After a brief singing career of her own, Perri ‘Pebbles’ Reid broke new ground as a music executive and high-profile manager for the band TLC. But in 1995, the band accused Pebbles of cheating them out of millions of dollars and forcing the group into bankruptcy.
After a stressful split from the band and her then-husband, L.A. Reid, Pebbles refashioned herself as Sister Perri: a charismatic minister and self-proclaimed prophetess. She continues to preach on topics including ‘demonic oppression’ and faith healing to this day.
‘I had visions as a child’
Pebbles claims she has always had an uncanny ability to predict the future, long before she entered ministry. Born as Perri Arlette McKissack in Oakland, California on August 29, 1964, she began singing at the age of five. “I had visions as a child, and I knew, I would tell you as a kid, that I was gonna grow up and be a star,” she would later reflect.
As a singer in the late 80s, she made a series of hit singles including Girlfriend (1987), Do Me Right (1988) and Love Makes Things Happen (1990). In 1989, she founded her own record label and production company. Around the same time, she wedded record executive L.A. Reid.
Again, she believes a prophetic vision helped her in this field of work. “As Pebbles, I knew too much,” she has claimed. “I knew I had gifts… I could see people’s gifts in the raw, I could see what wasn’t done yet, and that’s how I was able to select artists, producers, writers. [I could] train people without being formally trained myself.”
In 1990, she was approached by a band called 2nd Nature, which consisted of three budding female singers: Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas and Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins. Under Pebbles’ management, this band was renamed TLC and it became one of the best-selling girl groups of all time. TLC also worked with L.A. Reid’s label, LaFace Records.
Pebbles had a warm personal relationship with the girls, who spent many hours hanging out at her home and office, dreaming up what the band should look and sound like. “It was like a big slumber party,” the manager would later describe.
Meanwhile, she and her husband raised two children together and claimed they were very much in love – though Pebbles admitted they would quarrel over business matters.
But despite their incredible rise to fame, in 1995 TLC was forced to file for bankruptcy. The band blamed Pebbles and L.A. Reid for their financial troubles, claiming that the couple had sapped their funds by charging them for travel, marketing, hotels, food and clothing, and trapping them in an unfair contract.
‘So heartbroken, I was bedridden’
Two years of legal infighting followed, as TLC sought to renegotiate their contract with L.A. Reid and find new management. After a promise of royalties on some of the band’s future releases, Pebbles quit as their manager and got a divorce from L.A. Reid.
The band reportedly had to buy back the name TLC from Pebbles, at a total cost of $3 million.
As they accepted an MTV Video Music Award in 1995 for Waterfalls, TLC began by thanking God – but then proceeded to mock Pebbles and their label. Reading off a roll of toilet paper, they said: “We were told to thank the record company people… [we’d like to thank] the person who thinks she deserves the most thanks anyway: Pebbles.”
The triple pressures of her TLC legal issues, divorce and public humiliation brought Pebbles to breaking point. “I was so heartbroken that I was bedridden,” she has remembered. “The only time I could get out of bed was to go to court or something, when I was forced to.” She has described this as a period of “demonic oppression”.
“I felt like I was dying, before God came in to rescue me,” Pebbles added. She had only attended church on holidays as a child. But in the depths of her depression, at the age of 33, she started to go to a local church of five people.
She also said that she felt drawn to church after conversations about faith with her long-time friend, the gospel singer CeCe Winans.
Days after starting to attend church, Pebbles claims God called her to rise early one morning and to start writing prophecies. “My first encounter with God was November 29th, 1997,” she has said. “… I started prophetically writing everything down, as I do today.”
One year later, she began running her own charismatic ministry and meetings, known as Tuesday Night Revival. This would continue for a full decade.
“I am a demonstrator of God,” she has summarized. “I am somebody that is used greatly in demonstration, healing and deliverance – casting devils out and all kinds of stuff.” The star changed her professional name to Sister Perri, or Sister P for short.
She surrounded herself full-time with her newfound religious community. “It’s so amazing that through this process in my life, the Lord moved away everybody from me that wasn’t spiritual, and replaced them with people that are spiritual,” she commented. In 2012, she tied the knot with Excel Shariff. She has three children in total.
‘I didn’t want to hurt my children’
For over ten years, it seemed that Pebbles’ troubled history with TLC was truly over. But then the entire drama resurfaced in 2013. A TV movie entitled CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story depicted Chilli (played by Keke Palmer) as a brave heroine, but depicted Pebbles (played by Rochelle Aytes) as a jealous antagonist, plotting to exploit the young TLC stars.
The film was immensely popular for a TV movie, earning 4.5 million viewers and becoming the most-watched original cable movie of the year.
Among the film’s fiercest detractors was Pebbles’ daughter Ashley Reid. She condemned the film’s portrayal of her mother and went on to accuse Chilli of having an affair with her stepfather L.A. Reid, telling the press: “When I said on Twitter, ‘Chilli I can’t wait to see you’ what I meant by that was, ‘I can’t wait to see you to beat your f***ing face into the concrete.”
In an interview, Pebbles condemned her daughter’s violent language but said she “absolutely” agreed that L.A. Reid had an affair with her then-husband. “That’s how I know Jesus did get in me,” she elaborated. “Because anybody that can hold some of that stuff and never want to [tell it] – it’s not just not wanting to hurt them; I didn’t want to hurt my children, to be really honest with you, or L.A.”
Chilli, meanwhile, declared that she had paid no mind to these negative responses. “I don’t know [about them] – to be honest with you – I’ve been so caught up in thanking God with the blessings; with the success of this film,” she said. She would later state under oath that she never had an affair with L.A. Reid.
A year later, Pebbles launched a $40 million defamation lawsuit against Viacom, the company that owned the channel which aired CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story. Ultimately, she settled the case out of court.
‘I’ve had a lot of witchcraft against me’
In recent years, Sister Perri Reid started her own online “prayer line” named Miracle Mondays. In her weekly streamed sessions, she speaks in what she describes as “prophetic flows” from God. She also discusses faith healings, visitations and prayer requests.
In 2022, Pebbles stated she was planning on releasing a movie about her life, the TLC fight and her legal issues. “I’m about to write it,” she said. “… This is the Father’s way of also bringing vindication to his servants. I’ve been Grammy nominated, I’ve had a few hit records, I could’ve gone on and made more records throughout the years. It wasn’t what He had for me.”
She also gave a few hints about what her movie might include. “I’ve been distracted by pain, I’ve been distracted by bondage,” she noted. “I’ve had a lot of witchcraft and stuff against me.”