"A decision to learn a new language, a deep and strong pull towards the ambient sensuality of jazz standards, and a couple of years of research and writing around issues of contemporary sexuality, are a large part this songwriter's inspiration."
When I first heard Lisa McCormick's (www.lisamccormick.com) music on my way to work one morning, I melted into my seat. Her incredibly smooth and sultry vocals and intimate approach aroused my curiosity and senses. The way she sang the Latin songs like "Toda Una Vida" and "Odiame" just knocked my socks off. She surely had to have Latino blood somewhere in her veins! In addition, her ode to love "96.8 X 2" says it all, directly with no pretense. That song is ripe and ready for radio airplay, as are many of the other tracks on the eclectic jazz-based recording "Mystery Girl."
RealAudio: "Mystery Girl"
I just had to find out what makes this girl tick, what inspires her to make such beautiful and inspiring music. If she was anything like her music, I knew I would be in for one hell of a ride asking her some questions!
Lisa McCormick has played guitar since she was ten years old, but never thought of herself as much of a singer until many years later. It was more by default != she aspired to be a rock 'n roll lead guitar player and in her opinion she wasn't any good. To keep interested, she started writing songs and singing them, and through that process, found her bearings as a singer.
Having recorded four CD's of original material including "Right Now," produced by veteran folk/rocker Jonathan Edwards, a solo acoustic EP titled "Seven Solos," then another fully produced project, "Sacred," she felt a little time off was in order. That period of regeneration allowed new influences to settle in and have their way with her and the result was "Mystery Girl."
Many people who are familiar with McCormick's work say that this is the best she has ever done and she is quick to agree. Lisa noted, "There is purity about this project that I love. My producer, Julian McBrowne, and I did not carry on with this project with regard for the market, timeline, or any specific goals save for making the finest record we could make. Through that approach, we ended up with a CD on which every song is free to express itself fully. Of course, that also adds up to a CD which is tough to categorize and challenging to market, but I guess that is the tradeoff for doing pure creative work without worrying about how it will fit a particular niche."
RealAudio: "Toda una Vida"
For Lisa, writing the material for "Mystery Girl" was a culmination of some unlikely factors, which she never dreamed would end up joining together to form the project. AA decision to learn a new language, a deep and strong pull towards the ambient sensuality of jazz standards, and a couple of years of research and writing around issues of contemporary sexuality, are a large part this songwriter's inspiration. Through the CD she successfully expresses the musical explorations with sounds that draw from jazz and Latin influences. From a purely lyrical standpoint, her expressions, philosophy, mood, ambience and an overall conversation about love, sensuality, sexuality and human connectedness puts the music into the right setting and tone to fit the subject matter.
When I asked Lisa if she was of Latino background and if singing in a different language was easier than speaking it, she replied, "With a name like McCormick and a full crop of red curls, I'm afraid I cannot claim a drop of Hispanic origin. However, a couple of years ago I decided to try to learn Spanish from scratch. What an undertaking! I went to Guatemala to study in a language school in the city of Antigua for a couple of weeks.
"I thought I would bring a guitar along and see if I might be inspired to learn some new chord flavorings and rhythms while visiting a Latin American country. Moreover, I thought it might help me connect with the local folks if I had a Spanish song or two that I could play != you know, sort of a good will offering! I asked a Latino friend of mine if he could recommend a couple of old favorites that I could learn. He handed me a Jose Feliciano CD and pointed out a couple of tracks. I had no idea what I was saying at the time, but I managed to learn the songs well enough to pull them off.
RealAudio: "Lay Me Down"
"I found that I loved singing in Spanish, and I loved the musical sensibilities != the minor chords, the sensuous rhythms. Singing in Spanish is easier than speaking the language for me because I can take the time to learn the lines! It is not like that in conversation, where you have to come up with nouns, verbs, and adjectives on the fly!"
"At the same time, I also found myself being pulled towards some loungy, jazz sounds and I spent some time learning the chording and guitar techniques that would allow me to do some writing in that genre. Having worked more in the realms of contemporary folk and pop in the past, both the jazz and the Latin influences were very new and exciting to me, putting me in the position of learning new things, thinking outside my own box and creating in brand new ways."
I told Lisa that listening to her beautiful voice made me think... She must have listened to all the greats: Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Peggy Lee, and many more. I then asked her what she attributed her source of inspiration to. "At the risk of sounding too 'out there', I have to confess that I attribute my main source of inspiration to some unseen creative force... you can call it God, or the Muse or whatever you like. I purposely do not listen to other artists in an attempt to study or emulate their technique. Rather, I try to work in a relative vacuum, letting the inspiration move me to sing, write and perform in a way that is more purely creative, as opposed to imitative or derivative.
"However, as a creature of this culture, I am, and always have been, surrounded by influences. My Dad listened to a lot of jazz in the house when I was a kid. I did not particularly like it at the time, but clearly it seeped in and re-emerged many years later with its own story to tell. I sing these songs the way I feel them - relaxed, honest and sensual."
"Mystery Girl" is an independently released album on Lisa's own label Ruthie's Noise Productions. it is available through her website at www.LisaMcCormick.com, as well as at Amazon.com and CDBaby.com. McCormick and her team are currently working with a radio promoter who is getting the CD out to AAA stations nationwide, while Lisa is concurrently managing the efforts to get the CD out to independent radio programs that feature women artists, acoustic music and the like.
They are also in the process of approaching some selected smaller record labels with the help of an entertainment lawyer and negotiating for a couple of cuts to be included in compilation CD's. In addition to all of that activity, this busy woman is working with a writer to produce a feature article for a nationally published magazine. To top it all off, Lisa is planning an album release concert in her hometown, which will benefit two regional AIDS service providers.
McCormick ended our conversation by saying, "The music business is in such a state of flux right now, it is impossible to know exactly how it will all shake out. Meanwhile, we are taking matters into our own hands and moving forward with all we can humanly do as a very small crew on an even smaller budget, but with a project that we deeply believe in. The day is still young. 'Mystery Girl' has been in our hands only a few short weeks and it is being received with great enthusiasm. I think what is very satisfying to me is that people seem to 'get' it. The comments we get back speak to the honesty, the sensuality, the sexiness, the humanity and the spirituality of the project. As far as I am concerned, that is where success lies, not in big sales numbers, but in the opportunity to really touch some hearts in a meaningful way."