Cutting through boundaries is one way to describe singer/songwriter Lisa Mills. The Mississippi native-Alabama resident has been steadily building a devoted, even fanatic following for her taking bits of southern soul, gospel, blues, a little bit of country and some rock and roll and making it her own.
“I was just thinking the other day, in our world of fast food and prefabricated everything, it’s rare to find anything home grown,” she says. “There are so many shortcuts, but in all honesty, to pick the best fruit you have to pick ‘em mature. Same thing for music and so much of the music these days is driven by the business itself. It doesn’t seem to be happening as much in our communities naturally as it has historically, as a fabric of our society and real experiences.”
2012 was definitely her breakout year with the release of Tempered In Fire, which received critical acclaim both in the United States and Europe, garnering many accolades:
- Top 25 for Living Blues
- “Why Do I Still Love You” was featured in a regional ad for the Beau Rivage Casino, as well as being named top 10 most intriguing tracks from USA Today
- Tempered In Fire was listed at number 8 in Deep Roots Elite Half 100 Albums of the Year
- Top 10 blues CD of 2011 from KPUL’s John Kessler
- “My Happy Song” was included in the cover mount CD of Classic Rock and Blues Magazine (UK) 2013
Prior to the release of Tempered In Fire, Lisa had an opportunity to meet with bass player Ian Jennings in London and sing on his album Roll The Dice with his band, The Big Town Playboys. Lisa was in legendary company on the album, which featured the likes of Jeff Beck, Robert Plant, Jools Holland and Andy Fairweather Low. “It was definitely a challenge,” Lisa recalls, “as the songs were laid down for someone else to sing.” Things worked out so well that they soon began collaborating on Lisa’s first recording, I’m Changing and Jennings also served as producer for Tempered In Fire. They thrive on their differences in temperament and musical roots.
Despite these differences, the pairing has worked incredibly well and they’ve done many gigs throughout the UK. “There’s such a magic about our performances. People are always amazed it’s just myself on guitar and Ian on bass. There was this one festival gig where we were in one tent and another, known group were down the way. We started playing and at first people kept walking past. Finally we said let’s have some fun and within minutes, our area was completely packed and we were asked to return the following year.”
That’s part of the magic of Lisa’s live. People keep expecting there to be a backing band on stage but there isn’t. She’s got incredible stage presence – a real connectiveness to the audience and the music she’s playing, whether her own songs or those she finds near and dear to her.
2013-2014 is proving to be an exciting time for Lisa. Her first CD I’m Changing, featuring mostly original compositions, is being redone with the help of legendary producer Trina Shoemaker. “I came across the original tracks one day and somehow the vision I had for them got lost in the recording. I was also having serious throat issues, and by extension, my voice. I thought before I can move on to my next project, I need to finish this one the right way.”
Lisa will continue to take the world by storm with a UK/European tour this summer; several dates have already been booked. “I was thinking to myself, here I am, doing what I do, and I’m not just showing up occasionally to do a big festival. I’m out here working. Every opportunity is one to work on my craft and learn from each performance. The development aspect is what’s missing. It’s not easily won. It’s work – really hard work but I’m doing it.”