“I really feel like I’ve turned a corner and that I feel more whole than I’ve ever felt and ever remembered feeling in my conscious walk on this earth.
And it’s really good to be here!”
Her third album, MY WORLD is now out in the world: it’s a true labor of love, a recording brimming with original compositions (with the exception of two covers of songs associated with her legendary and iconic mother, Nina) that reflect the sometimes challenging, rewarding and ultimately life-affirming journey of this multi-talented award-winning singer, songwriter, performer and actress.
The 2016 release of MY WORLD caps a year filled with activity for Lisa, who garnered an Oscar nomination as co-executive producer of the acclaimed documentary about her mother, “What Happened Miss Simone?’ Consistently in demand for live performances the world over, Lisa began her solo recording career in earnest with the 2008 release of Simone On Simone, a big band tribute to her mother that focused on material from Nina’s 1966 set, ‘High Priestess Of Soul.’ In 2014, came her well-received second album, All Is Well – which contained original compositions such as “Finally Free” and “The Child In Me” as well as an outstanding version of the classic, “Autumn Leaves.”
Now comes MY WORLD which finds Lisa working with co-producer and co-writer, guitarist Herve Samb and crafting a superb musical project that depicts her own experiences, with highly personal songs that truly provide listeners with an insight into who she is.
The upbeat opening cut, “Let It All Go” provides the perfect jumping off point: “That song was inspired by my relationship to saying goodbye. In my meditations probably since 2014, I’ve realized that one of my root childhood issues, heart issues, has been that of saying goodbye to my loved ones. It wasn’t until I continued to reflect upon it that I recognized the pattern that I go through emotionally; the song came over the series of a couple days because I was living it, I was in it. The vision of me determined to hold on to control already knows I’ve got to let it all go…”
A member of the original touring company of “Jesus Christ Superstar” (after stints singing background vocals for international artists such as Spain’s Raphael) before joining the original cast of the award-winning Broadway musical “Rent”, originating the role of Nala in “The Lion King”, and as the award winning lead actress in “Aida,” Lisa pays personal homage to her mother (the world-renowned performer, recording artist and civil rights pioneer whose work influenced countless others over past five decades) through three songs in particular, the original “Tragique Beauty,” a plaintive cover of Nina’s 1962 composition, “If Only You Knew” and a new recording of “Work Song,” one of the highpoints of Lisa’s dynamic and energetic live performances.
A standout track on an album that is both emotionally satisfying and musically diverse, “Tragique Beauty” started out as a poem entitled “She Came…” which Lisa wrote on the eve of her mother’s passing, April 21st, 2003: “The experience itself happened on the night of the 20th and I wrote in my journal, ‘she came as a great wind that with gusts sent leaves flying.’ Everything in that song is exactly what happened. When Herve and I started writing together – right next to my mom’s piano – he played the guitar riff that became “Tragique Beauty”. When he and I write together, it is magical. He plays; I sing. For the most part, that’s just how it happens – it’s a musical relationship that I’ve never really had with anyone else..”
Hauntingly beautiful, “I Pray” was written by and features Lisa’s teenage daughter ReAnna: “I wrote the second verse, but she originally inspired the words, and the melody,” says Lisa, who lives in the South of France, in the house that belonged to her famed mother before she passed away in 2003, where pre-production for the album was done. “ReAnna inspired the concept and I really followed that. The second half of it, I came up with Herve who suggested doing one of the chants I do when I meditate. The song came in layers and steps. The next, last, and final piece that I look forward to is the day that ReAnna and I perform it together on stage.”
Creating MY WORLD took place over a period of months in 2015, with Lisa recording with Samb and her other touring band musicians, drummer Sonny Troupé and bassist Reggie Washington: the genesis for the highly infectious and memorable title track began several years earlier: “It was inspired by a letter that my husband wrote when we came here to Marseilles in 2009…I started imagining, ‘what would my world be like if I imagined a perfect world?’ Then the lyrics to this song came in a flood. The melody came, and by the time I got to ‘we have to nurture Mother Earth.’ I herded my sick daughter and dog to the studio. Some friends happened to be in town so I had the luxury of being able to actually go to the studio and lay it down. I felt the power of like hearts and like minds humming on this vibrational level and just so much goodness and peace and light coming from that…”
Other highly personal songs include the so-funky, horn-driven “Unconditionally,” the reflective “Expectations,” the gentle interlude “I’ve Learned,” the moving “Ode To Joe” (written for Lisa’s son, Jorel), the rhythmic, rock-flavoured “Hold On” and “This Place,” a song of hope and optimism about “this house, this place where my mother spent her last years and my relationship to it, from heartbreak to resurrection. It was originally inspired actually, initially, by mom. I watched [the video of] her live at Ronnie Scott’s in August 2016 for the first time in my life and my jaw was on the floor. I turned off everything, looked at my wrist and said, ‘wait for it. Wait for it. Five, four, and the song came. The first time I ever came to this place (this house) was for my mother’s funeral. It always represented death and pain. The song is about how this place has gone from that to it being my peace. And that I will shine my light for the world to see from this place. There’s no more pain. I’m where I belong. I’m home!”
Lisa (who was featured on the 2010 soundtrack for Tyler Perry’s “For Colored Girls”) is no stranger to the road, having spent a couple of years with the acid jazz band Liquid Soul in the late ‘90s, earning a Grammy nomination in the process for the 2000 album “Here’s The Deal” before embarking on international touring, wowing audiences from London and Paris to Tokyo, Guadeloupe, and Sao Paulo to Vienna and Montreux, with her soulful vocals and dynamic stage presence.
Now with MY WORLD representing her growth as an artist of the first order, Lisa is ready for the next phase of her ever-expanding career. She says writing and recording the album’s title cut has been the catalyst for “the freedom to create anything I want because it came from my soul and my heart. The thread was, ‘This is me. I’m limitless.’ Music is limitless and universal. The heart and soul has no limits. I experience the freedom to welcome the world into my world of diversity, of joy, of so many experiences that we all have as human beings on this plane.” She sums up her latest musical triumph simply: “Mission accomplished. It’s just the beginning!”
Lisa Simone (Kelly) better known as Simone, and Lisa Simone on Broadway and in entertainment circles, is a USAF veteran, singer, composer, Grammy award nominee, award winning actress, and only child of Dr. Nina Simone.
Her career in the entertainment industry began over 20 years ago in Frankfurt Germany, while serving her country in the USAF.
Lisa not only originated the Disney roles of both “Aida” (Aida), and “Nala” (Lion King), she won the “National Broadway Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Musical” in the lead role of “Aida” while heading up its First National Tour, and continued in the role at NY’s Palace Theatre to much critical acclaim (Variety/Billboard), until the death of her mother in April 2003.
A member of The Original Broadway cast of Rent, Lisa took out its First National Tour in the role of “Mimi Marquez”, garnering nominations for both the “Helen Hayes” and “Jefferson” Awards.
She was nominated for a Grammy Award, as a member of Liquid Soul, for their album “Here’s the Deal”, and has continued to blaze a trail from New York’s Carnegie Hall and Australia’s Sydney Opera House alongside Dianne Reeves, Angelique Kidjo, Odetta, and Tracy Chapman, to headlining at New York’s Lincoln Center and Town Hall, to worldwide jazz festivals in Telluride, Montreaux, North Sea, Marciac, and The Olympia in Paris, filling hearts and souls with joy, through song.
Lisa Simone was a featured performer on the soundtrack from Tyler Perry’s movie For Colored Girls, and topped the jazz charts with her 2008 Big Band tribute album to her mother, entitled “Simone on Simone”.
As Lisa Simone Kelly, Lisa co-executive produced and is featured in the 2016 Oscar nominated, multi-award winning Netflix documentary on the life of her mother, Dr Nina Simone, entitled, “What Happened Miss Simone”.
Lisa’s last 2014-15 tour supported her album “All is Well”, which hit number 4 on FNAC’s jazz charts, and she is currently promoting her latest album, My World, to world wide critical acclaim.
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