It is thought that only two people know how old Teri Campari actually is: Teri herself and her ex-husband Peter Cetera. Years matters not for a singer of Campari’s calibre however. Indeed, age ain’t nothin’ but a number when your voice is a time machine; evoking the memories of yesterday whilst realising the dreams of tomorrow.
Campari – real name Ruth Horowitz – was born of upper middle class Polish immigrants in Harrisburg Pennsylvania and displayed a flair for performance, and particularly singing from an early age. Her father’s job with the Federal Reserve saw Campari move city every two years, exposing his daughter to diverse styles of music that combined to make her a recording star.
Throughout her period of study in Harvard, Campari combined her love of music with her burgeoning love of politics. A member of the university’s senior council of the Young Republicans, the conservative chanteuse staged many pro-Vietnam rallies and demonstrations and cut her now infamous anti-civil rights album, “Rights and Wrongs” shortly before graduation.
Though the album’s content was at odds with the nation’s prevailing sentiment, Campari’s sassy tone, bawdy intonation and gung ho timbre gained her instantaneous recognition. Bands, songwriters and producers across the country found themselves having to book months in advance to secure her distinctive voice for their records.
A buzz swept the industry: here at last was a woman candid about her vocal interpretation of subject matter; someone unafraid to perform in a brassy style, hitherto unseen in the patriarchal business that was hit-making. After five years working as a session singer in Los Angeles in the late ‘70s – most notably with Linda Ronstadt, the Dirt Band and the Doobie Brothers – Campari temporarily left the recording business to serve as the Reagan administration’s adviser to the United Nations.
Campari was tempted back to recording work following a phone call from her friend and film producer Harvey Myerovich in the fall of 1986. Myerovich wanted Campari to help with the recording of original material for his latest project; Dirty Dancing. Drained by her diplomatic exertions in the wake of the Iran/Contras scandal Campari was glad to turn her back on the political world and return to the recording studio.
Campari co-wrote and constructed the vocal arrangements for Time Of My Life, Hungry Eyes and She’s Like The Wind on the soundtrack to the hit Jennifer Grey film and was delighted to see her good friend Patrick Swayze earn a Golden Globe nomination for the role of Johnny Castle.
Campari married Peter Cetera in 1991 and enjoyed continued success throughout the decade, writing and arranging hits for Cher, Gloria Estefan, Celine Dion and Michael Bolton. The industry legend first performed with Spring Break at the 2004 ‘Hope Foundation’ Christmas fundraiser and now joins them on stage to perform a couple of her numbers when commitments allow.
Spring Break are always delighted to perform with the singer and long time colleague, and run through some of her hits whenever they can. As Carmichael Anthony Thomas St. Hall says: “It’s an honour and a pleasure. Without her there would be no Cindy Lauper, Kim Carnes or Toni Basil.”