Lisa Fischer

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Lisa Fischer
Lisa Fischer Boulder Theater.jpg
Lisa Fischer performing at Boulder Theater, August 7, 2016
Background information
Birth nameLisa Melonie Fischer
Born (1958-12-01) December 1, 1958 (age 60)
New York, New York, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • musician
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Years active1983–present
Labels Elektra
Associated acts

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". [1] 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.

<i>So Intense</i> 1991 studio album by Lisa Fischer

So Intense is the only studio album by American R&B singer and songwriter Lisa Fischer, released on April 30, 1991. Of the ten songs recorded for the album, "How Can I Ease the Pain", co-written by Fischer, was her biggest pop and R&B hit. It reached number 11 on the main US Hot 100 chart and number 1 on the US R&B chart. The only other single to make any sort of impact was "Save Me", which, while failing to dent the Top 40 of the US Hot 100, came close to repeating the success of "How Can I Ease the Pain" on the R&B chart, where it peaked at number 7. The last single, the title track "So Intense", reached number 15 on the R&B chart.

Grammy Award Accolade by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States

A Grammy Award, or Grammy, is an award presented by The Recording Academy to recognize achievements in the music industry. The trophy depicts a gilded gramophone. The annual presentation ceremony features performances by prominent artists, and the presentation of those awards that have a more popular interest. The Grammys are the second of the Big Three major music awards held annually.

How Can I Ease the Pain Song by Lisa Fischer

"How Can I Ease the Pain" is a song by American singer Lisa Fischer, from her album So Intense. It was produced by Narada Michael Walden and Louis Biancaniello. The hit song spent two weeks at number-one on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song was sampled by rap group Three 6 Mafia for their hit "Late Nite Tip".


Early life

Fischer was born in the Fort Greene neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. [2] 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. [3] She attended The High School of Music & Art in Manhattan. [4] When she was 14 her father left and at age 17 her mother died. [5]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

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. [6] Before Fischer launched her solo work, she was influenced by the LGBT community. Fischer has described the experience of developing a stage image that has adventure, quality, and beauty. [7]

PopMatters is an international online magazine of cultural criticism that covers many aspects of popular culture. PopMatters publishes reviews, interviews, and detailed essays on most cultural products and expressions in areas such as music, television, films, books, video games, comics, sports, theater, visual arts, travel, and the Internet.

Freda Payne American singer and actress

Freda Charcilia Payne is an American singer and actress. Payne is best known for her career in music during the mid–1960s through the mid–1980s. Her most notable record is her 1970 hit single, "Band of Gold". Payne was also an actress in musicals and film, as well as the host of a TV talk show. Payne is the older sister of Scherrie Payne, a former singer with the American vocal group The Supremes.

Marvin Gaye African American singer-songwriter and musician

Marvin Gaye was an American singer, songwriter, and record producer. He helped to shape the sound of Motown in the 1960s, first as an in-house session player and later as a solo artist with a string of hits, earning him the nicknames "Prince of Motown" and "Prince of Soul".


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". [8] In 1984, a club track she recorded titled "Only Love (Shadows)" was briefly featured in the motion picture Beat Street [9] 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. [10] 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. [11]

Electronic dance music (EDM), also known as dance music, club music, or simply dance, is a broad range of percussive electronic music genres made largely for nightclubs, raves and festivals. It is generally produced for playback by disc jockeys who create seamless selections of tracks, called a mix by segueing from one recording to another. EDM producers also perform their music live in a concert or festival setting in what is sometimes called a live PA. In Europe, EDM is more commonly called 'dance music', or simply 'dance'.

<i>Beat Street</i> 1984 film by Stan Lathan

Beat Street is a 1984 American drama dance film featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s, breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti.

Billy Ocean singer-songwriter

Billy Ocean is a Trinidadian-English recording artist who had a string of R&B international pop hits in the 1970s and 1980s. He was the most popular Trinidad–British R&B singer-songwriter of the early to mid-1980s. After scoring his first four UK Top 20 successes, seven years passed before he accumulated a series of transatlantic successes, including three US No. 1's. His 1985 hit "When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going" reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US. In 1985, Ocean won the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance for his worldwide hit "Caribbean Queen " and in 1987 was nominated for the Brit Award for Best British Male Artist. His 1988 hit "Get Outta My Dreams, Get into My Car" reached No. 1 in the US and No. 3 in the UK. His 1986 hit "There'll Be Sad Songs " also reached No. 1 in the US.

Fischer maintained her career as a session singer and continues to accompany The Rolling Stones on every one of their tours since 1989. [12] She worked as a backup vocalist during the same period for Luther Vandross for the 22 years prior to his death, [13] 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.

Session musician Profession; musician hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances

Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent members of a musical ensemble or band. They work behind the scenes and rarely achieve individual fame in their own right as soloists or bandleaders. However, top session musicians are well known within the music industry, and some have become publicly recognized, such as the Wrecking Crew, and The Funk Brothers who worked with Motown Records.

Luther Vandross American singer, songwriter, and record producer

Luther Vandross Jr. was an American singer, songwriter and record producer. Throughout his career, Vandross was an in-demand background vocalist for several different artists including Todd Rundgren, Judy Collins, Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, David Bowie, Ben E. King, and Donna Summer. He later became a lead singer of the group Change, which released its gold-certified debut album, The Glow of Love, in 1980 on Warner/RFC Records. After Vandross left the group, he was signed to Epic Records as a solo artist and released his debut solo album, Never Too Much, in 1981.

The Rolling Stones English rock band

The Rolling Stones are an English rock band formed in London in 1962. The first stable line-up consisted of bandleader Brian Jones, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman (bass), Charlie Watts (drums), and Ian Stewart (piano). Stewart was removed from the official line-up in 1963 but continued to work with the band as a contracted musician until his death in 1985. The band's primary songwriters, Jagger and Richards, assumed leadership after Andrew Loog Oldham became the group's manager. Jones left the band less than a month before his death in 1969, having already been replaced by Mick Taylor, who remained until 1974. After Taylor left the band, Ronnie Wood took his place in 1975 and continues on guitar in tandem with Richards. Since Wyman's departure in 1993, Darryl Jones has served as touring bassist. The Stones have not had an official keyboardist since 1963, but have employed several musicians in that role, including Jack Nitzsche (1965–1971), Nicky Hopkins (1967–1982), Billy Preston (1971–1981), Ian McLagan (1978–1981), and Chuck Leavell (1982–present).

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. [14] 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." [15] 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”. [16]

The Grammy Award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance was an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to female recording artists for quality R&B songs. Awards in several categories are distributed annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to album sales or chart position."

Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums is a chart published by Billboard magazine that ranks R&B and hip hop albums based on sales in the United States and is compiled by Nielsen SoundScan. The name of the chart was changed from Top R&B Albums in 1999. The chart debuted in the magazine as Hot R&B LPs in 1965, and were also called Top Black Albums; from 1969-1978 they were identified as Soul charts. The US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums tracks the albums of quiet storm, urban contemporary, soul music, R&B, new jack swing, hip hop, and sometimes house music artists.

The Billboard 200 is a record chart ranking the 200 most popular music albums and EPs in the United States. It is published weekly by Billboard magazine. It is frequently used to convey the popularity of an artist or groups of artists. Often, a recording act will be remembered by its "number ones", those of their albums that outperformed all others during at least one week. The chart grew from a weekly top 10 list in 1956 to become a top 200 in May 1967, and acquired its present title in March 1992. Its previous names include the Billboard Top LPs (1961–72), Billboard Top LPs & Tape (1972–84), Billboard Top 200 Albums (1984–85) and Billboard Top Pop Albums.

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 . [17] 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. [18] In a recent article, Fischer compared back-up singing to being a "tuning fork"; [19] 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. [20] 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.

1996: Theatre

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. [21] 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. [22]

1996–2013: Backup singing

Fischer performing in 2008 Lisa Fischer with mic.jpg
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. [23] 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. [24] 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, [25] 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 [26] and continued to appear at their 2012 concerts. [27]

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. [28]

In 2013, Fischer joined the rock band Nine Inch Nails as a backing vocalist for their Tension 2013 tour. [29] [30]

2013–2014: 20 Feet from Stardom

Fischer singing with Jagger and The Rolling Stones during their Fifty and Counting Tour, in Boston Mass., June 12, 2013 The Rolling Stones featuring vocalist Lisa Fischer.jpg
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), [31] which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was released on June 21, 2013. [32] 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. [33] 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. [34]

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. [35]

2014–Present: Solo Career

Fischer performing with JC Maillard in 2016 Lisa Fischer and JC Maillard Cosmopolite (202838).jpg
Fischer performing with JC Maillard in 2016

In 2014, Fischer began her solo tour accompanied by her backup band the trio Grand Baton; [36] and together they have performed in the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. [37] [38] [39] [40] 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. [41] 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. [42]

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. [43] The Propelled Heart premiered at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco on November 6, 2015. [44] In September 2017, Fischer reprised her role in The Propelled Heart at the Kwai Tsing Theatre in Hong Kong [45] 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. [46]

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 [47] including Louie Vega Starring...XXVIII with Louie Vega and The Elements of Life; [48] Sing Me Home with Yo-Yo Ma, The Silkroad Ensemble, and Gregory Porter; [49] as well as New York Rhapsody with Lang Lang and Jeffrey Wright. [50] 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. [51]

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. [52] The orchestral arrangements were written by Chris Walden.




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

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 DocumentaryHerself
2013 20 Feet from Stardom DocumentaryHerself
2017Every Night’s a Saturday NightDocumentaryHerself
2017The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers Live at The Fonda Theatre 2015DocumentaryHerself
2018Notes From the FieldTelevision FilmPerformer & Composer


1996Born to Sing! [53] Doris Winter Union Square Theatre [54]
August 1996 – January 1997

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