Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman's term, from the body electric.”

— Frances Mayes, author, San Jose Mercury

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein), singer and poet


Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) is a unique combination: award-winning literary poet and riveting singer, performer, and recording artist.

HER LITERARY POETRY is featured in her second book God in Her Ruffled Dress (What Books Press), her most recent full-length record "Reverberant" (Piece of Pie Records), her first book The Transparent Body (Wesleyan University Press), the chapbook Anorexia (Five Fingers Poetry), and 60+ literary magazines and anthologies, including Antaeus, Caliban, City Lights Review, Field, Kenyon Review, Lilith, Ploughshares, Poetry International, Tikkun, and Zyzzyva. 

AS A SINGER-POET, LISA MELDS SUNG LYRICS AND SPOKEN POETRY in original songs and adventurously reimagined standards, with jazz, hip-hop, and electronica grooves. Her seven full-length albums and various singles released since 1999 all received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter jazz, college, and free-form stations.

THEY ALSO GARNERED CRITICAL ACCLAIM in Jazz Times, Jazziz, All About Jazz, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Philadelphia Daily News, and many other publications. 

All of Lisa B's CDs were recorded at Pajama Studios in Oakland, Calif. in close collaboration with Grammy-nominated producer-engineer-composer James Gardiner (Jim), who has 42 gold- and platinum-certified records as an engineer.

SHE HAS PERFORMED AT 90+ VENUES in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, in fall 2023 beginning a book tour augmented by some musical performances.

SHE HAS WON FELLOWSHIPS OR GRANTS from the City of Oakland, United States Artists, Hardly Strictly Music Relief Fund, California Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities, the East Bay/Oakland Relief Fund for Individuals in the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and the Puffin Foundation. With a master's degree in English literature/creative writing and years of experience as a coach and teacher, she offers a range of workshops/clinics to performers and creators. She also works as a professional psychic reader and coach

More of Lisa B's Story

Poetry and jazz have always been a part of Lisa B's life.

Lisa's mother wrote poetry, and her father was a serious aficionado of avant-garde jazz as well as a friend to many musicians, whom Lisa met at a young age, including Jackie McLean, Elvin Jones, Cecil Taylor, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago.
AS A CHILD, LISA B STUDIED CLASSICAL PIANO, WHILE HER LISTENING RANGED FROM JAZZ — in particular, her parents’ favorites Carmen McRae and John Coltrane — to R&B and musical theater. But as an adult, her first forays into live performance were public readings of her own poetry.
HER POEMS BEGAN APPEARING IN LITERARY JOURNALS AND HER FIRST FULL-LENGTH BOOK WAS PUBLISHED in 1989 by the prestigious Wesleyan University Press New Poets series. Meanwhile, Lisa B found that standing up alone before an audience with just her own words was powerful training in performance. 

In a natural progression, Lisa embarked on the study of jazz and groove singing and composition — incorporating poetry into her musical performances.
HER KEY MUSICAL INFUENCES SPAN not only Coltrane and McRae, but also the bedrock of the Great American Songbook; vocal jazz pioneers Sheila Jordan, Jeanne Lee, and Lambert, Hendricks & Ross; melders of jazz, poetry, and soul Gil Scott-Heron and Jill Scott; and two who testify in music and verse, Aretha Franklin and Allen Ginsberg.
THE SPOKEN VERSE SHE INTEGRATES INTO HER SONGS reflects the influence of 1950s public poetry readings to jazz accompaniment, the biting rhythms of contemporary creative rap, and the poetic lyrics  of modern singer-songwriters. The result on her seven albums and various singles is genre-bending and multidimensional.

RETURNING TO A FOCUS ON WRITING POETRY FOR THE PAGE WHEN COVID CURTAILED PERFORMANCES, Lisa was thrilled to secure the Oct. 2023 publication of her second full-length volume of poems by What Books Press.

A RESIDENT OF OAKLAND, CALIF., Lisa B's celebration of Oakland includes her music video “Holiday in Oakland,” which went viral locally and was nominated for an Oakland Indie Award. She has mentored youth through the public schools, city parks and recreation programs, and the Boys & Girls Club. 
SHE WORKS NOT ONLY AS AN ARTIST and educator but also as a professional psychic.

"God in Her Ruffled Dress" ~ New Poetry Book

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)'s new collection of poems out now from What Books Press


Read this volume of poems as a reminderthat we can imagine and name the mysterious and sometimes intimate life force that some call God“ - Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer, Harbor Review

Strange, musical, funny, sexy poems. Look no further for a deeply spiritual, feminist celebration in verse - Diana Whitney, Girl Trouble

“A multifaceted collection that challenges the reader’s…understanding of topics from gender to eroticism…powerful physicality associated with the divine that is seldom approached so boldly" - A. R. Arthur, Full House Review

A playful, soulful, feminist imagining of how we experience the sacred” - Broad Street Review, Best of 2023

A book of deep seeingalso a book of intense listening... a series of divine pleasures - D.A. Powell

Stunning…weaves together body, spirituality, politics, and the world we live in…will stir your mind and bring you into beauty" - Kelli Russell Agodon

Bears écriture feminine into the twenty-first century with grace, wit, and incredible technical dexterity - Kristina Marie Darling

Effortlessly surprising, thoughtful, and inventive…musical and rhythmical…terrific - Sean Singer

A dazzling lyrical demonstration…from the highs of great jazz performance to the zen of blood testing for diabetes” - Lawrence R. Smith

Superb poems...that call down the spirit" - Daniel Tiffany


See complete press here

God in Her Ruffled Dress  (What Books Press)

The second collection of poems from Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) explores the human/divine interface – body and spirit, illness and wellness, temporal and eternal – in rich, inventive, musical poems. Here erotic desire is central, feminist awareness inherent, gender many-faceted, and the lyrical impulse ever-present. 

Published by the fine L.A.-based literary publisher What Books Press, it reached all online booksellers Dec. 4, 2023, after a soft publication mid-October.

Bookended by two poem-prayers, the volume has four sections: 
“Return to the Body” delves into the author’s longstanding type 1 diabetes, Biblical scripture, and spiritual transformation. 
“Drum the Beginning of the World” offers homages to jazz masters and explores Lisa B’s practice as a vocalist.
“Sever the Head” comprises poems inspired by pandemic politics. 
Finally, “Propagate" probes love, sensuality, birth, and death. 

Order a signed copy now!

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Audiobook coming soon!

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A singer, spoken-word artist and poet with an incisive way of chronicling situations, memories, and emotions... a pliable, expressive voice dipped in blue... saucily suggestive... imagistic.”

— Lucy Tauss, Jazz Times

Daring, dexterous singer/songwriter/poet Lisa B... with appeal to both traditional and contemporary jazz tastes and even hip-hop hipsters.”

— Jonathan Takiff, Philadelphia Daily News

Strange, musical, funny, sexy poems. Look no further for a deeply spiritual, feminist celebration in verse. ”

— Diana Whitney, Girl Trouble