Carol Forsloff—Once in awhile we happen upon a musician that stands out dramatically. There is something special, something hauntingly beautiful that attracts the listener. Then there is a quality from the soul outward through the voice, bringing magic to all who listen. That is Lisa Gill.
I met Lisa on a site called Fandalism, a site we both belong to for musicians all over the world, created by Philip Kaplan. But it is that magic of Lisa, something deep within her that reached out to me, and a voice that struck me as special early on when I first heard her sing. As a journalist, my first loyalty is to other people, whose talents bring them to that place where my pen—now transformed into computer keys—becomes impatient with offering the gift. And the gift is being able to write about someone so extraordinary that no one would want to miss her performances.
I asked Lisa a series of questions to get her take on the world of music, what led her to music herself and what obstacles she had in finding that music style that tugs at the heart in special ways.
Q: How did you get started in music? Who motivated you in your family or friends or others along the way and how? What were your earliest activities in music? Did you get involved as a child or later?
A: My music roots began in a Southern Baptist Church located in the small town of Roachdale, Indiana. This is the place that our student minister leader would sing old-time hymns. His delicate touch of his guitar playing, and his beautiful voice touched me. I’d find myself crying during his performances, at age 5, I had no idea the things that were happening to me inside however I knew that music moved me emotionally and spiritually.
My motivation to sing came from the influence of my family, my mama had a beautiful high soprano voice, daddy had a good baritone voice, and picked up his guitar a time or two. My parents felt that I had a gift at an early age of 5 and encouraged me to sing in Church, I began to sing solos at 6 years old. and also joining an adult trio singing alto. A funny memoir at age 6 was singing ” Lighthouse on the Hillside”, and in the middle of the song, I had forgotten that I had chewing gum in my mouth, so I stopped everything and stuck the gum on a pew, it was not a classy move, but I was just a little girl.
I would be painfully shy at times, my family would want me to sing a song and I would sit at the top of the stairs singing “The Carpenters” with the door cracked, or sing a song like ” Delta Dawn”, I didn’t want them to watch me, however when I was in church it came easily for me to sing in front of a crowd. It didn’t even phase me, anywhere else I would freeze up and nearly cry. Once I became comfortable with my voice, around 6 years old, you really couldn’t stop me singing, my parents would have a gathering, and before you knew it I would crawl on top of the kitchen table and turn the focus on me.
I sang very little during my teenage and early adulthood, with an exception of some weddings and at church, or in the musical “Annie Get your Gun” performing as Annie Oakley. Although I would sing on my own at home, I seemed to have let my vocals slip away. The focus of my life at the time was on sports and college friends, parties and social gatherings.
Q: You have a voice that is good for many types of music. What are your personal favorite types? What type of entertainers touch you these days?
A: Thank you Carol, my favorite personal types are blues, rock, soul, and anything that has a haunting feel to it. I love to sing all genres as each genre has a special quality to the music. I cannot narrow it down to one, as I do sing them all.
I grew up in a strict religious family, the music we listened to in our household were of old-time gospel, Johnny Cash, John Denver, and “The Carpenters”. Although my sister and I would listen to Donna Summer, the Bee Gees and Sean Cassidy in our bedrooms. Often I would imitate Donna Summer when I played a song.
I had a big imagination, one day I packed my suitcase at age 8, pretending I was heading to Hollywood to be a star, and I would start walking down our long gravel road singing “California here I come “…I was likely a sight to see for folks around me at the time.
My personal favorite songs are ones with depth, it can be with any artist, for me to sing a song has to touch me in some kind of profound way, true feeling and emotion can only be emitted from the heart. These artists include Damien Rice, Jeff Buckley, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Ed Sheeran, Marianne faithfull,Stevie Nicks, Johnny Cash,Billie Holiday, Bob Seger and BB King.
My favorites among the modern performers include Coldplay, Stain’d, Radiohead, Eddie Vedder, old REM. I am also inspired by the French Cellist Jorane. Many days during recovery from an accident, I would listen to her play and she touched me in so many ways. Another favorite is “The Dave Matthews Band”, his live performances are some of the best I’ve ever seen.
Q: What obstacles have you found along the way in life and with your music? How do these obstacles impact your music?
A: I found music again after I was involved in a terrible car crash on 9/2/2001, so although physically and emotionally there were many obstacles along the way, I suffered for many years, as I was in and out of hospitals having surgeries to repair me. I was a “Train wreck” to say it mildly, accumulating 70+ surgeries along the way. Being under the knife was just a part of my life. I decided that I would not return to “Corporate America” and focus on the things that made me happy throughout my youth and adulthood. I later joined a site called ” Sing Snap” in which I decided to pursue singing again. Many years had lapsed since I picked up a microphone to sing a song prior to this, as being in a high-paced business world, I had little time to enjoy life outside an office. Sing Snap actually built my confidence up as a vocalist, and my musical journey became the second most important of my life, after my family and daughter.
4. You belong to an international community of musicians? What attracted you initially to this site and the activity there? You are popular on the site. What do you personally think is the reason for that attraction? You are beautiful. Do you think there is a bias towards good-looking women? You seem to go beyond looks to create your music so well. What have you learned about this you can share?
I belong to “Fandalism” a site created by Philip Kaplan, I have heard some of the best musicians, and vocalists in the world with over 500k sharing their love of music. I discovered the site in a Google search. I explored other sites like Reverb-nation, however the place I felt home to was “Fandalism”. After I posted my first song I was overwhelmed by the number of people that loved my sound. The warmth and friendliness, true sincerity of those I encountered along the way, inspired me to continue and help me realize that my dream as a child, never was lost, or forgotten, but restored in the realization that this is what I should be doing in my life and it’s never too late to pursue your dream.
I think perhaps I am popular on this site because I take the time to listen, and encourage. My comments are truly heartfelt My part in this industry is to aspire and inspire and give kindness to others.
I don’t look at myself as others see me, and although I have had some say to me, ” I was attracted to a picture and it made me come to your site”, then they focus on my music and say things such as, ” I was expecting a mediocre singer and you blew me away”. For me personally I don’t care what one looks like, I am there to listen and enjoy a gift we all have in some way.
Q: Sometimes you author or help author music. What kind of subjects tempt you?
A: Each song is a story to be told, I need relevance in a song, life events we all can relate to, whether it is love, pain, anger and abuse.
Q: What types of songs seem to attract you when you do a collaboration?
A: I have several people I collaborate with, it truly depends on the genre of the song. I love the blues, and anytime I can jam with someone it’s very special, like Roger Chandler of Canada, Franck Szypura of France, Célio Werneck of Rio de Janero. These are incredible guitarists that can take my song and make it a masterpiece. They are a few of many that inspire me to go beyond my limits.
When it comes to something jazzy, pop or soft in keys, Nick Rowe of Australia is always my pianist. I have also collaborated with Papa Angelo Marinosci of Rhode Island, US, whom we all love, and inspires us so much. In the near future you will also hear my poems collaborated with the sounds of “Simon Paul England” of the UK, something new and exciting to bring to Fandalism.
Q: What are your future plans for music? Where do you think the world of music is going? How can it be improved? What can people do to foster music quality?
A: I have had several band opportunities since I have joined Fandalism. I am unsure if that is the route I want to take at this time as I see myself more as a ” Solo Artist”, I plan to produce a personal album in the near future and also have plans on doing some gigs at some of our local Jazz and Blues clubs.
The music world persuades our youth, what is heard on the radio is not as profound as our earlier generations of music. Everyone has his/her taste in music, and all music is art; but we tend to forget the late greats that set the standards of high quality music. This is lacking in our generation today.
Things seem to be improving, festivals that focus on folk, rock, jazz, blues will certainly broaden one’s taste in music. I see more festivals today, than as in earlier years as a family bringing our children to such events will help our children and friends appreciate the true beauty of style, not just one.
A woman of substance in music and in life offers a perspective that is hopeful, yet challenging. If you want to listen to the heart and soul of music, you have it in the palm of your hand in a world of music, where Lisa Gill is a standout among many.