Lisa Forkish


Lisa Forkish is an Oakland-based vocalist, composer, arranger, and music educator. Hailing from Eugene, Oregon, Lisa was surrounded by music from an early age. During her years in Oregon, Lisa served four years as music director for the University of Oregon’s acclaimed female a cappella group, Divisi, who were second place winners of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella and featured in GQ editor Mickey Rapkin’s best-selling book “Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory” (and the recent Universal Studios film by the same name). Forkish’s arrangement of “So Are You To Me” performed by Divisi was nominated for a CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award).

Forkish went on to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston under a prestigious Vocal Performance scholarship. While at Berklee, Forkish released Between You and Me (self-released) in 2006. In an effort to combine her passion for social justice with music, Lisa also founded and chaired Musicians Against Sexual Violence, or MASsiVe: a Berklee organization working to unite men and women in the fight to end sexual violence. Lisa received a Berklee Urban Service Award for her work with MASsiVe, and her song “Solidarity,” was written for the same cause and received the Runner-Up prize in Berklee’s Songwriting for Social Change contest. Forkish graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a Bachelor’s of Music.

Today, Forkish maintains a busy performance schedule and currently dedicates part of her schedule as a faculty member in the Vocal Music department at Oakland School for the Arts. Forkish is the founder/director of Vocal Rush, the high school’s renowned a cappella ensemble who, under the leadership of “Ms. Forkish,” won an international YouTube contest, performed for California Governor Jerry Brown and President Obama, competed in the 2012 International Championship of High School A Cappella in New York City and reigned champions, opened for Warner Bros. artist Delta Rae in Los Angeles, and released an EP entitled, The Beginning.

With an artist as wide-ranging and prolific as Forkish, it can be hard to put into words exactly what her music sounds like, but one thing is for sure, Forkish is intent on delivering a story that blends traditional swing, ballads and classic soul. Forkish’s new release Bridges conveys a mix of standards and original compositions. Forkish projects a strong alto voice that delivers definite pitch and clear diction. Bridges includes eight originals and four well organized standards, all arranged by Forkish.

Forkish’s solid storytelling and her bold lyrics touch on everything from new romance (“Adrenaline”) to resisting sexual violence (“Solidarity”). The represented standards are, “I Could Have Danced All Night,” “For What It’s Worth,” "If I Should Lose You" and Forkish’s multi-instrument arrangement of “No More Blues.” Forkish is supported by a cast of musicians consisting of: Patrick Anseth - guitar, Paul Eastburn - bass, Carrie Jahde - drums, Cava Menzies - piano, John Schroder - cello, Aaron Saul - alto sax, and Sarah Vela - backing vocals.

Bridges has many colors and varying ensembles; what keeps the project fluid is Forkish’s strong writing and arranging skills and her consistent vocal performances. “Unravelling” is a ballad with sympathetic backing by guitarist Patrick Anseth, Paul Eastburn on double bass and Carrie Jahde on drums. The lyrics are outstanding and sung with heartfelt delivery over gentle harmony. “Cold Light of Day” and “City of Bridges” have a definite Folk finish. Forkish’s not afraid to bring a social consciousness to the project with the lyrics of “Solidarity,” (runner-up in Berklee’s Songwriting For Social Change contest) which features a choral a capella ending that is very emotive.

Forkish puts her swing hat on for “Fools in Love,” and the band gives an enjoyable foundation for some nice relaxed phrasing, as well as scatting from Forkish’s alto voice. “No More Blues” is given a larger ensemble treatment along with “I Could Have Danced All Night,” that has some fine solo work by guitarist Patrick Anseth and Aaron Saul on alto saxophone. “Cold Light of Day” is a nice waltz that enlists long cello lines from John Schroder and well-executed vocal harmony by Sarah Vela. The result is a jazz/pop fusion that is very enjoyable and perhaps the trademark of Forkish’s vocal and writing expertise.

Tracks: Adrenaline; For What It's Worth; Cold Light Of Day; City of Bridges; If I Should Lose You; I Could Have Danced All Night; Unraveling; You Give Me Breath; Fools In Love; No More Blues; Solidarity; All The Stars Will Allow.

Personnel: Lisa Forkish: vocals; Patrick Anseth: guitar; Paul Eastburn: bass; Carrie Jahde: drums. Special Guests: Cava Menzies: piano (5,10,11,); John Schroder: cello (3,12); Aaron Saul: alto sax (4,6); Sarah Vela: vocals; (2,3,7,8,11,12).

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H. Allen Williams