Singer-songwriter Linda Perry first garnered attention with her sweeping vocals on the single "What's Up" in the mid-'90s; the song that that made 4 Non Blondes one of the most memorable one-hit-wonders of the decade. But even after the spotlight dimmed, she embraced her talent for songwriting and helped some of the biggest names of this past decade, like P!nk, Gwen Stefani, Adam Lambert, and Christina Aguilera express themselves, even if it took a little tough love.
She and P!nk were brainstorming ideas for her 2001 album, M!issundaztood, and Perry blindsided her by sitting in front of a piano and asking her to ad-lib what she was feeling in that very moment. "I'm like, 'Just sing whatever's on your mind, whatever comes to the top of your head,' " Perry tells Out, "just tell me how you feel." Perry said P!nk was terrified, but they ended up keeping the majority of the lines she sang and it became the track "Eventually" on that album.
After coming out publicly, Perry was featured in the 2002 and 2005 Out100 honors list, but she remained behind the scenes until recently. This year saw Perry take her teaching and songwriting process to the masses on VH1's Make It or Break It: The Linda Perry Project, where she helped sculpt promising musicians into something more. But she isn't forcing herself into a mentor's role. "Everything that's happening in my life is me just following the organic nature of what my instincts are telling me," she said. And her instincts haven't steered her wrong yet. Earlier this year, she married Sara Gilbert, host of The Talk (and Roseanne child star), and the two announced in September that they're expecting their first child together.
Despite her successful collaborations, not every artist that wants to work with Perry is subjected to a melodic heart-to-heart. Some don't even get the chance. "I meet everybody I work with," she explains. "I have to meet them first to see if there's a connection." If she doesn't think a relationship with the artist would generate a creative atmosphere, she respectfully lets them down and explains that it wouldn't be a conducive environment to make good music.
Perry told OUT in July that she had a general idea of what she wanted, she just wasn't sure how exactly she would get there. "I want to be considered a legend," she said, "I want to win some major, incredible award like the Nobel Peace Prize, or be inducted into the Hall of Fame." The only other thing she's sure about is that she wants to make music. "I've always been a songwriter, I wasn't a singer and then became a songwriter" she said, "I've been a songwriter, always."