Lisa Stansfield

Lisa Stansfield (born Lisa Jane Stansfield, 11 April 1966, Heywood, Lancashire, England) is a English pop singer-songwriter.


Early life and career


She attended Redbrook School, Rochdale and her first television appearance was on a talent programme in the Granada TV area in 1982. She won it singing The Human League track "The Things That Dreams Are Made Of". The series was produced by the then Head of Light Entertainment at Granada TV, Johnny Hamp.


After releasing several unsuccessful singles in her mid-teens, she co-hosted a Children's TV pop show, Razzmatazz with Alistair Pirrie; additionally, Stansfield could be seen in 1983 children's television series The Krankies Klub, alongside comedian Jimmy Cricket and pop rock band Rocky Sharpe and the Replays. She became a major international star, still keeping her thick Heywood-ian (Lancashire) accent; in reference to the latter and to her working class background. Shaun Ryder from Happy Mondays once said that Stansfield's family "makes mine look posh". There is a common misperception that Lisa Stansfield is related to the late Gracie Fields (whose real name was Grace Stansfield and who hailed from Rochdale). However, Stansfield does own a recording studio called Gracielands.


Top ten success


Though her UK band Blue Zone saw modest success with the single "Jackie", she really came onto the radar with her guest vocal stint on Coldcut's record "People Hold On". She is probably best known for her first UK number-one single, "All Around the World" (1989), which also peaked at number three in the United States Billboard Hot 100 the following year. Other worldwide hits from her solo debut album Affection include "This Is the Right Time" (featuring a house music-styled production by Coldcut with Mark Saunders), "Live Together", "What Did I Do to You" and "You Can't Deny It". "All Around the World" was the second song by a white female soloist to hit number one on the Billboard R&B chart; (the first being "Ooo La La La" by Teena Marie in 1988);"You Can't Deny It" also topped that chart. Affection went platinum in the U.S., and sold a total of five million copies worldwide.


In 1990, Stansfield was among a handful of high profile artists to participate in the Red Hot + Blue charity disc (which honoured Cole Porter's songwriting, and benefitted AIDS research, at a time when funding from government agencies was insufficient to those in need). She got to show her swing and jazz chops on the song "Down in the Depths", which was one of few traditional renditions to appear on the album. Thus began an illustrious and respected tradition of Stansfield offering jazz and torch songs to outside projects (most recently she sang "I've Got the World on a String" for the Mona Lisa Smile soundtrack). This is likely what got her noticed for consideration as the female lead in the independent film Swing (1999), where she was to sing the majority of the film's songs as well as act.


In 1992, Stansfield won a BRIT Award as best British female solo artist. Her second album Real Love did not quite live up to the success of Affection; it did spawn four Top 40 singles on the European charts: "Change", "All Woman", "Time to Make You Mine" and "Set Your Loving Free". "All Woman" became Stansfield's third number one single on the Billboard R&B chart, and due to the success of that song, the album went gold in the U.S. To date, Stansfield is the only white female solo artist to top the R&B chart three times.


European stardom


She continued recording disco-influenced soul throughout the 1990s. Her third album So Natural (1993) spawned three Top 40 European singles including the title track (UK no. 15), "In All the Right Places" (UK no. 8), and "Little Bit of Heaven" (UK no. 32), but the album was never released in the USA. She had continued success throughout Europe, but her popularity in North America had diminished.


Her self-titled fourth album Lisa Stansfield (1997) was a hit in Europe with two Top Ten singles: "People Hold On" (re-released as a dance mix by the Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and "The Real Thing," and the Top 40 track "Never Never Gonna Give You Up" (a remake of Barry White's 1973 hit); upon being released in the USA the album received some mainstream attention, but much more in the dance clubs where remixes were very successful (an astonishing four singles: "Never Never Gonna Give You Up", "Never Gonna Fall", "I'm Leavin'", "People Hold On" reached number one on the Hot Dance Club Play chart). It charted modestly peaking at number 30 Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and number 55 on the Billboard 200. Also in the US, "Never Never Gonna Give You Up" also became Stansfield's last Top 40 R&B hit, and final Hot 100 hit. Subsequently, the remix album was released due to Stansfield's reinterest from the dance community. The music video for "Never Never Gonna Give You Up" was an eye-catcher featuring a nude Stansfield strolling a city street, acquiring a few items of clothing along the way. VH1 featured the clip and even gave it the Pop-Up Video treatment.


Her 2001 album Face Up was less successful, barely charting and with a lack of publicity but featured the singles "Let's Just Call It Love" and "8-3-1" and found her experimenting with newer styles of R&B such as 2-step while continuing with her established sound. Stansfield's husband, Ian Devaney, delivered an arrangement for the ballad "How Could You", which displayed his love of Burt Bacharach's legacy. Only one single was released in the UK.


Changing labels


Following the release of Face Up, a greatest hits collection called Biography was released, which sold well in the UK and Europe. Stansfield then parted ways with Arista/BMG (ending an eighteen year association with the label). Stansfield signed with ZTT Records for the United Kingdom, and her 2004 release The Moment was produced by Trevor Horn, well-known for his work with Seal, Grace Jones, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood among others. The album would be distributed in Europe by Edel. Featuring the singles "Treat Me Like a Woman" (released as a "double A side" with "Easier") and "If I Hadn't Got You" a song written by Chris Braide with ex-Squeeze songwriter Chris Difford. The album found her exploring more pop-oriented material, and focusing on lush ballads.


Despite this, as with her previous release, the album and supporting singles were not a success. At the time of the project's release, ZTT was gearing large amounts of its resources into re-marketing its back catalogue, and producing the Trevor Horn concert for The Prince's Trust and its accompanying double CD, Produced by Trevor Horn. The release of "Treat Me Like a Woman" was delayed twice. The label eventually paired it with "Easier". While ZTT did erect a billboard to advertise the album in Stansfield's home area of Greater Manchester, print advertising and "in store" displays were reportedly absent. Later that year ZTT dropped her from their label.


A DVD of Stansfield's Ronnie Scott's performance in 2003 was released in 2005.


Marriage


In July 1998, she married trombonist and guitarist Ian Devaney, whom she has known since her school days and with whom she also collaborates (he is also a composer, arranger and producer).


Acting


Stansfield also acts; she starred in the 1999 film Swing with actor Hugo Speer, and recorded covers of swing classics and a few original songs written in the style for the soundtrack. She later appeared on a London stage in The Vagina Monologues. In 2006, she guest-starred in the series Goldplated. In 2007, she starred in a Marple episode ("Ordeal by Innocence"), and later joined the cast of The Edge of Love.


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