Nobody can ever deny that Lisa Fischer is a phenomenal and exceptional singer. Her incredible range and smokey backing vocals could distinctly be heard when she was a background singer for another stellar singer, the late Luther Vandross. A new generation of fans became familiar with Lisa with a tribute film from 2013 “20 Feet from Stardom” which was a movie predominately about female background singers who never really got the credit they deserved.
In the film Fischer, unlike the other women, admits she was perfectly content being a background singer even though she had more success than all the other women in the movie with her debut album in 1991. “So Intense” was Lisa Fischer’s debut but she used an alias in the early 80s and had a big club hit “On the Outside” going by the name Xena.
Lisa’s smash hit from So Intense was “How Can I Ease the Pain” which reached Number 11 on the Billboard pop charts in 1991 and Number 1 on the R&B Charts. Another single “Save Me” was a huge club hit and reached Number 7 on the R&B charts, then Fischer vanished. She would disappear and reappear for long periods popping up on projects for other singers or she would contribute a solo single. She stated in the movie that Elektra (the label she was on at the time) wanted the next album but it was taking too long so she walked. It’s an amazing irony that a woman with her talent as well as a Top 5 debut album didn’t want to sing in the foreground.
Perhaps it was selfish of me to expect that 24 years later she would still be able to hit those incredible superhuman notes and while she came extremely close, I was more disappointed in her performance. I can understand that it was her first night of 4 or 5 and it was a small intimate crowd but when I pay to hear a singer sing… (yes, I actually PAID for this, it was not free) I want to hear them SING. With all due respect to Lisa, there was just too much improvising, vocal gymnastics, whispering, clowning around and unfamiliar music. Even with all that she can still sing but the first 4 or 5 songs were songs I have never heard before, then she finally broke into “How Can I Ease the Pain but she completely rearranged. There is nothing like going to hear a singer sing their biggest hit and they change it. After that, I lost interest. She sang a couple of other songs but I could not motivate myself to be interested so I left. I’m not sure what happened for the rest of the set but I hope the second half was better than the first. A good friend A. Scott Galloway informed me that he greatly enjoyed the show and he told me he didn’t think I would like it. He informed me that Lisa is actually promoting her new group Lisa Fischer and Grand Baton. I was wondering why there was so much focus on the guitarist.
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