Perera was born to a middle-class family in Kurunegala. As a child she often sang at home. At school she frequently sang and successfully took part in inter-school competitions. While studying she sang for the band “Spring Time” in Kurunegala. She met her future husband Rookantha Goonatillake in 1976 when he was a keyboard player for the band.
Perera married Rookantha Goonatillake in 1989, and she has three daughters and a son. Two children from her previous marriage; Daughter Shyami Nadisha and Son Yohan Perera. She has two daughters with Rookantha, Raini Charuka and Windy.
Without her knowledge, Perera’s father submitted his daughter’s name to a Sri-Lankan government-sponsored youth organization National Youth Services Council (NYSC). She subsequently attended and had a successful interview. She also appeared on the national television service in Sri Lanka that was a gift from Japan to Sri Lanka and was at that time broadcasting test transmissions.
Perera was noticed by the film director and producer D. B. Nihalsinghe while he was reporting on NYSC. He selected her to act in his new television series Rekha, which made her a star. She was given the award for best television actress in 1986 (for Nadee Geethaya, another series by Nihalsinghe), and the award for best playback singer in the same year (for the film Yali Hamuwennai). She was signed for LUX International by Lever Brothers at that time.
Perera has sung duets with many popular singers and actors. Vijaya Kumaranatunga, the husband of President Chandrika Kumaratunga, sang more than 15 songs with her.