pursue an art degree for 2 years (her dad was also an artist) but decided what she really wanted to do was sing. She credits one of her idol’s (John Lennon) death, with her decision to fully embrace her choice. She said “I need to sing” and so she did.
One of her choir teachers introduced her to her first real gig. She got an offer to be in a band and go on the road with them. It was New Wave music. She then was offered a position with a heavy metal band of 6 guys who did all original music. The constant strain on her voice forced her to quit the band or retain permanent voice damage. After 7 weeks of not speaking or singing she was good to go and in 1983 joined a top 40 band, The All Nite Express, who also performed at “Hot August Nights” Event & Car Show in Reno -Tahoe for 10 years running as a 50’s group called The Fabulous Chevelles. he still sings with them today. They do music from the 1940’s – to present.
She was also performing regularly in Las Vegas with a 3 girl group and a 6 member band at places like the Flamingo Hilton, The Hilton, and The Frontier.
In addition to playing with many small Jazz trios around So Cal, including Lew Matthews and The Ron Kobayashi Trio, she also performs with two 18 piece big bands called The Yachtsmen and The Windmill Big Band.
They play the classic swing music 1920’s through 1960’s?
She loves gospel music and was invited by Yve Evans and her daughter Eva Dupree to sing with them at the Idyllwild Jazz Festival with “Voices of Praise” but ended up having to have emergency surgery. She’s performed in the Salt Lake Jazz Festival twice including performing between Diane Reeves and Diane Shur, two of her favorites.
She also performs weekly for hospitals. This is something she’s been doing for years. She particularly loves to sing for older people and those with Alzheimer’s who surprisingly sing along to the songs from the 1920’s that she sings especially for them. Even though their memories are failing they recognize her when she comes in. Isn’t this an amazing testimonial to the power of music?
She’s recorded one CD called At Last, which was released in 2008. She was just invited to do another CD, an R&B selection, in October of this year. It will feature tunes from the 50’s Peggy Lee, Ruth Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin, just to name a few. She’s always wanted to do a blues CD.
Peggie performs in the Orange County and LA areas, but would like to do more in the desert.
To contact Peggie visit her site at www.peggieperkins.com
Peggie will be gracing the stage at the Celebrity Jam Fest on Wednesday, Oct. 5 from 6-9 pm at the Woodhaven Country Club in Palm Desert. There is an Artist Appreciation party from 5-6 with wine tasting, liquor tasting, and food pairings. The 3 hour jam features 20 top national artists and local favorites. To purchase tickets at http://www.purplepass.com/celebrityjamfest or call 1-800-316-8559. Tickets range from $30 General Admission to $45 assigned table seating or $60 for VIP seating with Artist Appreciation Party with wine, liquor tastings and food pairings. For questions about the event call 1-702-219-6777.
Patte Purcell – Muze Muzic