Fifteen By Two: The Lisa Fischer Interview

lisafischer-djenebaaduayom2014Recently I had the opportunity to ask Grammy award-winning singer, Lisa Fischer, a few questions.  Fifteen, actually. Ms. Fischer who is currently on tour with her band Grand Baton was kind enough to provide some insights into her career as both a solo artist and as a long-time member of The Rolling Stones touring band. Sometimes referred to as “the best singer you never heard of,” Lisa Fischer’s musical pairings are a veritable who’s who of the music industry, far too many to list here. She has also been the sole female member of the Rolling Stones’ touring band since 1989, known for her awe-inspiring vocals on Gimme Shelter and the interplay between her and Mick Jagger. She’s probably also one of the hardest working people in the music biz today. A few months ago when the Stones’ tour was in full-swing, Lisa managed to hop a plane between dates and fly out to gigs with her own band. She most likely did not want to disappoint her loyal fans. Ms. Fischer and her band, Grand Baton, will be appearing this Friday night at the Valley Performing Arts Center.

Is “background singer” an unflattering term to you?

Not to me. Some people prefer support vocals and the like but it’s all the same to me.

How much creative freedom are you given as a background singer?

If its new background parts that are being created in the studio, then there is a lot of creative freedom. If it’s for live shows, the groundwork has already been set, but there is still creative freedom within those lines.

Have you done a lot of “ghosting” and not been given credit?

Not really.

In Twenty Feet From Stardom, I pick up on a very distinct difference between yourself and the other singers.  You seem much more rooted in Jazz whereas the others seem more rooted in Soul, were you a big Ella Fitzgerald or Sarah Vaughan fan?

I’m a fan of all music but at the time that the documentary was being captured I was working with Chris Botti so that may have something to do with your feeling.

Can you share a funny anecdote about any of the core members of The Rolling Stones?

If I did, I would have to shoot you! (Just kidding).

Which instrument really turns you on?

The bass.

How many octaves are in your range?

I actually don’t know. I’ve not checked in many years mainly because I’m focusing more on interpretation.

Who’s words touched you the most after Twenty Feet From Stardom was released?  

Within the film? Too many to say… I can relate to all of them.

What do you require from a band in order to deliver your best performance?

A sense of connection.

When will we finally see a Lisa Fischer album?

I’m hoping in the near future.

I’ve heard you like to arrive 6 hours before taking the stage.  Can you explain this?

I actually like to arrive the night before a performance to settle in and rest. On show day about 5 hours before for sound check, dinner, nap, warm up and then I’m good to go.

You seemed much happier on stage in 2015 than you did in 2013.  Is this accurate and if yes, why?

Yes… A dear childhood friend was very ill and passed away. It affected me deeply.

Do you ever get into impromptu vocal jams with any of the core members of The Stones?

When we sit around and make music say after a show. But doesn’t happen often. But when it does it’s pure joy.

Do you rehearse any of the interplay between you and Mick?  Is any of it rehearsed?

No. That’s all in the moment on stage.

I see you have a healthy social media presence; do you ever read any of the posts regarding yourself on iorr.org?

Years ago I did, but it has its highs and lows. I decided it was better to stay mentally and emotionally healthy by not reading it.

Thank you Ms. Fischer!

Follow this link for this Friday’s performance.

Ivor Levene

About Ivor Levene

Ivor Levene likes to interview musicians, write about music and musicians, play music, listen to music, read about music, photograph musicians, and anything else you can think of with music. He has been involved with the music scene for over thirty years and his posts have appeared all over the place! Ivor says "I'm going to write about music as long as I have something to say".
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