Where is Lisa Fischer's Backup?
Lisa Fischer has sung backing vocals for Dolly Parton, Bobby McFerrin, Luther Vandross and Beyoncé. She's also toured with the Rolling Stones since 1989, going from one swanky hotel to another, "eating caviar for breakfast" and playing sold out stadiums. “I feel like a normal girl,” she says, “visiting for a very long time in the not-normal world.”
It wasn’t the world she came from. Lisa grew up in Brooklyn. Her mom was pregnant with her at 15, and had two more children by the time she was 19. Money was tight, and when Lisa was 14, her father left. Her mom started drinking heavily, and died three years later after complications from seizures.
By her mid-twenties, she was touring as a backup singer, and in 1991 she won a Grammy for her first solo album, So Intense. But soon after, she lost her record deal, and returned to singing backup. The 2013 documentary Twenty Feet from Stardom highlighted some of the glory, and struggle, that came with her years on the road. "When I think about the money that I have gone through I have to laugh to myself," she told me during our conversation. "I don’t like to look at how much I have because it’s never enough."
Now in her 50s, she still tours regularly with the Stones and on her own. I talked with Lisa about her new approach to money in mid-life and the lingering effects of her early loss.
Below, watch Lisa Fischer in performance at the Napa Valley Film Festival, on stage with the Rolling Stones, and singing with Luther Vandross.