Friday - January 23, 2009
Jennifer Perri, who made her name throughout the state as the OKC TV personality, has just returned from a four-month engagement playing Mimi in the Broadway hit musical RENT in Japan. She’s back just in time for the release of her new album He Mele Aloha.
Her time in Japan as a cast member in RENT was a huge learning experience, as it was her first musical. The visit also allowed Perri to revisit speaking the language, as the entire play was done in Japanese.
“I was the only person not from Japan,” she says. “What happened is one of the producers had one of my old albums, and she contacted my mom and asked if I could go to Japan to audition. I had to go through the whole audition process - I think there were like 8,000 girls who auditioned for Mimi.”
After becoming a professional singer at the age of 8, Perri moved on to her gig co-hosting the OKC show. At 14 years old, she signed with a record company in Japan and recorded a self-titled mini album that released also in Hawaii. From there she was discovered by Shaggy,and was welcomed on his European tour to sing backup. In 2006, Perri was asked by Jake Shimabukuro to be featured on the soundtrack for his movie Hula Girl, singing two songs, Gently Weeps and Wish On My Star.
This week, the 22-year-old releases a full-length contemporary/Hawaiian album with 11 tracks that she says she holds very close to her heart. It’s a project that she says was only possible with the inspiration of her now 1-year-old daughter.
“I stopped singing for a while because I didn’t really love it as much as I used to,” says Perri. “When I got pregnant with my daughter, she just brought so much inspiration to me. This whole album is my heart and soul. I feel this album is me in every single way.”
For more on Perri, visit her at www.myspace.com/officialjenniferperri.
At 22, how do you feel you’ve grown as a performer and a person since you first started doing it professionally at just 8 years old?
Before I used to have a really hard time staying on pitch when I would sing live. I was never really confident about what I was singing and portraying to people. Now I can sing these songs and feel very confident.I think it’s partly because I’m so happy and everything comes so natural now. So I don’t have to force myself or try too hard to deliver what I want to deliver.
You just got back from performing in RENT in Japan.What have you learned through that experience?
I’ve always done solo stuff, so to have a cast of 22 people to work with every day, and to know that if I mess up I can mess other people up, was eye-opening.You learn how to work with people, and just being on that big stage every day made me be more comfortable.
The character that I played (Mimi) is different from me, but there’s also a very paper-thin line of the souls of the two people. So it was almost like I wasn’t even acting. So it really taught me more about myself and how to be more confident and assured in my own body. It was a great experience. I never thought a musical would be that physically and mentally draining, but it was great.
Now that you’re back home, what are your plans?
To be a mom, and I’m actually getting married in September. And also my album, so I’ll just be going out to promote it. I’m so proud of it, so I can’t wait.
How does this album compare to albums you’ve released previously?
Because I was young I always wanted to do pop and R&B, but it felt so fake. It felt like I was trying to be someone that I wasn’t.With this album I got to co-produce the album and pick the songs that I wanted to do, which I was never able to do before. I felt so natural, and I can sing it in my car. Before I used to be ashamed of it. Now I’m trying to show everyone the album and have everyone listen to it.I think it’s because I’ve grown from a little kid to a woman and have been through so many experiences that I was able to put everything that I’ve learned into the album.I don’t even have words for how excited I am, and how honored I am to have this album.
How long did it take you to record the album?
We had about a month, but I finished recording in about two and a half weeks. I was blown away because some of the songs were just one take.
What are your goals right now musically?
I just really want this album to do well. I haven’t done stuff in Hawaii for a long time, so it’s a little bit of a comeback. So I want people to really enjoy this album. I want to represent Hawaii the best I can, all around the world. Just to share the music I love and take it anywhere possible.
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