LISA MICHELLE - ROLE MODEL & AMBASSADOR
Officially Inducted into the “National Wall of Role Models” on June 7, 2014 ( See full list www.BlackCanadianAwards.com )
About Lisa: Lisa Michelle is an actor, singer and songwriter who had her first encounter with the arts at the early age of 6 years old. Since then, she has had nearly 100 live shows performing songs off her independently released albums “Love Lessons” - a warm, smooth Neo-Soul experience produced by Duff Musiq and “Rebound” – a quick hit of sexy R&B Pop produced by Dan “DFS” Johnson in Atlanta.
Lisa has performed at Canadian Music Week, Irie Music Fest and MuchMusic Video Awards. Her third studio release is called This Moment, an 8-track album that delivers ‘straight-goods’ R&B, with it’s hip hop flavour, touch of jazz and soulful vocal stylings. In our interview, she tells us more about what inspires her music and how she hopes to keep creating music forever.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? And what many people may not know about you. I'm an artist who sings, writes songs and poetry, plays a little piano, acts on TV, commercials and musical theatre. Yet, I have a diploma in advertising and marketing. I worked full time in that industry up until about 3-4 years ago.
What's your inspiration or how do you get motivated? One thing that gets me going creatively are other artists! I try to get out and see as many concerts as I can by both local and international acts. When I take in a show by a soulful & gifted musician who knows how to kill a live performance, I want to love them and be them at the same time. It all becomes fodder for the work I create for myself.
How did you get to where you are now and what more should we expect? My parents put me in piano and dance lessons at 6 years old and I did both for 10 years. Though I wouldn't call myself a pianist or a dancer at this time, it gave me musical, artistic training and performance experience from a very young age. From there, I got into musical theatre, school plays, church choir and eventually becoming a recording artist and performer. I'm forever thankful to my parents for sparking my passion as an entertainer, and supporting me all the way through.
I hope to be creating music forever, across whatever genre is inspiring me in that moment. I also want to produce an original musical, because I'm tired of auditioning for the same ones over and over again, singing songs that someone else chose for me.
What would you like to be remembered for? My art is my art. Some will like it and some won't but it's my lifethat I want to inspire people with. I want to inspire others to be who they really want to be, and free themselves from expectations that are not their own. So much of what we do is because of what other people think and believe we should be doing. As I learn to break away from that, I hope it encourages the people around me and the people watching me, to do the same.
How do you balance work, family, friends and leisure? My husband and family make it easy for me to nurture my crazy, unpredictable career as an artist. Every now and then I have to miss a birthday party or a family get-together because I have a rehearsal, audition or a show, but they all understand and they all root for me! It doesn't go unnoticed, I'm very grateful. And though I guilt myself about it sometimes, the reality is that my line of work simply doesn't fall between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 p.m. It's around the clock! I'm essentially running a multi-streamed business, where the product, marketing department and CEO is me!
What's your favorite food, book, music and movie? I LOVE Asian and Italian noodles. I could kill a bowl of pad thai or spaghetti daily, ha! And anything Jamaican, but that goes without saying. Okay let's be honest, I love food, simple and plain. My favourite book might be George Orwell's "1984". Favourite movie? iRobot. I know, it's not exactly an epic classic and everyone laughs when I say that. But there's something about that book and that movie that speaks to me. Corruption, oppression, mind-control, revolution... very big elements explored in each.
I'm a musician, so I have a new favourite song or artist that I'm feeling just about every week! But I have a glowing place in my heart that will forever burn for what's been called "Neo-Soul". I was literally awakened by the sounds of Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, D'Angelo, India Arie, Angie Stone, Maxwell, Lauryn Hill... geeze. Poetry, Sensuality, Soul, Melody... Greatness. They are the Great Ones of my time.
What's your experience as a Black person in Canada? I find this a difficult question to answer because my only experience is as a black person in Canada. I have never been another colour and I've never lived anywhere else. If I am to be extremely general, my experience thus far has been a good one. I more often feel afraid for my physical safety as a woman, than I do as a black person.
And yet, I have been called racial slurs, I have witnessed all types of racism and marginalization of blacks in the arts industry, etc. It's hard to know which battles to choose, and which to push through. I try to navigate with my eyes wide open.
What is the Black community doing right or wrong in Canada? I have way too much to learn to be calling out "rights and wrongs" within the black community on a whole at this point, but I can say something about our entertainment industry: We need to keep the scales balanced in regards to production vs. performance. In other words, we need to be creating theatre productions, showcases, TV shows and films as much as we aspire to perform in them. We are not suitably represented in the media - in numbers or as people, sometimes. We can stay outside, freezing cold, knocking on the door all night because they promised to take care of us, or we can get organized and build our own house. Our own shelter, in which we can tell our own stories and not wait around to be the token in someone else's vision. Producing work creates opportunities for ourselves, others and ensures that we are seen, heard and respected by our own standards.
Are there as many opportunities for Blacks in Canada that can produce role models and institutions like Beyonce, Tyler Perry, Obama, BET, etc. What America has over Canada in the entertainment biz is money and media influence. They do not have much else over us but that, in my opinion. Canada is thick and rich with talent, our cup runneth over with it! America creates more mega-superstars simply because they have the means to shove whatever they're selling in our faces a million times a day from a million different sources and they do this all over the world. Plus, they can do that because we let them - our TV stations are almost purely American programming and our large radio stations air American recording artists almost exclusively. We could have more uber-successful entertainers that stay on our own soil, but we give too much away. We just need to take back our media outlets and use them to illuminate our own people.
Having said that, it bothers me that we measure our standards of success as compared to the United States. America is NOT the world! And success doesn't have to be synonymous with the words rich and famous. We can do whatever we want to, however we want to, right here.
Lisa’s albums are available on iTunes. You can connect with her or listen to some of her recorded tracks online.
Facebook: www.facebook.com/lisamichellemusicTwitter: @itslismichelle