Lisa Fischer performing at Boulder Theater, August 7, 2016
|Birth name||Lisa Melonie Fischer|
|Born||December 1, 1958|
New York, New York, U.S.
Lisa Fischer (born December 1, 1958) is an American vocalist and songwriter. She found success with her 1991 debut album So Intense, which produced the Grammy Award–winning hit single "How Can I Ease the Pain". She has been a back-up singer for a number of famous artists including Sting, Luther Vandross and Tina Turner, and toured with The Rolling Stones from 1989 to 2015.
Fischer was born in the Fort Greene neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. Fischer's mother gave birth to her at age 16 and had a total of three children by the time she was 19. Fischer has fond memories of singing with her mother (a homemaker), her father (a warehouse worker and security officer) and her two younger brothers. She attended The High School of Music & Art in Manhattan. When she was 14 her father left and at age 17 her mother died.
In an interview with Christian Wikane of PopMatters, Fischer stated that she was influenced by Freda Payne, Marvin Gaye and Melba Moore, as well as others early in her childhood. Before Fischer launched her solo mainstream career, she was heavily supported by the black LGBT community. Fischer has described the experience of developing a stage image that has adventure, quality, and beauty.
1983–1989: Xēna and The Rolling Stones
In 1983, under the stage name "Xēna", Fischer released the freestyle single, the b-boy classic "On the Upside". In 1984, a club track she recorded titled "Only Love (Shadows)" was briefly featured in the motion picture Beat Street  and was later released in 1995 as part of the Hot Productions' The Best of Criminal Records compilation. However, Fischer began her music career supporting other artists providing backing vocals for artists including Melba Moore and Billy Ocean. She worked with many other famous singers, both as a session vocalist and sideman. She accompanied Luther Vandross whom she met through the mutual acquaintance of choreographer Bruce Wallace, who asked her to come to his agency for an audition. Fischer then traveled as a backup singer on his tours and sang on his albums until his death, in addition to other famous musicians, including Chaka Khan, Teddy Pendergrass, and Roberta Flack.
Fischer maintained her career as a session singer and continues to accompany The Rolling Stones on every one of their tours since 1989. She worked as a backup vocalist during the same period for Luther Vandross for the 22 years prior to his death, having to juggle her time between his concert tours and those of The Rolling Stones, with whom she has a growing audience as she plays the foil to Mick Jagger onstage more and more frequently. There are songs that have become staples during tours with the Rolling Stones where she shares lead vocals, including "Monkey Man, and "Gimme Shelter", which showcase her vocal talents and are frequently on the set lists during their live concerts.
1990–1994: So Intense
Fischer's solo career peaked with the 1991 release of How Can I Ease the Pain from her album So Intense, which reached number one on the R&B charts and won her a Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance in 1992. The album spawned three Top 20 R&B hits and peaked at #5 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #100 on the Billboard 200 chart. When she was asked about the inspiration for her album, Fischer replied that "I wasn't deep in search of a record deal, it was just one of those things that happened". In the movie 20 Feet From Stardom, Fischer's Grammy award for her hit single collects dust on a shelf. Fischer said she "just doesn't know what to do with it." Though Fischer found success with her first album, a follow-up solo studio album was not released as an attempt to create a second album failed due to “energy shifts”.
However, Fischer continued to record music on various projects including providing lead vocals on the power ballad Colors of Love which was featured on the soundtrack for the film Made in America. Fischer has stated a contributing factor in her decision to discontinue her solo career following the release of her debut album was her fondness for being a backing vocalist rather than a solo artist. In a recent article, Fischer compared back-up singing to being a "tuning fork"; and noted she rejected the idea of never being satisfied and the theory of always aspiring for something more as she simply enjoyed creating music and supporting other artists. In 1992, Fischer traveled to Japan to perform in the Earth Voice Concert with Lee Ritenour, Phil Perry, Bobby Caldwell, Brenda Russell, James Ingram, Michael McDonald, Anita Baker, and others. During the concert, Fischer sang her 1991 number-one R&B hit How Can I Ease The Pain and also provided backing vocals for her fellow musicians.
In August 1996, Fischer made her theatre debut in the off-Broadway play Born to Sing! which chronicled the life and career of the fictional gospel superstar, Doris Winter. The final installment of the Mama, I Want to Sing! trilogy featured Fischer in the starring role of Doris Winter and followed the character as she assembled a company of fellow singers for the forthcoming international World Peace and Harmony Tour.
1996–2013: Backup singing
Lisa Fischer continued to work on music doing background vocals and she also is a songwriter for artist such as Anane Vega. Fischer toured with Tina Turner on her Twenty Four Seven Tour. It was the worldwide top-grossing tour of 2000. She continued to sing backup for Tina Turner and The Rolling Stones as well as compose songs for herself and up-and-coming artists. Lisa was featured in an April 14, 2008 issue of Jet Magazine′s "Where Are They Now?" column. In 2009, Fischer completed touring with Tina Turner on her Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour and she is featured on Turner's new live DVD-CD titled Tina Live. In the performance of Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour, in 2009, Fischer and Turner sing "It's Only Rock 'n Roll (But I Like It)" together and after Turner leaves the stage, Fischer completes the song solo.
Fischer sang on Sting's album If on a Winter's Night... as a backing vocalist. In September 2009, Sting and his band, plus Fischer, performed the songs live in Durham Cathedral. The rehearsals as well as the concert were filmed and were released as a DVD. The behind the scenes documentary surrounding the event was produced jointly by the BBC and was screened on December 29 that year. She appeared at the 2010 CareFusion Newport Jazz Festival in Newport, Rhode Island, where she was featured with jazz trumpeter Chris Botti. She continued to tour with Botti through 2010, including appearing nightly as guest vocalist during the trumpeter's annual holiday engagement at the Blue Note Jazz Club in New York City. She remained a guest artist with Botti's band in 2011 and continued to appear at their 2012 concerts.
In 2012, she joined the Rolling Stones for their 50 & Counting Tour that began in October 2012 and toured internationally until July 2013. The band have announced that there will be a follow-up tour 14 ON FIRE. That was scheduled to start in February and they would be visiting the Middle East, Asia, and Europe in summer 2014, and Australia in the fall 2014.
2013–2014: 20 Feet from Stardom
Fischer is one of the main artists featured in the Oscar-winning documentary film 20 Feet from Stardom (2013), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released on June 21, 2013. The documentary highlights often unheralded minority women backup singers by archiving the oral histories of artists like Merry Clayton and Darlene Love and their experiences within the American music industry. The film also won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Music Film, with the award being presented to the featured artists as well as the production crew.
In 2014, Fischer reunited with many of the backup singers in 20 Feet From Stardom including Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and Judith Hill to sing the national anthem at the 100th Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
2014–Present: Solo Career
In 2014, Fischer began her solo tour accompanied by her backup band the trio Grand Baton; and together they have performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. That same year it was announced Fischer would collaborate with performer Billy Childs on a studio project paying tribute to Laura Nyro's musical talent and life. Upon returning to her solo career after singing back-up for major artists and groups, in 2015 Lisa Fischer also sold out six consecutive shows at The Jazz Standard in New York City.
Fischer has also been engaged with various forms of dance throughout her career. In 2015, she along with her musical director, the composer, arranger, and pianist JC Maillard, collaborated with choreographer Alonzo King to create the music/dance ensemble piece entitled The Propelled Heart for the Alonzo King LINES Ballet. The Propelled Heart premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on November 6, 2015. In September 2017, Fischer reprised her role in The Propelled Heart at the Kwai Tsing Theatre in Hong Kong and the program also returned to the SF Bay Area's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in November 2017 in honor of the 35th Anniversary of LINES Ballet.
In addition to her collaboration with King, Fischer has continued to work with various musicians and artists in recent years. In 2016, she provided vocal performances on three Grammy nominated projects including Louie Vega Starring...XXVIII with Louie Vega and The Elements of Life; Sing Me Home with Yo-Yo Ma, The Silkroad Ensemble, and Gregory Porter; as well as New York Rhapsody with Lang Lang and Jeffrey Wright. In February 2018, Fischer’s vocal performances were featured in the HBO Film presentation Notes From The Field which was written and produced by playwright Anna Deavere Smith.
Fischer and Grand Baton partnered with The Seattle Symphony for a new musical program entitled Just A Kiss Away in February 2018 in which rock music anthems such as The Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter" were recreated orchestrally. The orchestral arrangements were written by Chris Walden.
- So Intense (1991)
Awards and nominations
|1992||Soul Train Music Award||Best New Artist||So Intense||Nominated|
|1992||Soul Train Music Award||Best R&B/Soul Single – Female||"How Can I Ease the Pain"||Won|
|1992||Soul Train Music Award||Best R&B/Soul Album – Female||So Intense||Nominated|
|1992||Grammy Award||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance||"How Can I Ease the Pain"||Won|
|1992||Grammy Award||Best R&B Song||"How Can I Ease the Pain"||Nominated|
|2014||Grammy Award||Best Music Film||20 Feet from Stardom||Won|
|2008||Shine a Light||Documentary||Herself|
|2013||20 Feet from Stardom||Documentary||Herself|
|2017||Every Night’s a Saturday Night||Documentary||Herself|
|2017||The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers Live at The Fonda Theatre 2015||Documentary||Herself|
|2018||Notes From the Field||Television Film||Performer & Composer|
|1996||Born to Sing! ||Doris Winter||Union Square Theatre  |
August 1996 – January 1997
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