Although she had been recording since she was 16, the untimely passing of her sister triggered feelings that led to a creative outpouring resulting in her first album of original songs. Altogether, Lisa has released seven previous albums of her own music. Her latest album What We Need is Here, a project of the heart, has Lisa writing music for 10 of her favorite classic poems. Lisa explained her process this way, “I started with how the poem made me feel. It was like creating a painting that ‘looked’ how the poem felt. I wanted to set a mood, creating a tonal palette for the words. I was so fortunate to be able to hand my songs to Jamshied Sharifi for the orchestral arrangements and production. He is not only a brilliant musician, but he also felt the same obligation that I did to honor the poets and their muses.”
In 2017, Lisa joined with Suzanne Jackson, a close friend from their time performing at the Washington National Opera. They formed the duo, Shunia, and recorded the album, Ascend, blending their opera careers with their love for yoga and chant. Deciding to record a follow-up, Lisa brought in Grammy-nominated producer and Tony-award-winning composer Jamshied Sharifi to help create their self-titled album of transcendent music and melodic harmonies, Shunia. The album received high praise from reviewers and was the Silver Winner in the World Fusion Music category at the 2021 COVR Visionary Awards.
Lisa’s theatrical and classical training led her to performances at The Kennedy Center, The Arena Stage, The Salzburg Music Festival, and Wolf Trap Opera. For twenty years, Lisa was a resident member of the Washington National Opera sharing the stage with nationally renowned performers such as Placido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, and Renée Fleming. Lisa also appeared as a soloist for many special events including at the White House, and for Kings, Presidents and Heads of State around the world. Asked about her favorite performances, Lisa said, “I have had many great singing experiences. What comes first to mind is singing Pagliacci with Placido Domingo. It was incredible to be on the stage with him. I did several operas with him, and they were all amazing. Singing the works of Puccini and Verdi (including the Requiem) are probably my favorites. Singing Turandot’s “Moon Chorus” made me feel like I was going to go straight to heaven every time we performed the opera. But honestly, I had so many great experiences as a singer, from the smallest venue like Grace Church to the Kennedy Center stage. I was fortunate to be surrounded by greatness for many years.”
Lisa has taught for 25 years as a private voice instructor. She taught for 10 years at the prestigious Shenandoah Conservatory of Music and then in 2008 returned to her home state of Oklahoma to take a voice faculty position at Oklahoma City University’s Wanda Bass School of Music. In 2013, and again in 2018 she was invited to perform and teach at the Salzburg Music Festival in Austria. Her latest international teaching event is in May 2023. Lisa will be giving masterclasses on acting for opera singers at the Accademia dell’Arte in Arezzo, Italy. Lisa shares this about teaching, “Vocal technique is something I love teaching because it gives the coordination and physical stamina to the voice that you need if you’re going to sing an opera role several times a week or sing 8 shows a week on Broadway. It frees the body so that you can really go into the role as an actor. When you have trained the voice, it will work the way you need it to…you can count on it. That is what great technique can do for you.”
Born and raised in Oklahoma, Lisa began her musical training at the tender age of 5 when she began private piano instruction from Dr. Clarence Burg at Oklahoma City University. In the fourth grade, she began studying acting at the Mummers Theater where she performed and starred in many plays. Her first professional role was in the Lyric Theatre’s Summer Stock production of “Where’s Charley?” at the age of sixteen. Lisa went on to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree of Music in voice and piano performance from Oklahoma City University where she studied voice with Florence Birdwell (pictured with Lisa), who trained many stars including Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O’Hara. She then earned her Master’s Degree in Opera and Vocal Performance from the University of Maryland’s prestigious Opera Studio.