English singer Lisa Stansfield won a singing competition in 1980 and formed a band called Blue Zone. After her success with the song "People Hold On," she went solo on an album called Affection releasing a hit single called "All Around the World." Other successful song emerged including "The Real Thing" and "Never, Never Gonna Give You Up."
She sang with Queen during The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert in 1992 and the song was featured on George Michael's Five Live charity EP.
Stansfield contributed to many soundtracks, such as those for The Bodyguard, Indecent Proposal and Beverly Hills 90210. Along the way, she moved into the acting world, performing in The Vagina Monologues onstage and making several television appearances. In 2007, she played the role of Ruth Williams in the movie The Edge of Love alongside Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys.
For her eighth studio album, Deeper, she writes on all of the songs, except for a cover of The Family Stand's "Ghetto Heaven." She discussed the new music while in the middle of her European tour on the phone.
Windy City Times: Where in the world are you, Lisa?
Lisa Stansfield: I'm in Amsterdam.
WCT: That's the big party city.
LS: Well, it's not for me tonight. I am doing a show here. For me there's no partyingonly on stage. We have three more weeks in Europe, then we can have a party!
WCT: Can you come to Chicago after that?
LS: I would love to. We are trying to get to America by the end of the year if we can. Fortunately, it's looking like it will happen and that's a good thing. I love America and Chicago, the Windy City! [Laughs]
WCT: You began your career with a singing competition called Search for a Star. What do you think of American Idol?
LS: Those shows are going on all over the world. I have been asked to do those showsnot in America, but in the UK. My biggest argument is nobody put my integrity first, so why should I pick somebody else?
I feel they strip the beautiful things out of someone just to make them glamorous. I don't like that. I think people should be individuals if they want a decent career. They shouldn't be told what to do.
WCT: Do you have a favorite memory of George Michael?
LS: I do, but I can't tell you! [Laughs] No, I always remember him being a real gentlemanGentleman George!
He was a very funny person, but could be quiet around people. I think he got misconstrued because of that. People around him were very protective of him, so he came off as being standoffish, but he was such a lovely man.
WCT: When did you notice a big gay following to your work and how has that developed over the years?
LS: When we started touring. I would get such a response from the audience. It is still very similar now. There are people with so many different sexualities, colors, and religions. They are all in the same room together, cheering for the same cause, though they may not ever talk to each other in real life, and it's beautiful, because it brings them all together.
WCT: You definitely helped out the community with the AIDS charity compilation Red, Hot + Blue.
LS: Aw, that was lovely.
WCT: How did you get deeper on your eighth album, Deeper?
LS: I think I have gotten a lot deeperperhaps from the fact that I been on this planet for so long. I have had a lot to think about!
You take stock and look at what you've done. I think now, "What have I got to lose?" I've had an amazing career so far. If this is the last thing I ever do I want it to be fucking great. I absolutely love this album. There is a funny feeling and an excitement surrounding this album that there wasn't in the previous albums. It has been a lovely surprise.
WCT: I like the track "Desire." What is the story behind that?
LS: It is a very high-energy track. I think a woman can sing it to a man, and a man can sing it to a man. I think a gay guy can say it to another guy and say, "If you desire it I will treat you like a king." That is how I feel about my husband. It has a nice sound and sentiment.
WCT: What is the concept about this album covers that is similar over the years?
LS: We just took pictures. We were in the studio and had a little green screen room. It is where we did the video for "Billionaire."
We had that green room, a subject and a camera so that is what we came up with. All of the album covers have been like that. We try to simplify everything we do. I think the simpler the better, then the message gets across.
WCT: What was the reason behind the cover of "Ghetto Heaven?"
LS: I have loved that song since my first album. When I did my first tour as me, not as the band, my first gig was Liverpool. We haven't played Liverpool since then until this year. It has been over 20 years.
"Ghetto Heaven" was the first song I heard when I walked on that the DJ was playing. It has stayed with me ever since so I knew I had to do it. I had to sing it in Liverpool, and I did! Everyone enjoyed it.
WCT: How do you take care of your voice? I know you gave up smoking.
LS: Honestly, I think to be a singer and hit those top notes you have to give up cigarettes I'm afraid. I was a hardcore smoker. I smoked boxes of cigarettes a day. When you stop then you have to think about things. What was I thinking? I spent half of my life kidding myself and pretending to enjoy it. I was really just addicted to it. When you think it about it, it's just vile!
WCT: Do you want to do more acting?
LS: I love acting. It's exciting to me to meet lots of actors. Musicians are always wanting to see what the other one is doing. I like that I can do both so I see each side of it in a different way, It's lovely to switch from one to the other and put a different hat on some days.
WCT: How was Keira Knightley on the set? I heard she's a diva.
LS: She was quiet and sweet. She was very young when I did that film. I am sure she is more outspoken now. She seemed shy, but maybe she didn't like me. She didn't talk to me very much! [Laughs]
WCT: Has one thing surprised you in this lengthy career?
LS: Apart from coming to America and everybody thinking I was going to be a huge, Black woman? I walked in the studio and everyone's eyes popped out!
I was a little skinny white girl from Manchester. I was going to all of these soul R&B sessions. I would walk in and a man would would ask where Lisa was and I would say, "I'm Lisa." Then they would start whispering. That was quite freaky, but I got used to it.
The other big surprise was there was a show in England called Top of the Pops. When you are little that is the dream if you are a singer is to sing on the Top of the Pops. When you get there it's tiny. On the tele it looks like a huge studio with thousands of people. It is about the size of a small restaurant with 10 kids in the front . The camera make it look like it goes on forever. So that was a bit of a let down.
WCT: Well, I hope you can come play live at our Pride Fest or something like it.
LS: We might be getting to your part of the world in September, but I am not sure yet. I think it is going to happen and quite soon, doll. Fingers crossedI can't wait, actually.
I get messages from people asking me to come to places like Detroit and Chicago. I am always apologizing. Maybe I won't have to apologize this year. Give Chicago a kiss from me!