In order to make her last album, 2012’s Bridges, come to life, Lisa Forkish — a South Eugene High alumna, current music educator at the Oakland School for the Arts and jazz vocalist — had to jump into the deep end and pray for the best.
“That project was a career-changer for me,” says Forkish, who is also a pianist. Before Bridges, she says, “I was sort of genre-less. I’m not a jazz pianist, but a lot of my music has aspects of jazz in it, and so for people who like jazz, it would resonate with them, but I couldn’t play the jazz parts because I wasn’t a jazz instrumentalist.” Forkish emerged from the genre fog when she decided to drop the piano and become the frontwoman for a jazz act.
With a clearer direction than she had ever had before, Forkish focused on making a jazz album instead of straddling multiple creative fences. The result is an album that features, among other things, a funky rendition of “For What It’s Worth,” a jazzed up version of “I Could Have Danced All Night” and her original tune “Solidarity,” which is a call to end sexual violence, all taking the lead from a voice reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald.
“I’ve been pegged as an artist who writes songs for social change,” Forkish says. “I don’t use that to describe my music per se,” she says, but “it’s absolutely the truth. People who have watched my career know that for every relationship song I write, there’s an ‘issue song’ too.”
The fact is, regardless of genre, Forkish is a pro.
Lisa Forkish sings her heart out 7 pm Friday, Nov. 29, at The Granary Pizza Co.; free.