*Lisa Fischer knows her way around a song.
Whether it’s pop, rock, R&B, the classics or anything in between, Fischer can make it do what it do.
Heralded as having one of the best vocalists in the music industry, this music veteran’s voice is rich, emotional and sultry.
One of the star’s of the Academy Award-winning documentary, 20 Feet From Stardom and a back-up singer for the Stones since 1989, Fischer brings her envious vocals to the Valley Performing Arts Center in Northridge, CA where she will perform with her new band Grand Baton.
The show features a wide range of material including the standards, I Loves You, Porgy and Fever; rock classics like Jumpin’ Jack Flash. It also includes works by Railroad Earth and Amy Grant as well as some originals, including her Grammy-winning record How Can I Ease the Pain.
Although she has been performing with the Grand Baton trio at major jazz venues, festivals and concert halls nationwide, this is Fischer’s first headlining tour since 20 Feet From Stardom won the Oscar in 2014.
20 Feet From Stardom tells the story of the upbeat impact and importance of background singers – who live just beyond the spotlight. Not only do they bring harmony, they support headlining artists by making their songs sound even more fantastic. Often these singers, who are often more talented than the stars themselves, are overlooked. The movie highlighted Fischer, Judith Hill, Merry Clayton, Darlene Love, Jo Lawry and many more.
This Friday, Oct. 2, Fischer, who is a star, is front and center.
I recently caught up with Fischer to talk about her career and her upcoming concert.
Darlene Donloe: What can audiences expect from your latest tour?
Lisa Fischer: I’m hoping that the audience will walk away feeling a sense of release and joy.
DD: How do you and Grand Baton complement each other?
LF: Grand Baton featuring JC Maillard, Aidan Carroll and Thierry Arpino are the most lovely souls as well as musicians. I think what I enjoy the most on stage is how they listen to each other and still have a strong sense of themselves as individuals as they cradle me within their sound.
DD: How did this collaboration come about?
LF: My manager Linda Goldstein introduced me to JC and I met Thierry and Aidan through him. I felt right at home with them from the very beginning.
DD: How did you go about choosing the songs for this tour?
LF: By listening to my heart and feeling free enough to dream.
DD: What does each song mean to you?
LF: Each song has a connection through melodies and story for me. It will make more sense once you hear it though.
DD: How has your musical style evolved since you first began singing?
LF: I like to think that each person I’ve listened to and each musical situation I’ve been blessed to be a part of has inspired and formed me in many ways but I find it difficult to say exactly how. It’s almost like tasting a hearty stew and trying to name each and every ingredient.
DD: Touring can be hard and grueling. How do you get through it? Any rituals?
LF: So true Darlene. I try to rest and hydrate a lot. I tend to be very quiet on my vocal rest days and between shows especially if there is a day with two shows. Travel tends to affect me the most with flying and allergies, etc. And sometimes no matter what I do, my body will say, “I’ve had enough! You must stop, think and care for me!” It’s at that point that I will see an ENT and try to blend herbal remedies with conventional ones according to the need.
DD: Describe the feeling you get when singing before an appreciate audience.
LF: Wow…it sort of feels like meeting all these beautiful souls that I’ve known forever somehow….but have never actually met. Kind of like a family reunion with the music as the elder.
(l-r) Jo Lawry, Judith Hill and Lisa Fischer in 20 Feet From Stardom
DD: You were featured in 20 Feet From Stardom. What do you consider Stardom? Have you achieved it?
LF: I’m not sure that I actually consider the concept of stardom in the classic sense really. Maybe it’s because of being in the presence of such amazing artists and realizing that they are real human beings that have a passionate love affair and respect for what they do and what they’ve been given. I think witnessing this makes it easier to balance adoration and work ethic and makes the concept of stardom more about living and giving which I believe we all do in some form or fashion.
DD: You’ve been rockin with the Rolling Stones for a while. Describe working them.
LF: Unpredictably exhilarating and soul satisfying. Each member is so beautifully unique and together they create and become anew with energy each time they play, which for me keeps them timeless.
DD: What’s next after the tour?
LF: I hope to continue the never ending tour with some stops in the studio along the way.
The concert will be held Friday, Oct. 2, 8 p.m., at the Valley Performing Arts Center, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330. Tickets are $30 – $75; VPAC Ticket Office is located in the VPAC Courtyard. For information: (818) 677-3000 or ValleyPerformingArtsCenter.org