VENUES & REVIEWS
COMMENTS & QUOTES
MAJOR VENUES PERFORMED
Yoshi's Nite Spot
Jazz at Pearl's
Fillmore Jazz Festival
Oakland Art & Soul
Carmel Jazz & Blues
Hollywood Studio Bar and Grill
Hollywood Park Casino
San Jose Jazz Festival
Russian River Jazz Festival
Healdsburg Jazz festival
Jazz on the Hill
and many, many more
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Nearly 20 tours of Russia
Multi tours of Asia
with Houston Person at Dizzy's Coca Cola Club, NY
Bay Area African American Women in Music:
Denise Perrier Circles the Globe Singing Jazz and Blues
By Lee Hildebrand Posted August 18, 2015
Although singer Denise Perrier was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, her music
education didn’t really beginuntil she relocated to Oakland with her mother
and older sister in 1945. They lived above a juke joint at the corner of
15th and Cypress in West Oakland and had a jukebox in the living room, on
which Perrier first heard singers Billie Holiday and Lil Green.
Today, Perrier performs an arrangement of Lil Green’s 1941 blues hit, “Why
Don’t You Do Right?” when she appears with the Junius Courtney Big Band. She
has been performing with the band for the past 15 years, and also does gigs
with bassist Marcus Shelby’s big band and combos, as well as with her own
Her family, which would come to include Perrier’s younger brother and future
Herbie Hancock bassist Paul Jackson, moved to Albany when she was 9.
While at Albany High School, her history teacher Phil Elwood, and later a
music critic at the San Francisco Examiner, used records as part of his
instruction. Those of Bessie Smith especially impressed Perrier.
In 1986, Perrier starred in a play about Smith at the Lorraine Hansberry
Theater in San Francisco. Last month, she again portrayed Smith in a cabaret
show titled “Bessie, Dinah and Me” at Feinstein’s, also in San Francisco.
Perrier’s career in show business began as a teenage dancer in troupes led
by choreographers Zack Thompson and Ruth Beckford before joining the
Intervals – a vocal group modeled on the Platters that performed at military
bases in the Bay Area and at Esther’s Orbit Room and Slim Jenkins in
Louis Armstrong heard them at a NAACP event in San Francisco and was so
impressed he brought the Intervals to Las Vegas for a six-week run.
Perrier launched her solo singing career in Australia in 1965 and spent the
next seven years performing there, in Hong Kong and Vietnam. She lived in
New York City for five years before settling in San Francisco, where she
became a favorite on the then-thriving cabaret circuit.
Perrier continues to travel, however. Last year, she did a Dinah Washington
show at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola in New York City and has been to Russia 28
times since 1997.
“Once I started that, it just mushroomed,” she said of her Russian tours.
“Before I’d get home, sometimes I’d have another two or three invitations.”