Thursday, February 21st, 2013 1:09 AM PST
Jazz & Beyond
Spoken Word & Song
Sunday, October 25th, 2009 9:46 PM PDT
“DARING, DEXTEROUS” SINGER AND POET LISA B (Lisa Bernstein) melds jazz-and-beyond vocals with vivid spoken word. She performs originals as well as standards and covers.
“A beautiful voice, a great message, and snazzy grooves… spiritually uplifting… sultry.” – Blogcritics.com
Before becoming a singer or songwriter, Lisa B was a literary poet, with poems published in respected literary magazines and anthologies and a poetry book accepted by a major university press. But she had always longed to be a musical performer, having grown up knowing many notable jazz musicians, playing classical piano, and singing along to Broadway musicals, pop, and soul.
Active in the poetry scene in San Francisco, Lisa B gave many poetry readings in the City and in Santa Cruz, New York, and Los Angeles. She began to harness the magic of the live lyric. Standing up alone in a room with just her own words proved to be powerful training in performance.
She soon segued into singing. Five CDs later, Lisa B keeps fusing song with poetic spoken word. No other performing artist has received accolades from major jazz magazines such as Jazz Times and Jazziz along with a National Endowment for the Arts creative writing fellowship (then $20k).
Lisa B's influences span Gil Scott-Heron and the Great American Songbook, Carmen McRae and Aretha, Joni MItchell and John Coltrane, Emily Dickinson and Pablo Neruda, the Beat poets and neo-soul...
An Oakland, Calif., resident for more than two decades, Lisa B has been active in her community working with youth, including teaching a children's poetry writing and performance workshop at the Allendale Rec Center, volunteering at the High St. Boys & Girls Club, and teaching poetry-writing as a weekly volunteer to 2nd- through 4th-graders in the Emeryville public elementary school, including securing a grant to publish their work.
Her celebration of Oakland includes her new music video "Holiday in Oakland" (see below), which went viral locally in 12/13 (see the Press page of this site for a bit more).
See her bio (long and short versions) below (under the videos!).
Lisa has released five full-length CDs on her own Piece of Pie Records:
* CHRISTMAS TIME IS HERE (AND CHANUKAH AND THE SOLSTICE) (2011)
* THE POETRY OF GROOVE (2009)
* WHAT'S NEW, PUSSYCAT?: TUNES & TALES ABOUT COOL CATS (2006)
* CENTER OF THE RHYME (2003)
* FREE ME FOR THE JOY (1999)
“Lisa Bernstein's mix of spoken word poetry...and passionate jazzy, high-register vocalizing is …hard to resist.” - All Music Guide
"Great pipes...talented songwriter." - Jazziz
"She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!" - Gary Hamada, Jazz and Blues Company Concert Manager/KRML-FM
“Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B...with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even hip-hop hipsters.” - Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News
“Funky, fresh and sexy as all hell...seamless blending of jazz, hip-hop, soul, spoken word and popular music... One of the most daring and deft performers I've come across in a while.” - Jordan Richardson, Blogcritics and Canadian Audiophile
“It is her gift that she manages, through the extreme clarity of her images, always to engage us.” - Booklist
“Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman's term, from the body electric.” – Francis Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and other books, review in San Jose Mercury News
“Her voice is a lovely instrument, her timbre warm, her phrasing fluid, her articulation pristine, and she possesses an emotional range that makes lyrics sound like truth. She sings like the dickens.” - Ted Panken, jazz critic for Downbeat, Jazziz, and more
Sunday, October 25th, 2009 9:43 PM PDT
VIDEOS! A Mix of Single-Photo Presentations, Slideshows, and Dynamic Footage
ORIGINALS AND REIMAGININGS
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007 3:15 AM PDT
LONGER BIO (see below for shorter bio)
The jazz singer, songwriter, and poet Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) performs originals and standards, often interwoven with her spoken poetry and poetic rap. "An originator," "mesmerizing," "daring and deft," and "passionate," critics have described her. She is a storyteller in song: one noted writer commented, "she possesses an emotional range that makes lyrics sound like truth" (Ted Panken).
She was raised in New York and Northern California in a book- and music-filled home. As a child she was lucky to meet musician friends of her parents such as Cecil Taylor and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
She was inspired by jazz, soul, pop, rock, and show tunes. She studied classical piano from elementary school to high school and wrote songs and stories. She also wrote and studied poetry seriously since her teens, going on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in creative writing/literature from UC Santa Cruz and San Francisco State University, respectively (she returned to the latter institution for a term as Associate Director of The Poetry Center).
Two books of her poetry have been published, the chapbook Anorexia (Five Fingers Poetry) and The Transparent Body (Wesleyan University Press). Her poems have appeared in more than 60 literary magazines and anthologies. She has received grants and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and Puffin Foundation.
Lisa B’s many public poetry readings in the San Francisco Bay Area evolved into performances. One was a two-night, sold-out piece at the leading experimental theatre The Lab that included dancers and live music.
Lisa B then began to focus on songwriting, singing, and music, studying first at the Blue Bear School of Music, then with renowned Bay Area vocal coach Jane Sharp. Lisa was soon gigging frequently, performing jazz and selected pop standards along with her own compositions. She has since performed at more than 80 clubs, performance spaces, colleges, bookstores, and radio stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and New York.
While often composing lyrics and music on her own, Lisa B enjoys collaborating with musicians, including singer-pianist Barbara Higbie (Windham Hill, women’s music); Latin jazz trombonist-arranger Wayne Wallace (Patois Records); and her longtime cowriter-producer-engineer, Jim (James) Gardiner (whose credits include Deniece Williams, Digital Underground, En Vogue, E-40, John Lee Hooker Jr., Pharoah Sanders, Rickie Lee Jones, David Grisman, Seattle Symphony, numerous soundtracks and video games, and much more).
Lisa B also applies her spirit of inventive collaboration—and her unique blend of poetic spoken word with jazz-soul song—to existing compositions: Cole Porter's “Night and Day” merged with Lisa's magical poetic rap “The Cat Goddess”; her spoken-word original “Joe Williams Died Walking” performed with “Every Day I Have the Blues”; Bobby Caldwell’s “What You Won’t Do for Love” with new poetic rap; and Lisa B’s heartrending poem “Trane’s Ride” performed with Coltrane’s “Naima.”
Lisa B's five full-length CDs have received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter stations and excellent reviews in All Music Guide, Jazz Times, Jazziz, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. Meanwhile, she continues to write and publish poetry for the page, with recent publications in esteemed periodicals such as Caliban and War, Literature & the Arts. She also offers workshops on mind-body-spirit tools for performers. Her sixth CD will be released in 2017: "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined."
The jazz singer, songwriter, and poet Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) performs standards and originals, often interwoven with her spoken poetry. "An originator," "mesmerizing," and "passionate," critics have described her. She is a storyteller in song: one noted writer commented, "she possesses an emotional range that makes lyrics sound like truth" (Ted Panken).
Lisa B has released five CDs, with a sixth coming in early 2017: "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined." She also has two poetry books (published by Wesleyan University Press and Five Fingers Poetry) to her credit. Her CDs received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter stations and excellent reviews in All Music Guide, Jazz Times, Jazziz, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. She has performed music and poetry at more than 80 clubs, performance spaces, colleges, and bookstores.
Lisa B has taught classes on mind-body-spirit tools for performers and on creative writing at San Francisco State, Foothill College, Skyline College, the Jazzschool (now California Jazz Conservatory), Blue Bear School of Music, Anna Yates Elementary School, and the Allendale Recreation Center. She has master's and bachelor's degrees in English literature/creative writing from San Francisco State and UC Santa Cruz, respectively.