Born 1969 in the San Francisco area; raised in Dallas, TX; brother Ben a classical musician, father a physician and piano player. Education: Brown University. Addresses: Record Company-Geffen Records, 9130 Sunset Boulevard, L.A., CA 90069 Phone: (310) 278-9010 Fax: (310) 858-7063.

Alternative pop singer and guitarist Lisa Loeb is noted for her thoughtfully crafted melodies and original songs that contain compelling narratives. Her songs are akin to setting short stories to music, and she initially garnered a lot of unexpected exposure when her single "Stay (I Missed You)" was featured on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites in 1994. According to Jeff Colchamiro of Guitar World Acoustic, the single "Stay (I Missed You)" holds the distinction of being the sole Number One single by an unsigned artist. Loeb told Colchamiro, "For a long time, being a songwriter and a girl meant that you were considered a folk singer.... I felt like I was doing something more in the genre of Elvis Costello--a person who plays with a band sometimes and plays all different kinds of songs, and it's not folky. They're just songs." Colchamiro described Loeb's style as, "slick pop arrangements and orchestral instrumentation with ... layered vocals, straightforward rock strumming and jazzy acoustic fingerpicking."

People magazine's Alec Foege described Loeb's chart-topping "Stay (I missed You)" as, "an unabashedly sweet acoustic ballad ... she seemed daringly different." Loeb explores the mentality of various characters in her music, and has appeared as an actress in two films and a television show. She told Sharon Steinbach of Hits magazine, "Music is my business, it's my life, but I can schedule stuff around it."

Suburban Dallas childhood infused with music

Loeb was born in 1969 in the San Francisco area, and was raised in Dallas, TX, along with her older brother Ben. Her father, a physician, used to play the piano at home frequently, as did her brother, and her brother eventually became a classical musician. Loeb was immersed in music lessons and performance experiences before the age of fourteen. When she was eight, she won an award for a song she composed for the piano and she played it in a recital. Her high school had a minimum of two mandatory shows per year, and at the local Jewish Community Center Loeb played Musetta in La Boheme, a postman, a young Mexican girl, an Oscar Meyer wiener in a musical fashion show, and the character Linus in You're A Good Man Charlie Brown. Loeb began playing the guitar at the age of fourteen-primarily because her brother was always using the piano when she needed it-and she discovered that she enjoyed being able to carry an instrument around with her and take it to the privacy of her room. Loeb's first live, acoustic guitar performance occurred at sleep-away summer camp, where she performed a unique version of Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven". She began writing songs for the guitar at age fifteen, figuring that composing an original song was preferable to remembering the Rush and John Cougar songs that her guitar teacher hoped she would master.

Loeb's early influences were the Cure, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix, Kiss, Elton John, the musical Annie, Led Zeppelin, Olivia Newton-John, and the Police. Queen's A Night At The Opera, including the release's cover art, was another early influence for Loeb, along with other top 40 rock and pop hits from the 1970s and early 1980s. She learned to finger-pick as a teenager, and developed an interest in acoustic music. She eventually relied upon a hybrid finger- picking style, using a flatpick and finger picking with her other three fingers.

Seminal college experiences, then: Ethan Hawke

Loeb went to Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island after high school, and found that she was more interested in playing and recording music than pursuing her studies in comparative literature. She created a group called Liz and Lisa in college with her friend Liz Mitchell, and the musician Duncan Sheik played with them for a year. Loeb and Mitchell performed often and spent their last two years in school mostly in the recording studio. A few years after graduating from Brown, Loeb pursued a solo career in earnest and Mitchell founded a band called Ida.

Loeb moved to New York City after college and played as many shows as possible. She tirelessly performed at clubs, coffeehouses, and music festivals until she began to see results. She recorded a demo called The Purple Tape with producer/engineer Juan Patino in his home studio, and during this period of time in the early 1990s, Loeb made a lot business contacts and visited numerous record company offices with her demo tape in hand. Record company A & R executives began requesting her tapes-and the listening public began to purchase them as well. It was serendipitous that actor Ethan Hawke was Loeb's neighbor and then friend, because he heard "Stay (I Miss You)," requested a copy, played it for actor/director Ben Stiller, and it was featured on the soundtrack for the enormously popular film Reality Bites in 1994. Ethan Hawke then directed a video for the song, and it reached the top of the charts. Loeb didn't release her debut album, Tails, until 1995, because the popularity of the single entailed touring, extensive promotional work, signing with a label, and appearing on the "David Letterman Show". "Stay (I Missed You)" was nominated for a Grammy Award and won a Brit Award in 1995.

Acted in films, released Firecracker

Tails was released worldwide and Loeb toured with her band, Nine Stories, and alone with her acoustic guitar. Nine Stories is comprised of bass player Joe Quigley, guitarist Mark Spencer, and drummer Ronny Crawford. For the release of Tails, Loeb used Juan Patino on drums, JR Robinson of Chaka Khan, and musician Leland Sklar. She played with Lyle Lovett and Sarah McLachlan in the U.S., and toured Europe with the Counting Crows. She also toured with the Lilith Fair in 1997 and 1998, singing with Lyle Lovett, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, the indigo Girls, and Bill Janovitz from Buffalo Tom. She told Calchamiro, "It was a real community and there was a lot of encouragement and good will towards people.... It was a learning experience ... A lot of times when you play music, you're on tour and you don't get to see what other artists are doing or get inspired by their ideas."

Loeb appeared in the film Black Circle Boys, which was screened at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival, and in the independent Arroyo Studios film Serial Killing for Dummies. She also appeared in an episode of the television show The Nanny. She then released Firecracker in 1998 and used classical orchestration in her material for the first time. She told Steinbach, "It takes the songs to a different place than they would normally go. It gives a deeper cinematic quality to songs like "Falling In Love" or "Furious Rose." They're not standard pop arrangements. That's the part of the album I really love." Firecracker has a more intimate sound than Tails, but features the same storytelling themes as her previous work, a theme that has now become Loeb's trademark-along with her large, black, cat-eyed glasses. Leob told Steinbach, "I love playing shows. I love being there and relating to the audience and I love when people are singing along at concerts. That feels good. it's so immediate."

by B. Kimberly Taylor

Lisa Loeb's Career

Began playing the guitar at the age of fourteen; began composing songs for the guitar at age fifteen; founded a band called Liz and Lisa with Elizabeth Mitchell of the group Ida; the single "Stay (I missed You)" featured on the soundtrack for the film Reality Bites, 1994; and it reached number one on the pop charts; released Tails, Geffen Records, 1995; released Firecracker, Geffen Records, 1998; toured with the Lilith Fair,1997 and 1998; appeared in the film Black Circle Boys,1997; appeared in the independent Arroyo Studios film Serial Killing for Dummies; appeared in an episode of the television show "The Nanny."

Lisa Loeb's Awards

Brit Award for "Stay (I Missed You)", 1995.

Famous Works

Further Reading


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