Lisa Fischer

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Lisa Fischer
Lisa Fischer Boulder Theater.jpg
Lisa Fischer performing at Boulder Theater, August 7th, 2016
Background information
Birth name Lisa Melonie Fischer
Born (1958-12-01) December 1, 1958 (age 58)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active 1983–present
Labels Elektra
Associated acts

Lisa Fischer (born December 1, 1958) is an American vocalist and songwriter. She rose to fame in 1991 with her 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 has toured with The Rolling Stones since 1989, where her popularity with the fans has brought her to routinely duet with Mick Jagger on several songs when performing onstage.

Early life[edit]

Fischer was born in the Fort Greene neighborhood in the borough of Brooklyn, New York.[1] Fischer's mother gave birth to her at age 16 and had a total of three children by the time she was 19. At one point during her childhood, Fischer and her family lived off welfare and food stamps. Fischer attended The High School of Music & Art in Manhattan.[2] When Fischer was 14 her father left and at age 17 her mother died.[3] Fischer's love for singing was encouraged by her mother, a homemaker; father, a warehouse worker and security officer, and two younger brothers.[4]

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.[5] Before Fischer launched her solo work, she was greatly influenced by the LGBT community. Fischer has described the experience of developing a stage image that has adventure, quality, and beauty.


1983–1989: Xena and The Rolling Stones[edit]

In 1983, under the stage name Xēna, Fischer released a Latin freestyle single, the electro 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.[5] 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[edit]

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.[6] 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."[7] Lisa Fischer was successful from her first album and her solo career, unfortunately she was unable to achieve that success with her second album. After an attempt to create a second album at Elektra Records it failed due to “energy shifts”.[8] Fischer also provided stirring vocals on the power ballad "Colors of Love" which was featured on the soundtrack album for the film Made in America. Fischer stated that the reason she discontinued her career as a solo artist afterward was because she enjoyed being a backing singer much more than a solo artist.[9] Fischer rejected the idea of never being satisfied and the theory of always aspiring for something more. She stated that she just enjoys doing music and supporting other artists.[10] Fischer compares back-up singing to being a "tuning fork".[11] In 1992, Lisa 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. She sang her 1991 number-one R&B hit "How Can I Ease The Pain" and also sang background vocals for other artists.

1996: Theatre[edit]

In August 1996, Fischer made her theatre debut in the off-Broadway play Born to Sing! which chronicles the life and career of the fictional gospel superstar, Doris Winter.[12] The final installment of the Mama, I Want to Sing! trilogy features Fischer in the starring role of Doris Winter and follows the character as she assembles a company of fellow singers for her upcoming international "World Peace and Harmony" Tour.[13]

1996–2013: Backup singing[edit]

Fischer performing in 2008

Lisa Fischer continued to work on music doing background vocals and she also is a songwriter for artist such as Anane Vega.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

In 2013, Fischer joined the rock band Nine Inch Nails as a backing vocalist for their Tension 2013 tour.[4][17]

2013–2014: 20 Feet from Stardom[edit]

Fischer singing with Jagger and The Rolling Stones during their Fifty and Counting Tour, in Boston Mass., June 12, 2013

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[edit]

In 2014, Fischer began her solo tour accompanied by her backup band the trio Grand Baton; and together they have performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.[9] That same year it was announced that Fischer would be collaborating with performer Billy Childs on a studio project that would pay tribute to Laura Nyro's musical talent and life.[18] 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.[19]

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 renowned choreographer Alonzo King to create the music/dance ensemble piece entitled The Propelled Heart for the Alonzo King LINES Ballet.[20] The Propelled Heart premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on November 6, 2015.[21]

In addition to her collaboration with King, Fischer has continued to work with various prominent musicians and artists in recent years. In 2016, she provided vocal performances on three Grammy nominated projects[22] including Louie Vega Starring...XXVIII with Little Louie Vega and The Elements of Life;[23] Sing Me Home with Yo-Yo Ma, The Silkroad (arts organization) Ensemble, and Gregory Porter;[24] as well as New York Rhapsody with Lang Lang (pianist) and Jeffrey Wright (actor).[25]


Year Album Title Record Label
1991 So Intense Elektra Records[26]


Year(s) Tour Artist(s)
1985 I Feel for You Tour Chaka Khan
1985 - 1986 The Night I Fell in Love Tour Luther Vandross
1987 Give Me the Reason Tour Luther Vandross
1988 Any Love World Tour Luther Vandross
1989 - 1990 Steel Wheels/Urban Jungle Tour The Rolling Stones
1990 Best of Love Tour Luther Vandross
1991 The Power of Love Tour Luther Vandross
1993 - 1994 Never Let Me Go World Tour Luther Vandross
1994 - 1995 Voodoo Lounge Tour The Rolling Stones
1997 Your Secret Love World Tour Luther Vandross
1997 - 1998 Bridges to Babylon Tour The Rolling Stones
1999 No Security Tour The Rolling Stones
2000 Twenty Four Seven Tour Tina Turner
2001 - 2002 Take You Out Tour Luther Vandross
2002 BK Got Soul Tour Luther Vandross
2002 - 2003 Licks Tour The Rolling Stones
2005 - 2007 A Bigger Bang Tour The Rolling Stones
2008 - 2009 Tina!: 50th Anniversary Tour Tina Turner
2010 - 2012 Chris Botti Tour Chris Botti
2012 - 2013 50 & Counting Tour The Rolling Stones
2013 Louie Vega & The Elements of Life (EOL) Little Louie Vega
2013 Tension 2013 Nine Inch Nails
2014 14 On Fire The Rolling Stones
2014–Present Ms. Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton Tour Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton
2015 Zip Code Tour The Rolling Stones

Awards and Nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result
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


Year Film Role
2013 20 Feet from Stardom Herself


Year Show[27] Role Notes[28]
1996 Born to Sing! Doris Winter Union Square Theatre
August 1996 – January 1997


  1. ^ Larry Katz/Admin (June 17, 2014). "Lisa Fischer: Star in the Sidelines". Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  2. ^ Nowlin, Rick. "Music preview: Lisa Fischer steps into the spotlight," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (October 8, 2015).
  3. ^ "Where is Lisa Fischer's Backup? — Death, Sex & Money". March 11, 2015. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b Barnes, Brooks. "The Voice Behind Mick (and Others)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Wikane, Christian (June 17, 2013). "The Women of '20 Feet from Stardom': Lisa Fischer". Popmatters. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  6. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years. London: Reed International Books. p. 494. CN 5585. 
  7. ^ 20 Feet From Stardom. Dir. Morgan Neville. Perf. Lisa Fischer and Darleene Love. Gil Friesen Productions, 2013. Netflix/ 20 Feet From Stardom. Web. June 6, 2014.
  8. ^ "Alonzo King, Lisa Fischer team up for world premiere". Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b "Lisa Fischer — Bio". Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  10. ^ Brooks, Barnes (June 7, 2013). "The Voice Behind Mick (and Others)". The New York Times. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Spotlighting Background Singers In 'Twenty Feet From Stardom'". June 11, 2013. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  12. ^ Howard Waxman (August 12, 1996). "Review: Born to Sing!". Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  13. ^ Anthony Tommasini (August 12, 1996). "Voices Revel In the Joys Of Singing". Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  14. ^ "LexisNexis® Academic & Library Solutions". Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  15. ^ "CBSi". Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  16. ^ "The Rolling Stones announce 14 ON FIRE Australia / New Zealand Dates". Rolling Stone. December 3, 2013. Retrieved May 31, 2014. 
  17. ^ nine inch nails. "TENSION 2013: Alessandro Cortini, Joshua Eustis, Robin Finck, Lisa Fischer, Sharlotte Gibson, Pino Palladino, Trent Reznor, and Ilan Rubin". Twitter. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  18. ^ Jim Fusilli (September 9, 2014). "Laura Nyro Reimagined". Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  19. ^ Karu F. Daniels (January 18, 2015). "Brooklyn Grammy Award winner Lisa Fischer returns to solo career". NY Daily News. Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  20. ^ Alonzo King LINES Ballet (November 2015). "‘THE PROPELLED HEART’ WORLD PREMIERE WITH LISA FISCHER". Retrieved December 24, 2016. 
  21. ^ Andrew Gilbert (October 26, 2015). "Alonzo King, Lisa Fischer team up for world premiere". Retrieved March 13, 2016. 
  22. ^ "59TH ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS NOMINEES". The Recording Academy/Grammy Foundation. December 6, 2016. Retrieved December 6, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Louie Vega Starring...XXVIII - "Little" Louie Vega | User Reviews". AllMusic. 2016-02-26. Retrieved 2016-12-09. 
  24. ^ "BACK IN THE STUDIO". Silkroad. September 21, 2015. Retrieved December 24, 2016. 
  25. ^ PR Newswire (July 22, 2016). "THE MAGIC OF NEW YORK CITY INSPIRES LANG LANG ON NEW ALBUM NEW YORK RHAPSODY AVAILABLE SEPTEMBER 16, 2016". Retrieved December 24, 2016. 
  26. ^ Paul Weideman (July 29, 2016). "Closing in on stardom: Singer Lisa Fischer". Retrieved December 24, 2016. 
  27. ^ Karen Hunter (August 12, 1996). "Gospel Musical Sing! Brings in ‘da Joyful Noise...". Retrieved December 22, 2016. 
  28. ^ Katia Lundy (November 4, 1996). "Producer/Author Vy Higginsen was Born to Sing". Retrieved December 22, 2016. 

External links[edit]