Celebrated musician Lisa Fischer has had quite a colorful career singing background and touring with megastars such as Chaka Khan, the Rolling Stones, Tina Turner and Cher. The songstress was even featured in the 2013 Oscar-winning documentary film “20 Feet from Stardom.” That same year, Fischer joined the New York-based rock and jazz fusion band Grand Baton and began touring with them regularly, but this time as lead singer. This Friday (Nov. 1), Fischer is bringing her incredible vocals to Verizon Hall and will be joined by the mesmerizing Philadelphia Youth Orchestra for a unique concert experience featuring songs by Luther Vandross, Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones and Sting. Fischer sat down with Metro to give the scoop on what to expect at the show this weekend.
Lisa Fischer and her band Grand Baton will be joined on stage by The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra
Throughout your colorful career, has anything stuck out to you over the years?
Every artist to me has their own special shine and their own special way of communicating, and their own passion. Having had time to get a little bit of music theory and singing in choirs and just being around people who are passionate about making music was such a great foundation for me. When I would walk into different situations with different groups it’d be all about supporting the artist and their purpose — looking back that has been what has prepared me the most for now.
When did you first start with your band, Grand Baton?
I started with them in 2013, and we toured mostly on versus off. It’s been a really great experience for me because I was just so scared to death. I really thought, “What the heck am I going to do?” I’m so used to singing background. I would sing lead vocals in recording sessions, but it’s different to sustain a full consciousness of an hour or two hours of music. So during that whole time touring with Grand Baton it was really a great time for me to really get to know myself — or forget myself really. It gave me clarity on what I truly want to share with the audience. The healing power of music is really important to me, and I also found if it’s not something that I feel passionate about then I can’t do it.
You’re collaborating with the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra for the concert this weekend, what is it like for you performing with a full orchestra?
It’s pretty special. To me, each instrument has a life and a breath, and behind the instruments are the lives of these wonderful people who have decided to devote themselves to this one instrument. The fact that it’s a youth orchestra makes it even more special because they are right in the thrills of developing everything that they love. So all that passion for me comes through with the newness and excitement of reading the music and being one not only with each other as an orchestra, but to have such an open heart to invite and make space for Grand Baton and I. Josephine Lee is also such an amazing conductor — I just love the way she pulls everyone together, it’s like a dance. And the vibrations of the sounds for me is just beyond.
What has gone into preparing for the concert?
It takes so much to pull together something with a group this large, but luckily, they have space where they can be one with each other. We’ve had a bit of time together to rehearse too, which has been really helpful. I’m just looking forward to seeing what it all sounds like on Friday, because it has been sounding just amazing in rehearsals — it’s really unbelievable.
How did you choose the songs you’re going to perform?
The charts have to be made, arranged and tied out way in advance. The choice of songs is more to do with my life experience — more about songs that I like to sing background on and then transferring to sing lead on them. So it’s been really great to sort of re-imagine them. JC Maillard, our musical director, has been really instrumental in helping to get the sound and helping with the charts and arrangements with the orchestra. So it’s been really great just molding it for me, and I’m excited because you know, I have a little bit of classical experience but most of my life has really been more doing rock n’ roll and soul, rhythm and blues — so all of those elements really blend together and it’s been really groovy for me to kind of just bathe in it.
Overall what would you tell people to expect at the concert this Friday?
Hopefully, people feel a connection. Not only with what they’re listening to, but also with who they are listening with. For me, the most important thing is that when they hear songs, they build a camaraderie with the people around them. Sharing with each other as an audience to become one is part of the transformation for me.
If you go: Nov. 1, 8 pm, Verizon Hall, 300 S Broad St., $30+, kimmelcenter.org