Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1099

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Lisa Stansfield: World Get Ready

Lisa Stansfield
Lisa Stansfield Lisa Stansfield Lisa Stansfield Lisa Stansfield

Lisa Stansfield; Brit winning, Soul/R&B singer/songwriter/superstar, with 20 million album sales to her name - these facts are well knownâ€Â¦the Lisa Stansfield I met, and had chance to ask a few searching questions to, you could probably add other descriptive words to, like; recluse, plain-speaking, learned, dogged, determined, revitalisedâ€Â¦oh and I nearly forget, cheeky!

I did ask the big questionâ€Â¦'where the heck have you been?' Which is answered in our print issueâ€Â¦but lets start at the beginning because this cracker of a story, in my eyes, deserves a very quick recap - well it has been a while hasn't it?!

Lisa (Jane) Stansfield was born in Heywood, in the borough of Rochdale, Greater Manchesterâ€Â¦three months before England won the World Cup - being a gentleman, I'll let you can work out her age!

After co-hosting a children's TV show called Razzamatazz as a teenager and completing the odd jingle for various radio stations in the Manchester area, Lisa was signed by Arista Records and the rest, for 'solo Stansfield' ...wasn't-quite-history!

Firstly, the early nineties saw Stansfield become part of pop trio Blue Zone. This band formation came about quite by chance when eventual husband/writing partner/manager, Ian Devaney ran into old school friend Stansfield in a club - after the suggestion of getting together to start a band Devaney and Stansfield were soon joined by third member, session musician, Andy Morris.

Blue Zone would go on to have limited success with singles; "Love Will Wait" (86), "Finest Thing" (86), "On Fire" (87), and "Jackie" (88). But it was to be a B-Side which was to kick start the ball rolling on the crucial transition from band member/front women to solo superstarâ€Â¦The song was called "Big Thing" (88) and was a B-side to "Thinking About His Baby" (87) and if you've done your maths you will notice that it took a year for this fine tune to get the airplay/love it deserved. Stansfield recalls "You must know the song 'Big Thing' - it was the B-side, when there were B-sides, to a real pop song and everyone in London really went mad about it!â€Â¦all the clubsâ€Â¦ It sold so many copies in a week, the record company came back to us and said 'your record sold like 10,000 copies within the last week.' We were like 'nahh, (laughs) I don't think so!' Then we realised it was 'Big Thing!' Everyone was just going MAD over it, so then we sat down and said we really need to re-think it all - that's when we decided to work with Cold Cut cos we know them." In fact, this proved to be a real turning point in Stansfield's career when she sang guest lead on the track "People Hold On," first released in 1989 (UK #11) and then re-released to better effect in 1997 (#4) - it was the success of this track in '89 which made the decision final. "Ian and Andy said 'you should be a solo artist'â€Â¦then I burst out crying!â€Â¦It was horrible, it was like (laughs as she does an impression of her then band mates) 'you go then, you f#cking go and do it all!'"

Stansfield explains the going solo process further "Yeah, we sat down with management and I went (mimicking how she cried) 'but I can't do it all on me own! What if I can't answer a question?' That was my fist panicâ€Â¦what if I can't answer a question, what if I don't know the answer to a question? Because Ian and Andy were always on either sideâ€Â¦SOMEONE would look at me and ask a question and I'd go (looking either side of her as if to refer to the other band members) 'what do you think?' (laughs)â€Â¦That was one thing about my life and everything I've done really, it's like I've been on a diving board scared out of my life and someone just keeps pushing me!â€Â¦it's like, if someone asks me to do something and it seems like a really exciting project, but I maybe really frightened about it, nine times out of then I'll say yes imminently because then I can worry after I've said yes!"

Explaining the difficulties she encountered at the start of her solo career, especially in the U.S. as a white artist mistakenly thought of as black because of the R&B infused material she released. "Well is was funny in a way because now it could NEVER happen, but THEN people had never seen me, they had no idea that I was white - they had no idea that I was white and skinny, they thought that I was a big black women!"

Lisa Stansfield tours Europe through May and returns to the U.K. in June to start a nationwide tour to the following venues: York, Opera House 10th, Edinburgh, Queen’s Hall 11th, Newcastle, Tyne Theatre 12th, London, Hampton Court Palace 14th, Manchester, Salford Lowry 15th, Birmingham, Symphony Hall 16th. Tickets: - 24 hrs hotline 0844-811-0051

Also look out for a new Lisa Stansfield album later in the year (full details coming soon) and an appearance in Elaine Constantine's "Northern Soul: The Movie" (later this year).

Follow on Twitter at @LisaStansfield


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