• 57°

Springsteen backup vocalist sings at Catawba

By Christine Shuster
For The Salisbury Post
It’s a Saturday afternoon in November, and I find myself in the luxurious Cloninger Guest House at Catawba College, listening to a woman sing and play piano.
This isn’t just any woman; and this isn’t just any song. This is Lisa Lowell, playing one of her original songs for me.
Lowell is a professional background singer who has performed with the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, B.B. King, Sheryl Crowe, Stevie Wonder and many others. She came to visit Catawba College recently to speak to students and to perform with The Vernaculars popular music ensemble.
The Vernaculars performed The Beatles’ “Abbey Road” in its entirety, in celebration of the album’s 40-year anniversary. Lowell joined sophomore music business student Dusti Kempf and sophomore musical theatre student Autumn Hamilton in singing “Oh Darlin'” to the overflowing Hedrick Theatre.
Lisa’s journeyman drummer father was a jazz and orchestral player. He joined the Navy so he could be a member of the Naval Band, and after fighting in the South Pacific, he returned to 42nd street in New York City to play in bebop bands with musicians such as Artie Shaw, Ray Anthony and Benny Goodman.
Lowell’s mother was a gifted singer who chose to stay in the Jersey shore, performing in bars with local and national jazz musicians.
Following in her parents’ musical footsteps, Lowell first took classes at the University of Massachusetts, then moved on to the New England Conservatory of Music. Upon moving back to New Jersey, she formed jazz bands and joined an R&B band on the side. While performing in Mikell’s Bar, she met the band Sneaky Cookin’. Founded by the late Howie Wyeth (drummer for Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Review) the band was fronted by four girls doing harmony, which Lisa fell in love with. At their encouragement, she decided to become a background singer herself.
At age 24, she moved to New York, began waitressing on the side and sang in the streets with other aspiring professional background singers. Within four months, she was flown out to Hollywood with the “Bondinis” by Norman Lear, to be on Martin Mull’s “America Tonight” show. She then sang in the original movie “Fame” by director Alan Parker.
One of Lowell’s greatest experiences thus far has been touring with Bruce Springsteen’s Seeger Sessions Band during 2006 in Italy. For a few shows in front of 30,000 people, Lowell sang the lead on a verse and a chorus in “When the Saints Go Marching In,” on Springsteen’s s microphone. It was a new level of attention and respect, and she was able to stay calm and focused, enjoying the experience.
Lowell has recently recorded background vocals with a few local New York artists, performed at a singer-songwriter night in New Jersey with keyboardist Joel Diamond for a Springsteen tribute, performed at Banjo Jim’s in the East Village of New York, and is currently recording her first solo record.
After a lot of searching, Lowell decided to go with producer Lincoln Schleifer for her first solo record. “It’s going stellar!” says Lowell. Schleifer has a home studio, with both standard and vintage equipment, in his basement in the Bronx, N.Y. Guitarist Hugh McCracken, who has been on John Lennon and Paul McCartney albums, will be on Lowell’s record. Bruce Springsteen will also have a guitar track on the project.
The record will be a combination of roots influences in R&B, soul, rock and pop, with a few jazz chords thrown into the mix.
Lowell described the record as “all things I’ve known and loved, adapted to my voice and the mood the lyrics indicate.”
It is good to have a broad musical understanding when entering the music industry as a background singer, Lowell says. One challenge is being able to walk into any musical situation and know enough about the genre. These experiences help you to learn and adapt in other musical situations. To enter the music industry in any area, not just as a background vocalist, Lowell says, it’s best to figure out what you’re best at and just focus on that for a while ó try to make a living out of it. Get involved with the most talented people you can find and “gravitate toward musical kindred spirits.” Be sure to learn from others, she said. Try to understand the business and how it works best for you, and in the end, keep the passion. Just never lose the passion.
Christine Shuster is a senior music business major at Catawba College.

Comments

Comments closed.

Crime

Cooper, N.C. prison officials agree to release 3,500 inmates

Coronavirus

Two more COVID-19 deaths reported in Rowan, six for the week

Crime

Blotter: Man brandishes AR-15, runs over motorcycle at Rockwell-area gas station

Crime

Salisbury man charged with exploitation of minor

Crime

Road rage incident results in assault charges

Local

Dukeville lead testing results trickle in, more participation needed

Education

Faith Academy interviewing staff, preparing site for fall opening

News

Volunteers work around obstacles, alter procedures to offer free tax services to those in need

Education

Education shoutouts

Local

Retired Marine gets recognition for toy collection efforts

Local

March issue of Salisbury the Magazine is now available

Education

Five get Dunbar School Heritage Scholarships

Education

Education briefs: Salisbury Academy fourth-graders think big as inventors

Education

Bakari Sellers keynote speaker at Livingstone College Founder’s Day program

Nation/World

Biden aims to distribute masks to millions in ‘equity’ push

Nation/World

Chief: Capitol Police were warned of violence before riot

Nation/World

GOP rallies solidly against Democrats’ virus relief package

Nation/World

FDA says single-dose shot from Johnson & Johnson prevents severe COVID

High School

Coaches, lawmakers react to governor’s order expanding sporting event capacity

Coronavirus

Three new COVID-19 deaths, positives remain below triple digits

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Crime

Blotter: Two charged after call about package

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School