10 Songs, 55 Minutes


About Lisa Engelken

With her unique voice and singing approach -- which stands rock, pop and jazz songs on their heads -- Lisa Engelken is far from a garden-variety jazz vocalist, and that she insists on traveling to the beat of her own musical drum has kept her work refreshing and often striking. Born in Big Skies, KS, into a large family, Engelken was seemingly always singing as a child, and she later trained in classical voice and theater, but she always kept her own maverick vision of what a song needed to be, and became skilled at arrangement and harmony. Moving to the east coast, she formed the sextet the Zimmermans in Washington, D.C. with Jonathan Spottiswoode, and the group recorded two albums, Cut and The Loneliest Woman in the World, before splitting. Engelken also fronted a D.C.-based jazz quintet called Black Olive, releasing the album Cosmopolitan, and dabbled in theatrical rock with the Alabama band the Sugar La-Las. After a brief stay in New York, she moved to San Francisco, where she worked as a composer and vocal coach for the Bare Bones Theatre Company. She also wrote and recorded an album of original songs, Geographically Challenged, and put a short-lived band together to play the new tunes live, playing bass and handling the lead vocals. Music went on hold for a bit, though, while she finished her M.A., eventually accepting a lecturer position at San Francisco State University. Following a fellowship in Italy, Engelken turned her focus back to music, and recorded the striking and adventurous Caravan at Bay Records in Berkeley. The album was released in 2010. ~ Steve Leggett



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