Per Sorensen of Fra Lippo Lippi: Official Biography

Written by Michael Sutton

Per Sorensen was born in Oslo, Norway in 1961. The youngest of four brothers, Sorensen always heard music growing up in his household, either from his parents or through his siblings. With his parents playing everything from country star Jim Reeves to Gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, Sorensen received an early musical education that eventually developed into his own distinct talents. And he did not waste any time, either. At only a year old, Sorensen was already humming the national anthem of Norway while his grandmother was changing his diapers. When he was four, his parents bought him a used drum set for $6; by 12, Sorensen was playing piano.

During his teenage years, Sorensen began his upward climb to stardom, working as a back-up singer for a number of bands at the age of 19, mainly doing funk and soul covers of artists like Earth, Wind & Fire although he wrote some originals, too. In 1983, Sorensen was asked to sing for the local group Fra Lippo Lippi. Fra Lippo Lippi had previously released an LP called In Silence, a mercilessly bleak record that featured gloomy Gothic atmospherics and sparse, enigmatic vocals from Rune Kristoffersen, who went to the same school as Sorensen but was older than him. Sorensen made his debut on Fra Lippo Lippi's second record, Small Mercies. Although the music and lyrics were written prior to him joining the band, Sorensen brought a pop sensibility to the vocal work, at the time channeling the icy baritone of David Bowie, especially his work with Brian Eno.

Initially drawing from the dark recesses of the post-punk movement, Fra Lippo Lippi continued to venture into more melodic textures, utilizing synth-laden instrumentation and Beatles-esque hooks that reeled in an entire generation of Pinoys on the subsequent albums Songs and Light and Shade. At the time, the group was also signed to Virgin Records in the U.K., aiming for a larger, international audience for the band. Light and Shade was produced by Walter Becker of Steely Dan with a glossy West Coast sheen that would've catapulted them in the American market. Unfortunately, Virgin in the U.S. pulled the plug before the LP even appeared in American stores, the label having blown their budget on signing Steve Winwood.

In the Philippines, though, it was a different story. Fra Lippo Lippi's music was introduced to the Manila radio airwaves via legendary New Wave radio station DWXB-102 and by the late 80s they had crossed over into multiple FM formats. Sorensen was completely unaware of their following in the Philippines. It wasn't until a Manila concert promoter contacted them in 1988 that Sorensen even had an idea what was happening. But, even then he wasn't informed of its massive size as Sorensen was shocked to see 11,000 Filipinos attend their first gig, singing along to radio smashes like "Beauty and Madness," "Angel," "Everytime I See You," and "The Distance Between Us."

Sorensen and Kristoffersen continued to record Fra Lippo Lippi records until the early 90s. When Sorensen decided to pursue another Fra Lippo Lippi album in 2001, Kristoffersen respectfully declined, deciding to concentrate on his own label focusing on electronic music. Although credited to Fra Lippo Lippi, In A Brilliant White featured only one-half of the duo. The LP's biggest Philippine hit, the bittersweet single "Later," was completed on September 11, 2001, with Sorensen hearing about the terrorist attacks in New York on the way home from the studio.

In A Brilliant White was only released in the Philippines, a special gift to Sorensen's Filipino fans.

With his soaring, melancholy voice, Sorensen is one of the most recognizable voices ever to grace the Philippines. His romantic crooning and Beatles-esque harmonies became the soundtrack for an entire generation of Pinoy music lovers and continues to inspire new and younger fans with its timeless qualities.