We had the good fortune of connecting with Lisa Mann and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Lisa, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I can think of many instances where risk taking played a role in my career, in fact risk seems to be at the heart of things. As a professional musician for most of my life, every time I take up a different style of music or new method of performance or recording, I am taking a risk.

I was a nightclub rock & Top 40 musician early in my career, then came to the Portland OR blues scene and started learning blues music in order to work. I played with some heavy-hitters, and was not a very good blues bassist. I listened to a lot of blues music, and learned on the gigs how to play blues with others, all as I went along. I didn’t give up, even though I knew there was some eye-rolling going on behind the scenes. My willingness to listen to other musicians and hone my chops led to me receiving two Blues Music Awards for bass guitar.

I was not a songwriter until the mid-2000’s, when I began to front my own band and make albums. Writing and recording my own songs and presenting them to the public felt very exposing. We songwriters care very much if others enjoy our songs. It’s like putting a piece of your inner self on display. I think that’s the main risk involved in music, being vulnerable before the judging eyes of others. But songwriting, when it’s done well, is deeply personal, otherwise the listener will be unable to connect with the music at the level of the heart. An unwillingness to risk exposure before others is art-killing.

In recent years, while I continue as a well-known blues performer, I have released a full-length heavy metal album (under the pseudonym White Crone) and joined an existing metal band as their vocalist (Splintered Throne). While I am very comfortable in metal and hard rock styles, I know that much of my blues audience may not be comfortable with these ventures. I waffled at the idea of doing these projects because I was afraid of losing what I already had. I think that is another aspect of risk- at first you are trying to build something up, later you are trying to keep what you built.

But again, I go back to the willingness to expose your inner self to others. Art cannot flourish without it.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The music business is two words. In many cases, people can focus on one or the other. In my case I have to focus on both, and wear many hats in the process.

I am a performing artist, a recording artist, a record producer, a songwriter, a band manager, a booking agent, and more. Over time, how to do those many jobs has been in flux, and I have had to learn as I go along. The biggest challenges seem to be related to the changing nature of the music business itself. It’s like a moving target, and you always have something to learn, especially in the digital age.

One aspect of the business of which I am most proud is being a recording artist. When I made my first album, I had no idea what I was doing. I was blessed to be surrounded by professionals who gave me advice, but I also just plugged away at what information could be found on the internet at the time. I have learned a million small lessons along the way (like have someone proof read your album notes!) and I am sure there are many more to learn. Of course, failure is the key to learning.

Now, when I am making a record, I am comfortable with the process of bringing the music to life. I feel comfortable with the artistic decisions that go into a song or an arrangement, and know how to execute it. In my case, I am not a recording engineer, so I rely on my relationship with one, and know how to work with him to create the artistic expression of what once only existed in my own mind. The challenge in achieving an artistic goal, and bringing it to the public’s attention, is in learning enough about the technical and business aspects in order to allow that art to shine through unobstructed.

I guess I would want the world to know that when they listen to a Lisa Mann album, or any of my other projects, that they are experiencing authenticity. When I write and record a song, I am not trying to push your buttons or sell you something. I am simply offering what is in my own heart and mind, and hope that you accept the gift of music.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When I am in Phoenix and want to have a rockin’ good time, I will go to blues harp man Bob Corritore’s nightclub, The Rhythm Room. Bob’s juke joint hosts blues bands almost night of the week, and sometimes he’ll sit in with them too.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shoutout to Greg “Slim Lively” Johnson, who served as president of the Cascade Blues Association for many years. The man has been an encyclopedia of blues of every variety, and a tireless promoter of the music. He understands the need to support traditional blues, however has a “big tent” view and is accepting of all styles, even that of a wacky six-string bassist. Sadly, he has been stricken with both cancer and a stroke, and has been unable to resume his duties as president of the CBA. I want to thank him for his support and friendship, and wish him and his family well.

Website: www.lisamannmusic.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lisamannmusic/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisamannmusic

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisamannmusic

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/lisamann

Image Credits
Marilyn Stringer, Brian Morrill, Kathy Rankin, Rick Lewis, Kathy Rose, Lisa Mann

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.