“Only the multi-talented jazz singer, songwriter, and poet Lisa B... has been weaving the kind of 'must pay attention to every word' storytelling magic that we hear...throughout her unique 20-year career.”
— Jonathan Widran, JW Vibe
“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
“Whatever she knows or sings comes, in Whitman’s term, from the body electric.”
— Frances Mayes, author, San Jose Mercury
“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
Jazz singer, poet, songwriter
Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) is a rare artist: both an accomplished jazz vocalist and an award-winning poet.
SHE IS KNOWN FOR HER ORIGINAL songs as well as her adventurously reimagined standards. These often incorporate both sung and spoken verse.
WITH PREVIOUS PERFORMANCES AT 90+ VENUES in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, Los Angeles, and elsewhere, Lisa is finalizing new dates to showcase the brand-new record "Reverberant: Poems & Music" and 2018's "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined" (current trio Ben Flint, p., Marcus Shelby, b., and Isaac Schwartz, d.).
HER SEVEN FULL-LENGTH CDS released over the past two decades received radio play and charting on hundreds of trade-reporter jazz, college, and free-form stations.
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).
HER LITERARY POETRY — featured on the new record "Reverberant" — has been published in her book "The Transparent Body" from the prestigious Wesleyan University Press poetry series and 60+ literary magazines and anthologies.
SHE WON CREATIVE WRITING FELLOWSHIPS from the National Endowment for the Arts, Headlands Center for the arts, Ucross Foundation, Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women, and others. 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.
Two records in past two years spark enthusiasm
"Reverberant: Poems & Music (Fall 2019) and "I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined" (2018) plus 5 previous acclaimed records
LISA B'S LATEST ALBUM, “REVERBERANT: POEMS & MUSIC,” released October 11, 2019, features her free-verse poems spiced with singing. Its theme of reverberation links jazz stories with tales of spiritual self-realization. "Lisa Bernstein weaves a compelling series of musical narratives... featuring a wide variety of supporting players for her rich, deep, enchanting voice. Each listening reveals previously undiscovered depths of brilliant artistry and colorful storytelling." - Chris Cooke, KIOS-FM
ON HER 2018 "I GET A KICK: COLE PORTER REIMAGINED," "With the freewheeling control [of] only the finest jazz practitioners... B takes possession of Porter’s witty, poignant stories. She deploys her considerable interpretative vocal gifts...interpolating her own spoken word passages for an evocative multilayered effect... her encyclopedic knowledge of American music canons...luminous timbre and precise articulation...melds straight interpretation with pure imagination... inspired." - Downbeat critic Ted Panken from the liner notes
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 BUT 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.
AS HER POEMS BEGAN APPEARING IN LITERARY JOURNALS AND HER BOOK WAS PUBLISHED, Lisa B found that standing up alone before an audience with just her own words was powerful training in performance. Dedicating herself to the art of jazz singing — while still incorporating poetry into her show — was a natural progression.
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 is genre-bending and multidimensional.
A RESIDENT OF OAKLAND, CALIF., Lisa B was nominated for a 2014 Oakland Indie Award. Her celebration of Oakland includes her music video “Holiday in Oakland,” which went viral locally. She has mentored youth through the public schools, city parks and recreation programs, and the Boys & Girls Club.
SHE WORKS NOT ONLY AS A SINGER-POET and educator but also as a professional psychic.
Shows & Events
More info soon: appearing at SFJazz 2020-21 season!
Lisa B will be back on the road presenting shows, clinics/workshops, and community engagement events in spring/summer 2020 after it's safe to travel again. Hang in there!
Two Show Promo Videos
"I Get A Kick: Cole Porter Reimagined"
"Reverberant: Words & Music" Audio Trailer
Selected Quotes on Shows
"That was a wonderful show last night. My friend and I had a great time. You were marvelous – charming, funny, astute, original. Your band was exquisite, each and every one of them. Your comfort on the stage and with the band felt assured.
My friend also thought you put on a fabulous show and that the musicians were outstanding. She also really enjoyed your personality and your stage presence. Kudos!!"
“Obviously you’re a gigantic talent…you totally controlled the room.”
- Robin Reichert, owner, Paradise Lounge, San Francisco
"She totally captivated the audience. She is an originator, her arrangements are mesmerizing, and her band is great!"
- Gary Hamada, Jazz and Blues Company/KRML-FM, Concert Manager
Shots from a Recent Show of "Cole Porter Reimagined" & More
Performance Venues and Schools
2nd Annual Bay Area JazzPoetry Festival, Berkeley
21 Grand, Oakland, Calif.
Above Paradise Lounge, San Francisco
The Albion, San Francisco
Angelica's, Redwood City, Calif.
Anna’s Jazz Island, Berkeley
Armando's, Martinez, Calif.
At Seventeenth, Oakland, Calif.
Avonova, Oakland, Calif.
The Back Room, Berkeley, Calif.
Bartlett Hall, Union Square, San Francisco
Berkeley Art Museum, University of California
Berkeley Art Center, Rhythm & Muse Series
Bird & Beckett, San Francisco
Bison Brewery, Berkeley
Blondie's, San Francisco
The Blue Lamp, San Francisco
The Blue Monkey Cafe, San Francisco
Borders Books and Music, many stores, Northern Calif.
Beyond Baroque, Venice, Calif.
Bottom of the Hill, San Francisco
Bud Shank Jazz Workshop, Port Townsend, Washington
Cafe Gianlucca, New York City
Cafe Pink House, Saratoga, Calif.
California Jazz Conservatory (formerly the JazzSchool), Berkeley, Calif.
Cava 555, San Francisco
Cesar Chavez Public Library, Oakland, Calif.
The Clarion Cafe, San Francisco
Club Muse, Albany, Calif.
Coco Club, San Francisco
The Coffee Mill, Oakland
The Coffee Society, Cupertino, Calif.
Das Klub/1055 Howard, San Francisco
The Donnell Library, New York City
E3 Playhouse, Santa Cruz, Calif.
East Village Coffee Lounge, Monterey, Calif.
The Elbo Room, San Francisco
Expressions Gallery, Berkeley
First St. Cafe, Benicia, Calif.
Folcrom, San Francisco
Foothill Community College, Los Altos, Calif.
Hanno's in the Alley, San Francisco
Harmony Festival, Sonoma County Fairgrounds, Santa Rosa, Calif.
The Headlands Center for the Arts, Sausalito
HEAR Music Store, Berkeley
The Hotel Utah, San Francisco
Hyatt on Union Square, San Francisco, and Hyatt Regency, Oakland
Intersection for the Arts, San Francisco
Jazz & Blues Company, Carmel, Calif.
The Jazz House, Berkeley
Jewish Community Center, Marin County, Calif.
Kelly’s, Alameda, Calif.
Kimball's Carnival, Oakland (Commissioned Poem and Performance, Memorial for Jazz Activist/KPFA-DJ Doug Edwards)
The Lab Theatre, San Francisco
La Mama Theatre (La Galleria), New York City
La Pena, Berkeley
Lake Chalet on Lake Merritt, Oakland, Calif.
The Lobby, Oakland, Calif.
The Luggage Store, San Francisco
Mason Street Wine Bar, San Francisco
Max's Diner & Bar, Downtown Oakland, Calif.
MIck's, San Francisco
Montclair Jazz Festival, Oakland, Calif.
Musically Minded Academy, Oakland, Calif.
New College of California, San Francisco
New Delhi Restaurant, San Francisco
New George’s, San Rafael, Calif.
New Performance Gallery (ODC), San Francisco
Our Lady of Fatima Villa, Saratoga, Calif.
Paradise Lounge, San Francisco
Pasand, San Francisco
Pearl’s, North Beach, San Francisco
Piaf’s, San Francisco
The Poetry Center, San Francisco
Quiet Storm, San Francisco
Rasputin’s Records, Berkeley
Rasselas, San Francisco
Redwood City Summer Concert Series, Calif.
Rising Spirits Cafe, San Francisco
Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay, Calif.
San Francisco Socialist School
The Royale (house concert), Oakland, Calif.
San Francisco State University
Santa Cruz Poetry Festival
Savanna Jazz Club, San Francisco
Shanghai 1930, San Francisco
Short on Attitude, San Francisco
Skyline Community College, Pacifica, Calif.
Small Press Traffic, San Francisco
The Sound Room, Oakland, Calif.
Spike's Speak, San Francisco
Tattoo Rose Cafe, San Francisco
Tropical Haight, San Francisco
Union Hotel, Benicia
University of California, Santa Cruz
Voulez-Vous, Berkeley, Calif.
WomenROCK 5th Anniverary Concert, The Box Factory, San Francisco
The WOW Cafe Theatre, New York City
The Writer’s Center, Washington, D.C.
Zebulon’s, Petaluma, Calif.
Barnes & Noble, Emeryville
Bonanza Books, Walnut Creek, California
Bound Together Bookstore, San Francisco
Cody’s Books, Berkeley
Diesel Books, Emeryville, California
Different Light Bookstore, San Francisco
Grand Piano Bookstore, San Francisco
Modern Times Bookstore, San Francisco
Talking Leaves Bookstore, San Francisco
Workshops/Clinics & Classes
THREE WORKSHOPS (CLINICS) AVAILABLE
In addition to her music credentials (seven records, more than 90 performances), Lisa B holds bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature/creative writing and has received creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ucross Foundation, Headlands Center for the Arts, and others. Her book of poetry was published by the prestigious Wesleyan University Press and her poems have appeared in more than 60 journals and anthologies.
In addition, she has a professional practice as a psychic reader, energy healer, and coach.
Lisa B draws on all this information in as a workshop/clinic leader and teacher. She has taught creative writing classes and the workshops/clinics described below at university, community, and K-12 schools as well as privately.
All information is available through private coaching as well.
IMAGINING AND SHAPING YOUR FIRST TRIBUTE PROJECT
Most singers and musicians were first inspired by the music of someone else. This workshop will help you shape a project (recital or recording) presenting the music of another musical artist.
Whether you’re drawn to Sarah Vaughan or Adele, Rodgers & Hammerstein or “Hamilton,” Miles Davis or Marvin Gaye, through a tribute project you can pay homage, find inspiration, stretch your musical vision and abilities, and create a frame for new work.
Get your feet wet through this fun workshop. First Lisa B will present some seminal tribute projects. Then she will help you shape a project of your own: explore your attraction to a particular artist; sketch out your vision of mood, era, and songs; and start to define instrumentation, arrangements, and tasks.
MIND-BODY-SPIRIT TOOLS FOR PERFORMERS AND CREATORS!
* Reconnect with your initial enthusiasm about creating music
* Release invalidation and judgment from your creative, performance, and career activities
* Own your body and personal energy space as a performer
* Handle nerves and anxiety
* Re-envision what success means to you
* Plan and execute short- and long-term steps in your career
Specific tools we will learn and practice:
* Centering yourself in the "driver's seat"
* Protecting your personal space
* Harnessing the information in your seven major chakras
* Envisioning and manifesting specific outcomes you want
* Keeping your energy flowing
* Finding your enthusiasm
Past participants had this to say about the mind-body-spirit tools information:
"The information presented helped me to connect with my spirit and improved my confidence. I would recommend this workshop to all singers." - M.G.
"The workshop covered a wide range of topics and techniques that I can apply to my singing. The information was understandable from every level, beginning to advanced, and adaptable." - J.B.
"I really enjoyed the combination of energy and vocal work." - C.R.
"What a wonderful workshop today! What I appreciated most was that it was not your typical workshop — exercises, sing a song. It truly was a complete overview — mind, body, and spirit." - O.J.
"The workshop was amazing. I really enjoyed the guided meditations and learning about the chakras. Still thinking about it all!" - J.T.
"Great start to discovering the artist in myself." - T.H.
"Thanks for reconnecting me to my spirit self. I forgot the little girl who just loves to sing."
"I thoroughly enjoyed it and greatly appreciate the marrying of technique and spiritual/emotional awareness." - L.W.
NEW! MIND-BODY-SPIRIT TOOLS FOR PEOPLE WITH DIABETES
Lisa is a type 1 diabetic of more than three decades, and works with diabetics of all kinds to teach mind-body-spirit tools to improve well-being. Inquire for more information!
Selected Previous Workshops (Clinics) and Classes
"A Creative Life/Mind-Body-Spirit Tools" Workshop: Campolindo High School, Moraga, Calif., Winter 2019
"Imagining Your First Tribute Project" Workshop: JazzSchool/California Jazz Conservatory, Berkeley, Summer 2018
"The Complete Singer: Spiritual, Practical, and Technical Tools to Help You Realize Your Musical Dreams (aka Mind-Body-Spirit Tools for Singers)" Workshop: co-taught with Daria: Blue Bear School of Music, San Francisco, Feb. 2015; GuitarWorks, Novato, Calif., August 2014; and Lisa's Home, Oakland, Calif., May 2014
"The Singer's Life: Where to Start (and How to Keep Going)" Workshop: The Jazzschool, Berkeley, Calif., October 2011
Poetry Writing Teacher: Anna Yates Elementary School, Emeryville, Calif., 2nd/3rd/4th Grades, Fall 2007 - Spring 2012, Fall 2014 - present
Poetry Writing Workshop: Mercy Housing After-School Program, Peanut Butter and Jamm Music Session for Kids, Spring 2010
Poetry Writing & Performance with Musicians Workshop: Allendale Recreation Center, Oakland, Calif., Kids Ages 6 - 12 (including Final Performance w/ Paul van Wageningen, drums, and Aaron Shaul, bass), Summer 2008
"Vocal & Energetic Techniques for Self-Healing & Finding Your Creative Path," Workshop: Blue Bear School of Music, San Francisco, Workshop for Adults, co-taught w/ Vicki Burns, January 2008
Program and Outreach Coordinator: Jewish Community Library, San Francisco, 2003-2004
Guest Poet: Skyline Community College, San Francisco State University, Galileo High School (San Francisco), Soquel High School (Santa Cruz County)
Workshop Leader/Poet & Performer: Foothill College Writers Conference, Summer 1995 and 1990
Associate Director of The Poetry Center and Lecturer in Creative Writing: San Francisco State University - Two-year term, Fall 1989 - Spring 1991