Lisa Fis­cher to play Berks Jazz Fest.

Northern Berks Patriot Item - - FRONT PAGE - By Rob Nagy

Lisa Fis­cher has spent decades as one of mu­sic’s most revered back-up vo­cal­ists. Lend­ing her vo­cal tal­ents to the Rolling Stones, Luther Van­dross, Chris Botti, Chaka Kahn, Sting and Tina Turner among many oth­ers, Fis­cher con­tin­ues to nur­ture her au­then­tic­ity as a solo artist.

“I feel like my his­tory with the Stones, Tina Turner, Chaka Kahn, I get to use all these different cre­ative spices and ex­pe­ri­ences,” says Fis­cher, from her home in New York City. “I’m play­ful, ex­per­i­men­tal and I just like to have fun with the melodies and the songs.”

“I needed to do ev­ery­thing that I’ve done, play­ing with the make up, per­form­ing and the clothes, different stage set­tings, just ev­ery­thing that was part of the job re­quire­ment,” adds Fis­cher. “I thought to my­self, ‘I don’t think I know who I am as far as who I want to be?’ It’s like ev­ery­thing I had been do­ing was usu­ally some­one else’s per­cep­tion of what they needed and what they wanted to pre­sent which was beau­ti­ful but it was their vi­sion. I felt like I just needed to take a breath and be sim­ple and as natural as pos­si­ble so that I could re­ally not worry so much about who I was pre­sent­ing. Who I am is who I am go­ing to be. I think in a way that has re­ally helped me build my own feel­ings about how I feel about my­self vis­ually and just the naked­ness of that and the fragility of that and feel­ing hon­est and im­per­fect. It’s a lesson for me how to love my­self as I am. It has been an in­ter­est­ing jour­ney.”

Fis­cher rose to in­ter­na­tional promi­nence in 1991 with the re­lease of her de­but al­bum “So Intense.” Yield­ing three Top 20 R&B hit sin­gles in­clud­ing the 1992 Grammy Award win­ning sin­gle “How Can I Ease the Pain,” Fis­cher also won the Grammy Award for Best Fe­male R&B Vo­cal Per­for­mance. In spite of her newly found suc­cess there was no fol­low-up al­bum re­lease. Fis­cher chose to re­turn to her role as a highly sought-af­ter ses­sion and tour­ing back-up vo­cal­ist. Cap­tur­ing the attention of film di­rec­tor Mor­gan Neville, Fis­cher was one of the prin­ci­ple sub­jects, which also fea­tured fel­low back-up singers Merry Clay­ton and Dar­lene Love in the Os­car win­ning doc­u­men­tary “20 Feet from Star­dom” (2013). High­light­ing the oral his­tory of mi­nor­ity back-up singers in the mu­sic in­dus­try, the film won the Grammy Award in 2015 for Best Mu­sic Film.

In 2014, Fis­cher launched a solo tour fronting her own band, the trio Grand Ba­ton. Trav­el­ling the world per­form­ing at fes­ti­vals, clubs and con­cert halls, Fis­cher and Grand Ba­ton have re­ceived crit­i­cal praise and a fan fol­low­ing that con­tin­ues to grow.

Forg­ing a re­la­tion­ship with the Rolling Stones in 1989, Fis­cher joined the band’s Steel Wheels con­cert tour that same year. An elec­tri­fy­ing stage pres­ence and a fan fa­vorite, no­tably in the songs “Mon­key Man” and “Gimme Shel­ter,” she has per­formed with the band on their sub­se­quent con­cert tours through 2015.

“What you’re giv­ing is from your heart,” says Fis­cher. “A singer, dancer, mu­si­cian, painter any­one who is in the arts I think they give from the heart, they re­ally, re­ally do. You want to make peo­ple happy. You want to share your joy and your heart ache and the pain and just ev­ery­thing through the mu­sic and I think it con­nects us all and it sort of makes any room that you’re in smaller, more per­sonal ac­cord­ing to how you do it and how open you are. Mick and the boys have a way of do­ing that. Mak­ing an au­di­ence feel that they are pre­sent and that they’re im­por­tant.”

“Life is so crowded,” adds Fis­cher. “It’s noisy. There’s a mil­lion and one to do lists that you don’t want to do but need to be done and emo­tional stuff that’s go­ing on. Just the stress of everyday liv­ing and try­ing to be OK so you’re con­stantly try­ing to bal­ance that mad­ness to the mo­ment. When I get on stage, I don’t think about it at all. I think the mu­sic helps me when I call on it to help me. It calms me in an­other way be­ing able to sing and be­ing able to do a show is al­ways a gift. It’s a fo­cus, a med­i­ta­tion and a prayer and an angst, and a yell. It’s just so many things. It’s ev­ery­thing we need it to be ac­cord­ing to what we need in the mo­ment.”

Ea­ger to cap­ture their cre­ative en­ergy, Fis­cher and Grand Ba­ton are work­ing to­ward the cul­mi­na­tion of an im­pend­ing stu­dio or live al­bum that could be re­leased later this year.

“No new re­lease yet,” says Fis­cher. “We are mov­ing in that di­rec­tion. I think the big­gest is­sue has been cap­tur­ing the live en­ergy. It’s dif­fi­cult to cap­ture that in the stu­dio. I have to fig­ure out how to best cap­ture things and be alive as pos­si­ble deal­ing with all the is­sues of sound. We also thought of do­ing a live al­bum but again find­ing the right venue and how to record the sound, I’m think­ing about it. There is so much you can’t con­trol. It’s funny, you’ll be on stage and you think this would have been a good night to record but the mo­ment is al­ready gone.”

Pos­sess­ing the ta­lent, de­ter­mi­na­tion and be­ing in the right place at the right time, Fis­cher is grate­ful for the ac­co­lades and op­por­tu­ni­ties that con­tinue to de­fine her ca­reer.

“I’m not only sat­is­fied, I’m like shocked,” says Fis­cher. “You fol­low the path and you’re just thank­ful for ev­ery­thing that you get. Any tour, any job, any ses­sion, any ex­pe­ri­ence that I get to sing is a gift. It’s not a given and I treat it as such.”

“I like to think of my­self as some­one who is try­ing her best to make the melodies come alive in a way that is unique for me,” adds Fis­cher. “I want peo­ple to feel a sense of peace. I want them to have melodies run­ning through their head. And thoughts and im­pres­sions and things that help them dream.”


Lisa Fis­cher per­forms at the Miller Cen­ter for the Arts / Read­ing Area Com­mu­nity Col­lege on April 13.

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