Lisa Stansfield has done as much as anyone to establish Britain as a credible home of disco and house, soul and R&B, a viable alternative to the United States. Really, considering the last three decades of those genres, this nation’s saving soul graces have been Lisa and Sade, and anyone operating in those realms today owes them a debt of gratitude.
“Sade is unbelievable,” she says. “She certainly had an influence on me and the way I saw myself. She was unusual, and so was I. Nobody could find a place to put me. I wasn’t the typical soul artist. Certainly not the typical English soul artist.”
Lisa recognizes the sublime music made in the name of disco but acknowledges that satin and spandex were never her thing.
When she first emerged, in the mid-80s, she was one-third of a group, with Morris and Devaney, called Blue Zone, who were in thrall to Chicago house and Detroit techno. One of their tracks from 1988, Big Thing, exploded on the underground, leading to a team-up between Lisa and electronic dance duo Coldcut: the single People Hold On became a No 11 hit in the UK (and a Top 10 entry on America’s dance chart), and the rest is history. Since her breakthrough, with a combination of “determination plus good luck” as she puts it, Lisa has sold over 20 million records, bringing her unique brand of soul, R&B and Brit-house to the masses.
Her successful streak, which as of 2018 shows no signs of stopping, started in 1989 with the Affection album and its attendant singles: All Around The World (which did indeed become massive across the globe), What Did I Do To You, Live Together, You Can’t Deny It and This Is The Right Time, the latter another joint effort by Lisa and Coldcut.
Deeper is, Lisa contends, the perfect album to put on before a Friday night out, but it also provides the ideal Saturday morning comedown soundtrack. And it ends with a superb version of The Family Stand’s Ghetto Heaven, which brings the artist back full circle.
“It was my favourite song on the first tour for Affection,” she says, misty-eyed. Has singing it made her survey her career and assess her contribution? “Yeah,” she replies. “It’s pretty sweet. I was in this bar on Sunset in LA recently, and I got talking to this young gay black guy, full of life. He asked me what I did and I said I was a singer from England. He said, ‘Oh, I love British music, especially Lisa Stansfield, she’s my favourite!’ When I told him who I was he said, ‘I can’t believe it’s you - you’ve made my whole week!’ It’s so lovely to know my music has touched so many people. Hopefully it will continue to do so. For another 30 years? If my little legs can last that long.”