Lisa’s a one-woman team

EMMA LEE Acclaimed up-and-coming Norfolk singer-songwriter Lisa Redford plays a charity concert on home turf at the Norwich Playhouse on Thursday, April 13. EMMA LEE caught up with her.

EMMA LEE

Her style has been compared to Eva Cassidy, and her influential fans include veteran BBC Radio 2 DJ Bob Harris and Glenn Tilbrook from Squeeze.

But what makes Norfolk singer-songwriter Lisa Redford's success so far even more admirable is the amount of hard graft she's put in.

Apart from a distribution deal to sell her CDs, she's a “one-woman team”.

“I paid for the album all myself. It's self- financed and I paid for a producer, paid the musicians, do my own promotion. Getting playlisted is hard without a plugger or label,” she says, speaking to the EDP from Manchester where she is currently based.

“You build up a fanbase by playing live. And you really need to use the internet.

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“And it's great hearing yourself played on the radio - I've had some play in Europe, and on a Californian radio station as well. I've got some tracks up on myspace.com and I've had some good feedback.”

Lisa, who is in her 20s and a former City of Norwich School pupil, says that Manchester is inspiring.

“My last album, Lost Again, was recorded up here and I made lots of contacts and got a good few musicians together. I'm still doing that - putting a band together,” she says. “I want to work on some new songs. And a lot of gigs are based around here. The Night and Day café is where some singer-songwriters have been discovered - and it's easier to get to Cardiff and Bristol and Liverpool and Nottingham to play gigs. Manchester's got a good musical heritage - a lot of my favourite bands are from here - the Smiths, Joy Division and the Stone Roses. There's a lot of bands here - some doing very different things to what I do.

“But in the winter the weather is miserable,” she laughs.

Lisa grew up surrounded by music.

“I always listened to lots of different music from a young age - I remember listening to Kate Bush, singing along to the early records and finding I could actually get the high notes. And it progressed from there,” she says.

“My mum and dad have very good eclectic taste - Neil Young, Joni Mitchell and Carole King. When I got a guitar I found that I could really express myself,” the former arts administrator adds.

Her other influences include Chrissie Hynde, Shawn Colvin and Tracy Chapman. She began songwriting after singing with a band at some of London's best-known venues.

She formed the acoustic duo Redford and they performed at acoustic venues around the UK, appeared on TV and radio, at the Cambridge Folk Festival and supported respected songwriters Glenn Tilbrook and Mike Silver.

When a third member joined, they went in more of an electronic direction. One of their songs was included on a British independent film, which was released in 2001.

Lisa released her first solo CD, Carolina Rain, which is no longer available, in 2002 and in the same year she provided vocals and music for the ITV1 series Dare to Believe.

In November the following year she released her debut album, Slipstream, which was recorded in Norwich. The record impressed Bob Harris, who played tracks on his Saturday Radio 2 show.

And in June last year she released the follow-up, Lost Again, which was produced by Gabriel Minnikin, a former member of the acclaimed Canadian alt-country band the Guthries.

Bob Harris again championed the record, featuring the track Dragonfly on a show celebrating the best British songwriters and tracks have also been played on European radio.

She's recently played in the Netherlands and is hoping to go to America later this year.

And next week she returns to Norwich Playhouse for a charity gig in aid of the Samaritans, supported by BBC Radio Norfolk.

“Sometimes I get nervous playing live,” she says. “If it's more intimate then it's more daunting - all eyes are focused on you. It can be a bit nerve-racking if you're opening for someone bigger too, because the crowd is really waiting to see them.”

That will be followed by new material.

“I've got a new song that I particularly like, and people have already said they like it,” she says.

“I'm inspired by films, what you read. Certain words. What's happening in your life. Or you'll come up with a melody or phrase and think, 'I really want to use that'.”

The music industry is traditionally male-dominated - and Lisa says that she thinks it's harder for women to make it.

“There's lots of credible female talent out there, but unfortunately there aren't that many that break through. KT Tunstall and Beth Orton have done really well,” she says.

And with all the hard work that Lisa's put into her career, she surely deserves to follow in their footsteps.

t Lisa Redford plays Norwich Playhouse on Thursday, April 13. The show, in aid of Norwich Samaritans and presented by BBC Radio Norfolk, starts at 8pm. Tickets cost £10. Box office: 01603 598598/ www.norwichplayhouse.org.uk

t To listen to some of Lisa's tracks visit www.myspace.com/lisaredford.

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