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Young singer's first CD has been years in the making.

Byline: Serena Markstrom The Register-Guard

Lisa Forkish is only 23 years old, so it's hard to imagine that anything in her young life has been a long time coming.

But she's done many musical laps for her age, having spent years in high school choruses, another patch of time as musical director of Divisi at the University of Oregon. Most recently she worked on a performance degree at Berklee College in Boston.

But now, finally, emphasis for her on "finally," she is releasing her first CD of solo material, "Between You and Me." She has moved back to the West Coast from Boston, now living in Portland, and as she says in her opening track, "Twenty-Two," she's ready to "play this game."

Around here, people likely know her best for her years with the UO a cappella group Divisi, which author Mickey Rapkin chose as one of the subjects of his recent book, "Pitch Perfect: The Quest for College A Cappella Glory." Forkish has a large role in the book, commensurate with her large role in poising Divisi for national prominence in the genre, and as Rapkin argues, subculture.

While in Boston Forkish formed an a cappella group of professional women, but it was short lived, she says, because members had other priorities.

Recording and releasing a solo album became one of Forkish's priorities in 2007, when she wrote new songs, then went into production last winter.

She says in an e-mail interview that she has been writing songs since she was 11, but once her band got into the studio in January, it laid down the tracks quickly and it was only about a month before the project was completed.

Here is a little more about the new album, and Forkish's reaction to Rapkin's book. For a full transcript of the interview, go to the Ticket Files blog.

Question: "Going My Way" seems a pretty obvious nod to your past in Divisi. What's the story behind this song? "Yeah" proved any song could be arranged for a cappella performance, so why did you choose this song to do in this style? Do you do all the parts?

Answer: (It's) definitely a tribute to my years with Divisi. I arranged it for (the) women's a cappella group that I founded in Boston during my first year of school at Berklee ... When it came time to choose songs for the album, I thought it would be a lot of fun to record all six parts on that arrangement myself and produce it like an a cappella track ...

I chose this song in particular for an a cappella arrangement because it is a simple, sweet, little song. The lyrics talk about that frightening moment in a relationship when you find yourself falling in love but you're not yet sure if your partner is falling with you ... I think this final track on the album is a pleasant surprise for the listener, whether they be an a cappella fan, or someone hearing that type of vocal arrangement for the very first time.

Question: Speaking of Divisi, what is your general impression of "Pitch Perfect"?

Answer: I have mixed feelings about the book. (It) has provided an incredible amount of positive attention for Divisi (and) increased album sales. I am almost overwhelmed knowing how many people now know about that whole ordeal (at the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella in 2005). It was utterly surreal hearing (Rapkin) rant on NPR about how Divisi was robbed of the first place title - I never before would have imagined living that moment. However, I do feel like Divisi as a group was sometimes represented inaccurately, and there was quite a bit of misinformation in the book, facts sometimes twisted for dramatic effect and so forth.

Question: How has being in that group affected your solo material and approach to songwriting?

Answer: The most obvious (way) to me is the performance aspect. Having been on stage literally a countless amount of times with Divisi, I have come to feel completely at home in any kind of performance setting. And not just comfortable, because I think I have had an easy time performing since my childhood, but really feeling inspired on stage, and truly engaged with my audience. Also through my work with Divisi, I became more strategic with a greater attention to detail in my relationship to music and performance, in addition to having the necessary creative piece. That much has undoubtedly affected me as a songwriter, and even more so as a solo artist doing all my own business, promotion, producing, networking, the whole works.

Maybe most importantly though, I strengthened my confidence, coming from years of singing with a group of compassionate, supportive women. I definitely use my solo stuff now to empower women and girls as best I can.

concert preview

Former Divisi director Lisa Forkish returns to town for two CD release shows

CD World: Free show today at 6:30 p.m. at 3215 W. 11th Ave.

Jo Federigo's: Saturday at 9:30 p.m., 259 E. Fifth Ave, for a $5 cover

What: Singer-songwriter with jazz background

On the Web: Listen to samples and view full transcript of interview at rgweb.registerguard.com/ticketfiles
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Title Annotation:Entertainment; Lisa Forkish, the former director of an a cappella group, goes solo this time
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 8, 2008
Words:873
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