Eli grew up as a foster child that was never adopted for reasons that were not revealed to her until her adult life. As a young girl, she would sit at the beach shore of Long Island writing poetry. It was her catharsis for the internal desires and pains she felt while growing up. With a darker colored skin than most of her friends, and looking very Hispanic, she didn't actually know her ethnicity. She was very much a loner, but first and foremost, she had a deep concern for her surroundings and the well-being of others. Her life wasn't easy compared to most of her schoolmates and her immediate family was lower middle class, but her foster-parents did the best that they could. They knew unconditional love even though they were ostracized for taking Eli and her siblings in as foster children.
Following high school, then quitting college, Eli protested the Vietnam war even though her then fiancé had enlisted in the USAF. After a decade in a tumultuous marriage, they divorced, and she moved to Florida with her mom and 3 children. Working many minimum wage jobs to survive, life moved forward. Eventually, when Eli's children grew up, she took on other challenges and was never one to shy away from confrontation. Eventually, Eli would meet and marry her new husband Bill Perras, and over time he would rediscover his passion for music, especially the folk music genre that was appreciated by his mother while growing up. Quite often, albums from liberal minded folk music from artists like Peter, Paul & Mary, Joan Baez, John Denver, and the likes, were spinning on their home stereo record player while growing up in a small Central Massachusetts town.
Before long, Bill & Eli combined their talents as she began writing poems again. Bill would pick up his Gibson Hummingbird guitar and together they would transform the poems into songs, mostly with socially-conscious ideals woven into the lyrics. Many topics of interest were suggested by one of their mentors, the late Ann Thomas. She was a master Librarian who encouraged Bill & Eli to read about historical injustices. Soon this would become the essence of their music and with their songs we would try to educate others about things that society would rather forget or not mention at all.
Due to chronic health issues, Bill left his corporate career as an electrical-mechanical design engineer. Fortunately, Eli's experience of raising her own multi-handicapped son was more than enough to qualify her to work with handicapped children. After Eli's son, Adam, entered a group home, she took on a job as a para-professional in the Exceptional Education Department with the Volusia County, FL school system. A book that Eli authored, “Raising Adam - In the Face of Adversity” explains much of that time caring for him from birth to the age of 15. Now, since Eli's days of raising Adam were somewhat over and Bill & Eli were in an empty nest situation, they both decided to combine their expertise and talents on an amateur level just to keep themselves busy. Since Bill was only 13 years old when he took it upon himself to learn and play acoustic guitar and a variety of other stringed musical instruments, he became rather good at it, especially his highly skilled capacity to play finger-style guitar.
On the other hand, Eli had the gift of writing poems that could be combined with Bill's guitar expertise. So, as time passed, they would write and compose many songs along with finding out that that they could share these songs at open-mics and song-circles where they lived in central Florida.
As time passed, Bill & Eli shared their new songs at more and more of these amateur showcases and started being invited to play real shows at venues around the state including the Florida Folk Festival, Will McLean Music Festival, Gamble Rogers Music Festival, and more. They began to gain notoriety in the Florida folk music scene within a few short years and recorded an album of our original songs in their antiquated home studio. The venues where they performed began to increase in number, and they would perform their original songs just about anywhere that we were accepted.
Even though Bill & Eli had not recorded a professional album, in 2004, Bill decided that when Eli was on summer break from her school job, they would take their music up to New England and back with many stops along the way. He got on the telephone and contacted people that they had met and searched the internet for venues that looked like the kind of place where their music would fit. He booked about 15 shows that would take place in a one-month period. It was a learning experience and as the years passed, they would take their music as far and wide as time allowed, along with releasing 3 professionally produced CD's.
Recently, Bill & Eli completed a Book & CD project titled “The Song's & Stories of Bill & Eli Perras- A Legacy Project” that was formally released on January 1st of 2020. This project included a CD containing 40 of their most exemplary original songs in a high quality MP3 format, along with a 168 page book authored by Eli which has the written lyrics and stories behind each of the of songs that are on the CD, along with some detailed writings on the musical careers of Eli & I.
Now that you know a bit about Bill & Eli, this website is meant to share some of their songs (mostly original), photos, videos, performance dates with hopes that you will host this singing, songwriting, storytelling duo at your library, listening room, festival, church, and any other venue that you feel would fit their songs and stories.
Michael Smith (Notorious Chicago based Songwriter) - Eli sings tunefully without folderol or affectation. One can practice for a lifetime and not achieve this rare vocal quality, which I think is due to character, upbringing and personal straightforwardness, plus an innate musicality. Pete Seeger has this, and maybe Odetta. You can't buy it. But I'm proud to say that these days I'm capable of knowing it when I hear it, which is the next best thing to having it myself. You can take this from me to the bank: this lady is The Real Thing.
Bill shares this honest vocal quality, although I'll say that I felt more ready to appreciate him after the lady so ably set the vocal tone.It was kinda like, if she's with him and he's with her I'll trust in it. He has a jug-band, humorous sensibility in his voice. Sometimes he makes me think of Jerry Colonna, or of twenties recordings R. Crumb would feature. He's charming and gruff and fun to listen to. And, oh, his guitar playing: such a pleasure to hear. This gentleman knows what he's doing and clearly has been doing it for a long long time. His touch is absolutely secure; your shoulders relax when you realize he's going to pull off everything he attempts. He'll switch tone so slyly, and everything he plays is aggressive and groovy.
Their songs are sincere, well made and issue-oriented. Were Gamble Rogers and Will McLean still here, I'd feel confident saying to them, "Here's some folks along your vein that you'll appreciate." It's like sitting in a screened-in porch on a warm night and listening to real Florida people with something to say and a no-nonsense and loving way of presenting it. Thank God for such honest artists among us, and thank these folks for carrying the torch.
Judge Nelson Bailey - Wow ! Great show you two put on last night ! Eli, you have an exceptional stage presence that connects with impact and on a very personal level with every member of the audience. You and Bill complement each other on stage wonderfully well. To both of you I say: One of the best stage performances I've ever seen.
Harriette Berman - I am so, so glad that you came & I got to have the experience of your amazing performance at Peoples' Voice Cafe'. This is what I'm talking about! Another "substance" event. Music to stir the Soul! Fabulous performance. Please know your performance was memorable and it's still on my mind this Monday evening. I know that everyone I spoke to, who was there, agreed wholeheartedly!
Sir Charles Atkins (Florida State University Blues Lab Professor) - Bill & Eli are very soft-spoken, humble people. Musically the stuff they do is quite polished. It's about as close as anyone, here, comes to recalling, in our time, the authentic sound of traditional American Music.
Stetson Kennedy (Author, Folklorist, and Human Rights Activist) - Thank-you for your deliberate contribution to better society
RoseMarie Kafer (President - Pinellas County Historical Society) - On behalf of Pinellas County Historical Society, I want to thank you for your outstanding, Florida musical program. As you could see, our membership was enthused and happier when they left then when they arrived. Your delivery was fun, entertaining and educational for our membership. I have received so many compliments about the program. Many, so pleased with your performance, asked that I convey their appreciation and thanks.
Fran Snyder (Founder of Concerts in Your Home Network) - Bill & Eli Perras charmed our audience with heartfelt delivery and compelling songs. Eli is a wonder to watch, and this lovely couple were a delightful addition to our inaugural Listening Room Festival. So enjoyable.
Tony Thomas (Old Time Banjo Virtuoso) - Frankly it was pleasant to have a real group of what I consider folk music hosted by the folk club and I feel honored to have hosted you. Too many of the people who the club has are people whose real credentials and music is rock and roll and have as little to do with traditional music or social concern as anything you hear on a top 40 radio station.
Berkeley" Bob Keefe (Proprietor of Berkeley Bob's Coffeehouse) - Bill & Eli Perras are coming up from Florida to perform. Don't miss this, its one of the most unusual folk blues acts you will ever see, really good stuff. Bill plays a mean guitar, Eli sings the blues in a very animated style. American style folk music at it's best.
Jim Strickland (Mr. Ethnic's WMNF Old Time Music Show) - Bill & Eli Perras were wonderful! Great blues guitar finger-picking from Bill as they warmed hearts and touched our souls with their unique original songs. One song in particular that chronicled Eli's search for herself, from being an "unadoptable" foster child to finding her roots as a full blood Arawak Indian brought us goose bumps and misty eyes.
Francis J Kolb (Craftsman House Gallery Proprietor) - Loved your set at Three Birds today. Great vintage vibe. Very cool stuff.