This songstress delivers each performance with pleasure, insight and passion. Born in Detroit, Michigan, currently living in San Fernando Valley, California, Perlene is the daughter of local jazz pianist, the late Richard "Dick" Thurston. Perlene is stylistically versatile infusing her warm personal approach to jazz, standards, ballads, blues, pop, R&B, a bit of rock, country/western, latin/calypso and some gospel selections. Her large and evolving repertoire is all delivered with feeling.
She became involved in the performing arts at an early age in Detroit, singing in several choirs and local groups which led to appearances at Baker's Keyboard Lounge, the Fireside Room of the Twenty Grand, and later being featured with the Dave Aikens Trio at the Top Hat Club in Albany, New York. Moving to Los Angeles, Perlene performed with her father's trios and bands in several venues, including The Standard Club in Cheviot Hills (later called the Cheviot Hills Country Club), the Coconut Grove of the Ambassador Hotel, and the Hollywood Palladium. She expanded into working with several other trios and quartets, including the Chuck Rowan Trio Plus One at the Jolly Roger and Donkin's Inn, both located in Marina del Rey; the Freddie Robinson Trio at Charlie Brown's in Marina del Rey; Dodge Bolton's Music Unlimited in the mid West, including Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and later provided both lead and background vocals for various H.B. Barnum productions in Hollywood.
Following in her father's footsteps, Perlene, through the USO, toured Korea, Japan, Guam and Hawaii with actress Ann B. Davis (formerly Schultzie of the "Love that Bob" and the "Bob Cummings Show", and Alice of "The Brady Bunch") and the Country Coalition doing R&B. Upon her return to Los Angeles, she was reassigned almost immediately for a tour of Viet Nam with Gene Stridel (who at the time was the lead in the "Nat King Cole Story") and the Overton Berry Trio doing some pop and R&B. She was also feature vocalist for an NAACP award banquet MC'd by Dan Rossi (of comedy team Allen and Rossi); performed as both a feature vocalist and dancer at both the Palladium and the Beverly Hilton with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra and choreographer Lon Fontaine.
After sitting in on several open mike nights with local piano favorite Karen Hernandez at J.P.'s Lounge in Burbank, and the Money Tree located in Toluca Lake California, Karen tapped her vocal abilities for performances at these venues, which led to several appearances at Chadney's in Burbank, the Universal Sheraton in Universal City, and Monteleone's in Tarzana with Perlene's own trio, "Pure Pleasure." One thing led to another and eventually she was performing regularly on weekends at the Smoke House in Burbank with the Bill von Ravensberg Quartet.
World famous bassist Henry "Skipper" Franklin and his Trio (which included Theo Saunders or Jane Getz on piano and Mel Lee on drums) frequently featured her in Ventura at the 66 California Jazz and Supper Club. Appearances at Lunaria's with Harold Bennett and his trio in West Los Angeles, The Biltmore in Los Angeles with the Harold Land, Jr. trio and Spaghettini's in Seal Beach followed. Perlene was the opening act for Toni Tennelle at the Hilton Hotel in Anaheim, and she performed several times at Loew's Hotel in Santa Monica with the Daniel May Trio where she was described as "the best kept secret in L.A." and the "Purr-fect vocalist."
Perlene was featured several times with the Bill Berry Quartet at Miceli's in Hollywood, and has worked at other venues includinge Ca' del Sol Italian Restaurant and Bar in Toluca Lake with pianist Marty Harris; La Notte Italian Restaurante in West Los Angeles with keyboardist Bob Remstein; St. Mark's in Venice Beach and Nightwinds in Santa Monica with the Drew Deascentis Quintet; Jimmy's in Beverly Hills with Pure Pleasure; Shanghai Red's in Marina Del Rey and The Culver Club in the Red Lion Hotel in Culver City with the David Sanford Trio; the Red Lion Hotel in Costa Mesa with the Jimmy McConnell Orchestra (16 pieces), and at Volare's in Northridge with Jimmy McConnell and the United Jazz Quintet. She also performed at the grand opening of the Casino at the Hollywood Race Track in Inglewood.
She has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with popular blues singer Ms. Linda Hopkins, actor/singer Herb Jeffries, actress/vocalist Barbara McNair, singers Johnny Holliday, Josh Adams, Sonny Craver and Gene Diamond. Other musicians she has worked with include Doug MacDonald - guitarist; Jane Getz - pianist; George Gaffney - pianist; Lou Shoch - bassist/vocalist; Jack LeCompte - drummer; Billy Mitchell - pianist/arranger/educator/author; John Bolivar - reed player; Brad Bobo - bassist/arranger/vocalist; Harold Bennett - reed player; Lanny Hartley - pianist; Curtis Peagler - alto sax player; Leon Joyce - drummer; Dori Amarillio - guitarist; Kevin Toney - keyboardist; John Heard - bassist; Johnny Hammond - pianist; Barry Zweig - guitarist; Howlett "Smitty" Smith - pianist/vocalist; Wilby Fletcher - drummer; Gerald Wiggins - pianist; Art Hillary - pianist/organ player and Larry Nash - pianist to name a few.
Over the past few years, the Santa Barbara Jazz Society (SBJS) has provided several opportunities for appearances in that city, where she has been well received since she first started attending their first Sunday of the month jam sessions in 2001 thanks to her good friends James Arnold and Lynn Milloy who first introduced her to them. In 2003, she collaborated with Nelson Kole in a "Classic Jazz Tribute" at the Victoria Hall Theatre. In October 2005 she was featured vocalist with the Peter Clark Trio in the Santa Barbara Jazz Festival; and in October 2006 and October 2007 she and Marv Robinson performed with the Santa Barbara Jazz Society All Stars in the Santa Barbara Festival of the Arts. She also has co-featured with Marv Robinson in 2008 and 2009 for the Santa Barbara Jazz Society's monthly event at the Soho Restaurant and Music Club backed again by the SBJS All Stars. The spirit of her secular performances opened the door to special guest appearances with the New Light Community Gospel Choir, many appearances at the Lighthouse Center of the Heart (which has adopted her into their family), and The Unity Church of Santa Barbara.
Perlene and her group "Pure Pleasure" have been featured at both the Valley Jazz Club in Canoga Park and the Channel Cities Jazz Club at the Corinthian Yacht Club in Oxnard. Through her friend pianist Teddy Yamada, Perlene met John Ryan, web master for the Valley Jazz Club, who introduced her to the Jazz Forum in Santa Monica where she later appeared with their house band directed by Jazz Forum President, Barry Anthony in 2008 and 2009. These three exposures have led to other private and public performances, including the Hollywood Studio Bar & Grill with pianist Karen Hernandez, guitarist Tony Dumas and drummer Ralph Penland; Left Coast Wine Bar & Gallery with jazz pianist extraordinaire Karen Hernandez; Cafe 322 in Sierra Madre with the Karen Hernandez Trio featuring Jack LeCompte on drums and Lou Shoch on bass.
Starting in 2011 Perlene has become a regular feature at The Oyster House in Studio City with jazz guitarist Doug MacDonald and bass player Clarence Robinson. In 2013 she has become a regularly featured performer with her group "Pure Pleasure" at Tavern 101 in Agoura Hills; in June 2013 she appeared at Squashed Grapes, a new jazz venue in Ventura with guitarist Steve Moore and Clarence Robinson on bass. In addition, blues and jazz favorite Barbara Morrison recently invited Perlene to cover for her at Pip's on LaBrea for six weeks from August to September 2013 while she toured Europe.
Thanks to Teddy Yamada in whose studio her self-produced CD was created, Perlene's has released a CD entitled "It's About Love" and featuring Karen Hernandez on keyboards and left hand bass, and Michael Rosen on drums which is available for purchase online through CD Baby. The title says it all.
The reason and the source of her musical expression, no matter what genre is love. Another song phrase sums it up nicely. "My secret love is no secret anymore." It's taken quite a while for this CD to be generated, and it won't be the last. Time to share this expression of Love and Happiness in a greater way with the world. So Enjoy!
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