Lisa Yvonne Ferraro
“Extraordinary jazz vocalist Lisa Yvonne Ferraro is a soulful original and has one of the most distinctive voices heard today,” said jazz radio personality and founder and president of the Pittsburgh Jazz Society, Tony Mowod. Lisa is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she has been an in-demand local performer while also touring nationally and internationally. For five years she sang one Friday a month at James Street Tavern, a center of Pittsburgh’s jazz community.
In 2009, Lisa moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she rapidly developed a local following. Her debut at Anna’s Jazz Island in Berkeley was followed by performances with a Big Band at Yoshi’s Jazz Club and at La Peña Cultural Center with Erika Luckett, and she has become a regular at Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, whose 450 seat theater with world class sound and staging belies its folksy name. Also a producer, she has organized “Diva Nights” in both Pittsburgh and the Bay Area as fundraisers for musicians facing cancer.
Lisa Ferraro has been singing since the age of three. As a child, she heard vibrations emanating from flowers and trees, symphonies ringing from the garden, and she sang constantly to express what she heard. She grew up singing in churches, where she was known as “the little redhead that could sing.”
Lisa became a professional at the age of eight, singing with Italian dancing groups. As she grew up, she sang for private parties and in dance bands. At the age of 17, she began performing in clubs. Since then, she has recorded and performed nationally and internationally with big band jazz ensembles, rock and soul bands, and in a duo with vocalist and guitarist Erika Luckett.
Lisa debuted an original composition with Marvin Hamlisch and the Pittsburgh Symphony Pops, and has performed and recorded with jazz legends Hendrik Merkins and Roger Humphries. In 2005, she teamed up with musician, composer and arranger Mike Tomaro. As a recipient of a Pennsylvania Performing Arts on Tour grant for many years, she toured throughout the US and Canada with Tomaro’s Big Band. She was invited to record a live performance at Fallingwater, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s inspiring homes, and the recording, with a quartet that included Tomaro on saxophone, was released in 2008 under the title Twilight Tour: Live at Fallingwater.
As a composer, Lisa Ferraro has written music for ABC TV’s Wife Swap; Polygram Films; The Roberto Clemente Foundation; and the play The Other Side of the River, which aired on PBS stations. A talented songwriter, Lisa was commissioned by Major League baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates to write and perform the song More Than A Man commemorating the late great Roberto Clemente.
Lisa is also a sought-after music director, speaker and workshop facilitator for inspirational conferences throughout the United States and in other countries. She has teamed up with Erika Luckett to write a powerful workshop on Cultivating Creativity.
Lisa sees a spiritual thread running through everything. “God has always spoken to me through music,” she says, “so I find music the best way to express love. My religion is music, the language of my heart.” Invited twelve years ago to perform at an event sponsored by the Centers for Spiritual Living, she has been asked to return as music director for the organization’s events across the US and Canada every year since then. In 2009, her group Ruby was selected from among thousands of musical groups to perform songs from their recording On the Way of Love: Songs Inspired by Rumi at the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia.
Lisa has a distinct vocal style which is soulful, powerful and warm, with a vocal range that extends over four and a half octaves. In performance, she tries to connect with the audience individually and personally. “We co-create my performances,” she says, “so that no two are exactly alike.”
Public Events Coordinator Pat Erdelsky, of the Westmoreland, Pennsylvania, Museum of Art, agrees: “Once you hear Lisa, you’re hooked on jazz. Her pure tones keep bringing you back. Whether performing for an intimate gathering or a sold out concert, Lisa Ferraro makes you feel as if she is singing just to you.”
One producer describes the audience’s experience: "From the moment Lisa takes the stage, you notice her countenance, it's her presence because it's truly rare. You just know something really different and really great is about to happen. It's sort of awe inspiring in a way." The warmth of her radiant smile, along with a rich sense of humor and a contagious laugh keeps audiences hanging on every word of a story between songs.
Lisa graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Child Psychology from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. In 1999 she founded SoulCall, a non-profit dedicated to improving the lives of foster children and at risk youth, and she was selected in 2009 as one of Pittsburgh’s Fifty Finest by the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation of America.
She has released ten albums, beginning with Balance in 1998, an uplifting mix of modern rock and ballads. In the early 1990s, she had begun to develop a passion for jazz standards, and this was reflected in her next two recordings, LYF Standards and Timeless, released in 2002 and 2003 respectively. The 2002 album also included an original composition, “If Just this One Time,” which she performed with Marvin Hamlisch at Heinz Auditorium in Pittsburgh. Another of her recordings, Jazz Up the Holidays, was nominated for an International Independent Music Award in 2006. Her latest expression, Serenading The Moon, culminates in a collaboration with some of the finest players on the jazz scene today: legendary saxophonist, Houston Person, Lewis Nash on drums, Ray Drummond on bass, James Chirillo on guitar and John DiMartino on piano.