We have precious few moments of true musical discovery in our lives, but when that one song or singer lodges in the heart it is a treasure found and to be kept forever.
A rare few artists command such a response; women like Amalia Rodrigues, Edith Piaf, Patsy Cline or Aretha Franklin, perhaps, whose emotional power is equal to their magnificent voices.
We merely describe their talents in adjectives that can never match the thrill of hearing them sing.
Hearing Perla Batalla's voice for the first time is an epiphany. One may go to hear the songs, but you end up feeling the joy and the pathos in the music like never before.
There is a tone, a depth of emotion and a sublime expressiveness along with her transcendent voice that makes the experience unforgettable.
One on hand there is that powerful vocal instrument, but on the other is her intelligence and instincts. This combination in Perla makes her singing a true gift.
The seemingly effortless ability to make her music live and breathe is no accident of birth. Nor was it arrived at without much trial and tribulation. It is the product of practice, much experience, a love for singing and the good fortune of being born into a close family that valued the power of song.
She was born in Los Angeles, California, to a father immersed in music; a Mexican singer and radio personality who also owned a bustling record store called Discoteca Batalla.
At the store, literally at her Mother's knee, Perla was exposed to an education of non-stop music that cut across genres and languages.
As a kid she heard everything from Javier Solis and Lucha Reyes to Muddy Waters and John Coltrane.
Her far-ranging influences are reflected in the eclectic choices of songs she writes, arranges and performs today, from traditional Latino melodies to bluesy ballads with a contemporary twist.
Yet, it is that voice that brings each song to a new light.
Perla's musical education began in the record store but took on formality as she joined the Lee Strasberg Theater Institute on scholarship and eventually garnered roles in television and feature films doing vocals.
Eventually she began touring and singing backup vocals with the legendary Leonard Cohen.
In an enlightening five-year period of musical self-discovery, with Leonard's encouragement, Perla began to compose, arrange and write lyrics to her own compositions.
She lived in Mexico and San Francisco, continuing to perform and honing her craft, singing everything from Gershwin at the Vine Street Grill to Mexican lullabies at LunaPark.
She sang with kd lang, the Gypsy Kings, Was (not was), Iggy Pop and others. Still, she wanted to perform her own music and set out on a solo career with her first album Perla Batalla in I993.
Not surprisingly, the critics loved it, calling her singing "sublime" and her talent "stunning." She has continued performing at clubs, at festivals, at fund-raisers and all the while gaining believers in her stylish and sophisticated singing.
Perla's road to becoming an artist has been highlighted by delving into her cultural roots where rich soil awaited.
The homage to her Latin background has opened up an entire world of music and has been an inspiration for some of her finest work.
Early on, she merely sang beautifully, now she brings increased power and understanding to the songs she chooses to sing.
Words fail when the exultation of music is described, but to hear Perla stand up to a microphone and sing from the heart is an experience to be savored and sought at every opportunity.