With three studio albums and regular live performances under her belt, Lisa Redford is widely-recognised as a singer-songwriter with a unique country, folk and Americana style. 

Championed by legendary DJ Bob Harris as “one of our finest singer/songwriters,” she has toured with leading artists, appeared at festivals and performed on coveted Radio 2 live sessions. 

More recently, the East Anglian-based performer has been a familiar figure, leading community singing sessions in Norwich, as well as sharing her skills as a tutor. 

And in another twist to her career as an independent artist, she has secured a number of acting roles, notably in the current six-part TV docudrama This England. 

Yet the post-pandemic period has proved a watershed, a time to reflect on her career, and recognising the value of music-making for others in terms of wellbeing. 

Writing and performing remain important elements for her, with several appearances across the region earlier this summer, and plans to continue to record and tour in the future. 

It is mid-week, mid-morning, as we meet beneath the chandeliers and echoing halls of the sumptuous Assembly House in the heart of Norwich for morning coffee. Upbeat and enthusiastic, Norwich-born Lisa talks about a constantly diversifying career. 

“I see myself first and foremost as a singer-songwriter, that is my driving passion,” she tells me. “But it is a tough environment out there for independent artists.” 

That has seen her expand her role as a music tutor, leading popular courses at Wensum Lodge and community singing sessions in the heart of Norwich, as well as developing her acting roles. 

Lisa Redford has been a regular feature of the local music scene for more than two decades. 

Educated at CNS (City of Norwich School), she headed off to Canterbury to study English Literature at the University of Kent. 

But she remarks: “It was only after I left university that I started playing music. I taught myself guitar, played in various duos and also as a solo performer at venues such as the Norwich Arts Centre, OPEN, and UEA.” 

That career took her away from the city to destinations such as Manchester and New York in 2010, where she stayed for three years on an artist visa to develop her music and record - but Norwich always seems to draw her back. 

Her first album Slipstream (2003) featured acoustic guitar-based songs. 

“I was very much inspired by classic singer songwriters,” she adds, pointing to Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Carole King James Taylor, Cat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel. 

With its Americana/country feel, that first album came to the attention of “Whispering” Bob Harris, who has championed country music in recent years. 

“Getting airplay from Bob Harris on Radio 2 was really exciting for my self-released album,” says Lisa. 

That support from Harris continued, with him playing tracks from her second album, Lost Again (2005), as Lisa built on her success within the active Norwich music scene, supported American country artists, and performed across the UK and in Europe, including her own headlining tour of the Czech Republic. 

She went on to do live sessions on Radio 2 in London and also for Bob Harris’ Under the Apple Tree sessions from his Oxfordshire home, performing her songs, Music & The Mountains and I Just Can’t Forget. Her song Dragonfly was also played on his Radio 2 ‘Best of British’ special’. 

Her music career took her to New York City after signing a US publishing deal, where she recorded with many leading US musicians, leading to her third album Clouds with Silver, and a release she is particularly proud of. 

“As you grow as an artist and person you have more experiences to draw on,” she said. “I felt even more of that one came from the heart. 

“My writing is very much from the heart. I draw from a lot of personal experiences, whether relationships or something someone else is going through that has resonated with me, but the majority is what I have been going through, and telling my story.” 

From working on her vocal and guitar parts, she brought together a group of American musicians with a producer, and was delighted with the result. 

“That time in New York in terms of the personal experience of living in another country and experiencing all its culture and energy and growing as a person, was a real highlight.” 

As well as her solo acoustic work, some of her albums and EPs have other instrumentation and band tracks too. 

Her last EP, Edge of Love from 2019, was recorded locally with Jose McGill from The Vagaband and attracted wide airplay. With five tracks, it is another release she is really proud of, but also underlines the challenges faced by independent artists. 

“It is more difficult when you are on your own without a label, and it is quite an investment to put out a recording,” explains Lisa, “Also, the nature of the way people listen to music is changing, there is a lot of streaming.” 

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During lockdown she released further songs and wrote songs for a dog rescue charity and Future Radio, where she previously hosted a programme, and also performed a Zoom gig. 

While less prolific over the last couple of years she said: “When I next bring something out, I really want to feel that I have got something to say.”  

Admirers of her music have, however, had the chance to see her over the summer at local festivals, such as Deepdale and Reepham, as well as the Brisley Live event at the Brisley Bell. 

She has previously appeared at Latitude and the C2C Country to Country Festival two years running but the emphasis has more recently moved into teaching and staging community music events. 

“I am really invested in teaching and sharing my passion for music, with beginner guitar and ukulele courses and community singing,” she adds. 

She notably led community singing sessions with songs from the musicals outside The Forum on October 6 in an event for Norfolk County Music Library Sets. 

“That joy of singing is what first drew me to music,” adds Lisa, who is also running an eight-week adult learning community Singing for Wellbeing course throughout the Autumn at Wensum Lodge in Norwich, as a course facilitator for Norfolk County Council. Her classes also include ukulele, guitar, singing and song writing. 

“It’s a free course,” she continues. “It is singing for wellbeing, which is a passion of mine after all we have been through in these challenging times, and there’s a nice social aspect to it to. 

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“A lot of people came up to me after community singing in March saying it was a nice part of their week to come out and sing for an hour after feeling so isolated.” 

While the emphasis is on community singing and teaching, Lisa aims to continue her solo performances and record new material in the future. 

“You never know when inspiration strikes and it is very exciting when it happens. I think doing these projects and also with giving song writing guidance to others, will inspire me as well.” 

Yet another dimension to Lisa’s creative portfolio is her acting, including a speaking role in This England, which depicts the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and the early part of Boris Johnson’s time in Number 10. 

Filmed last year at West Raynham and Wolterton Hall, she played a journalist speaking at a Zoom press conference. 

“We were questioning an MP over the whereabouts of Dominic Cummings, so it is very much concerned with our recent history. I really enjoyed that and have a couple of lines in episode 6. 

“Filming is unpredictable, there is a lot of waiting around but you meet so many other interesting creative people who, like me, are doing a variety of things in a portfolio career.” 

She traces her acting interest to her time in New York where she was an extra in several productions. 

After a crowd scene role in the 2019 film Yesterday, a romantic Danny Boyle comedy based around the songs of The Beatles, she began looking for other roles. 

“There is a breadth of film happening in this area,” she says. “There are a number of true crime dramas with reconstruction scenes in Norfolk, and once you have been in for one or two in the background, you may always be called upon to do a little bit more.” 

She has appeared in yet-to-be screened productions about American Presidents and as a teacher involved in a 1990s scandal, both which were filmed in Norfolk for US channels. 

Other roles include an appearance in Detectorists, about friends who share a passion for metal detecting, where she met Mackenzie Crook, and also playing a Roman woman in a film shot in Ipswich about Boudicca. 

“I love the variety and playing a character and that is something I would love to do more of,” adds Lisa. “It’s also exciting to witness the professionals at work on their craft.” 

Both acting and her guitar playing are self-taught skills, but she honed her vocals with an Access to Music course. Eastern Daily Press:

“I had a great teacher, which shows you how inspiring teachers can be,” she says. “She got me to sing a variety of styles, such as more challenging songs from Joni Mitchell, or jazz. 

“It was about trying something new and learning more about my voice and that led me to want to help people with that. 

“I find that really rewarding and I’m also very keen to encourage people to have their own voices; I like the quirks in people’s voices, a distinctive timbre or tone.” 

Being a singer, at home during lockdown, she adapted with Zoom lessons and song writing and even did lockdown gigs. 

“Looking back,” she continues, “it was a very uncertain time, but also creative for me too.” 

She reflects on the Bob Harris sessions as a career highlight. 

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“It was when Bob had a Saturday night show and after having a chat with him playing three songs live solo, was a very thrilling experience. 

“Doing my own headline tour a few years ago, which culminated playing at Norwich Arts Centre, was also a highlight,” she adds. “That pressure of having you own headline showing is really exciting. I love performing; particularly in theatres and arts centres. 

“In the past, I have supported bigger artists such as Tom McRae, Kathryn Williams, Eliza Carthy, and Sarah Darling. 

“Going back on tour with appreciative audiences is what I’d be looking to do, but also marrying that with continuing my creative career bringing really exciting courses to people that may have never tried music before.” 

Lisa lives in Norwich with her pet Jack Russell, Abbie. 

“She brings a lot of joy to me. It can be hard being an artist, when you do not have that stability, but she gets me out, walking, engaging with people and she is just so full of fun,” adds Lisa, who also plays tennis, loves travel and walking, and going to gigs, theatre and films. 

“I love sharing skills and experiences and creating courses. I think people are really appreciative of being able to learn new skills and enjoy the power of music. 

“Even though times are tough, people will still engage with music courses and get involved with events. It is really empowering, especially when they have been isolated for a while. 

“But I feel it is also important to support independent artists in a landscape that has changed. It is more challenging and less secure, but it keeps life interesting,” adds Lisa with a smile.