Basking In The Glow of Greatness

Written by on April 24, 2016

It would be very interesting to see a graphic representation of how worker productivity slipped worldwide during the evening of Thursday, April 21, 2016. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can verify that there were tears shed and lots of phone calls, texts, tweets and emails happening around the WURD office after news broke that Prince was found dead in his home. Celebrities come and go often, but superstardom is far more rarified air. And Prince was most certainly a superstar. The reality hits us harder, more profoundly, when someone of indescribable talent is no longer with us. Unexpectedly, under seemingly tragic circumstance. And especially when this same superstar was unapologetically celebratory of his people, his right to exist on his own terms and outrageously outspoken about God, sexuality and creativity. We grieve his loss for so many soul-crunching, legitimate reasons.

So, when I was given an opportunity to witness Lisa Fischer sing live on stage this same weekend, there was no way I could say no. I was supposed to be on stage myself, lending my talents to a fundraiser for Art Sanctuary. I will write them a check this week and encourage my friends to do the same. But I could not pass up a chance to hear one of the most extraordinary vocal talents of our era do her thing, live in concert. And I am thrilled to testify that she did not disappoint, in performance or in conversation after the show.

I won’t attempt to outline the content of Lisa’s concert for those who weren’t there. I’m honestly not certain I could do so with any textual competency. Words seem inadequate to illustrate the power, dexterity or sheer beauty of Lisa Fischer’s instrument. If I had a Dream Team of vocalists, Lisa Fischer would be part of my starting lineup, along with Lalah Hathaway, Wanya Morris and a few other top-notch selections. But they each have their own unique qualities and abilities that make them so gifted and noteworthy. Lisa Fischer is able to climb down inside a lyric and a note in a way that no one else I’ve heard can accomplish. If a song could turn into color, Lisa Fischer’s vocals would explode into rainbow sprinkles and unicorn glitter. But superstar she ain’t.

For the benefit of those who have not yet seen the Oscar Award-winning documentary 20 Feet From Stardom, I’ll just say that Lisa Fischer has been belting out miracles for a mighty long time, but she is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the famous folks she’s toured and sung backing vocals for: Tina Turner, Luther Vandross, Patti LaBelle, The Rolling Stones, Sting. However (and I shall use bold lettering for emphasis), this is NO statement about her voice. Just as Prince didn’t suffer fools lightly, but he also didn’t stay in a reporter’s face demanding similar (or more) star worship than Michael Jackson, Lisa Fischer hasn’t and isn’t planning to lose too much sleep trying to model her career after Beyoncé’s. She understands that her gift is set for a different trajectory.

We certainly mourn and miss those superstars who leave us far too soon. But let this blog remind each of us that we can’t afford to allow other ethereal lights to go unnoticed. The sun and the moon are wonders, but they are surrounded by countless other lone stars and constellations that are no less worthy of our acknowledgement and appreciation.

I see you, Miss Lisa, and I thank you.

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