Grammy nominated vocalist, composer, and arranger Perla Batalla was born in Los Angeles, CA. Her father was a musician and owned a popular Spanish language record store. She first gained international attention as a backup singer for Leonard Cohen who later encouraged Perla to embark on a solo career. Perla released her debut “Perla Batalla ” on the Warner/Discovery label in 1994 to great critical success. Like many original artists, Perla opted to go independent early on, releasing her second album, “Mestiza” in 1998 on her own Mechuda Music label. (Mestiza – meaning of mixed blood)
An immediate favorite on Public Radio throughout the U.S. “Mestiza” was selected as Best Independent Release of the Year by the editorial staff at Amazon.com. “Heaven and Earth” followed in 2000, along with a nod to Perla as Amazon’s Emerging Artist of the Year. “Mestiza” and “Heaven and Earth”, both co-written with David Batteau, offer a vision of a vibrant culture still nourished and inhabited by mysticism, imagery, magic and myth.
“Discoteca Batalla” is Perla’s eagerly awaited follow-up album to the “Mestiza” song cycle. An innovative undertaking of contagious rhythm and pure joy, it was recorded in 2002 as an homage to her parents record shop of the same name. “Discoteca Batalla” is a compilation of new compositions interspersed with pristine treatments of traditional Spanish language classics arranged to reflect Perla’s rich bi-cultural personal and musical heritage. Perla has taken the timeless songs heard growing up and molded their rhythmic and melodic forms to create a stunning cross-pollination of trend and tradition. Since its release, “Discoteca Batalla” has consistently appeared on “best of” lists throughout the country. In 2004 Perla was invited by The Kennedy Center to perform songs from the album as artist in residence in conjunction with their performances for young audience series.
Perla’s 2007 tribute to Leonard Cohen entitled “Bird on the Wire” (also nominated for a Grammy) features a Who’s Who list of celebrated and world class musicians, including David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos), Bill Gable, Vinnie Coliauta and Greg Leisz. The album has been embraced with open arms by die hard Cohen fans and critics alike. As “Sing Out” magazine’s Michael Tearson wrote: “Beautifully conceived and executed, Bird on the Wire is a rewarding listening experience I find myself returning to frequently. It is every bit the equal of Jennifer Warnes’ classic Cohen tribute album Famous Blue Raincoat. For those uninitiated to the glories of the songs of Leonard Cohen this is a wonderful introduction. For the rest of us it is simply heavenly”. In celebration of its release, Perla produced a sold-out concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall with numerous special guests including Michael Mc Donald, Jackson Browne and Bill Frisell.
Perla’s concert film appearances in Hal Wilner’s Cohen tribute, “I’m Your Man” featured a cast that included Rufus Wainwright, Nick Cave, Beth Orton, Antony, Teddy and Linda Thompson and Jarvis Cocker. Spain’s 2007 concert and film “Acordes con Leonard Cohen” had Perla sharing the stage in Barcelona with Jackson Browne, John Cale, Javier Colis, Ducende and Toti Soler.
2008 brought more film work for Perla; this time on the other side of the camera as well, arranging and musical directing comedic segments for Will Ferrell’s “Stepbrothers”. Ms. Batalla has also been brought in as a hired gun by the studios as vocal coach/miracle worker for a various actors, including Jeremy Piven of HBO’s Entourage.
After making passage to Buenos Aires to meet her Argentine family for the first time. Perla’s next release, “Gracias a la Vida” is Perla’s anthology of traditional South American songs inspired by that heart-awakening trip. And while the tunes are classic, the arrangements are pure Perla. The results are a great introduction to early Argentine Tango-song. Perla dedicates this album to the art and courage of the legendary Argentine singer and activist, Mercedes Sosa.
In keeping with her annual tradition of recording with her daughter Eva, Perla’s has also released her first collection of favored Holiday songs entitled “We Three Kings”. KCRW chose her rendition of “Christmastime is Here” (sung with daughter, Eva) as their top tune for Christmas. By popular demand Perla has included a recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in this eclectic cd.
Perla Batalla’s mission of honoring her roots and exposing young audiences to the beauty of music and the Spanish language is ongoing in her outreach endeavors throughout some of the poorest communities in the United States. In 2009 Perla was the recipient of the United Nation’s Earth Charter Award for extraordinary devotion to social and economic justice. The following year at New Mexico’s Border Book Festival, Perla was given their Premio Fronterizo Award for “healing work in the world”. Perla also writes for and co-publishes Edible Ojai & Ventura County, an award winning quarterly food magazine with her husband Claud Mann, chef and co-host of the long running TV show “Dinner and a Movie”. They have a beautiful daughter, Eva.
Currently Perla is in post-production on a piano-vocal duet jazz album featuring L.A. jazz great Karen Hammack.