Centered around the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Don Peris (vocals, guitar) and Karen Peris (vocals, guitar, piano), Lancaster, PA natives the Innocence Mission crafted a tasteful, politically correct brand of collegiate folk-pop similar to Sarah McLachlan or 10,000 Maniacs (in fact, the Perises appeared on Natalie Merchant's 1998 album Ophelia). With a rhythm section composed of bassist Mike Bitts and drummer Steve Brown, the Innocence Mission released their eponymous debut album in 1989; Umbrella followed in 1991. Thanks to the advent of the adult alternative radio format, the Innocence Mission were able to break out to a wider audience with the release of their third album, 1995's Glow; material from the album appeared on the soundtrack of the film Empire Records and on the television show Party of Five.
The Innocence Mission remained quiet for several years, as the Perises made guest appearances on albums by Merchant, John Hiatt, and Joni Mitchell, in addition to having their first child. The latter experience greatly informed the group's fourth album, 1999's Birds of My Neighborhood, which witnessed the departure of drummer Brown, leaving the group officially a three-piece. The following year, the Innocence Mission released a limited-edition devotional album, Christ Is My Hope, on their own Innocence imprint; in 2001, the group moved to What Are Records? for Small Planes, which featured some songs from the Birds of My Neighborhood sessions that didn't make it onto that album. Befriended arrived in 2003 on the Badman label, followed in 2004 by a collection of lullabies and traditional works called Now the Day Is Over. The group's seventh and eighth studio albums, We Walked in Song and My Room in the Trees, arrived in 2007 and 2010, respectively. ~ Steve Huey