Good music will forever help people get through their struggles and celebrate their victories. Not only the listener but many times the songwriter uses a song as therapy to deal with situations. A great example is the song “Fly Away” by Lisa Hugo.
The song is a beautiful piano ballad that she wrote after losing her father to a long battle with cancer. The vocals pour out with real feeling inviting the listener into the emotion. The way Lisa Hugo hits the chorus with her amazing voice will make anyone take notice. Piano accompaniment creates a pretty sonic background that brings it all together. This is top notch songwriting through and through.
We had the chance to chat with Lisa Hugo to describe her sound and unique talents. Enjoy the interview here:
What was it that first drew you to singing and performing?
My parents have recordings of me singing my favourite songs from when I was around the age of 5. I just loved to sing and dance…it was my biggest passion. I also remember putting on concerts for the entire family at such a young age, as many kids do I suppose. But that’s when it started for me. I started piano lessons when I was 7 and as soon as I could put the two together, it was a natural progression to then start singing and playing, writing songs and performing seriously. My early performing opportunities came through the church.
How would you describe the Lisa Hugo sound?
Unique! I have a big voice which can cover many octaves and love to sing many different styles of music. My sound has changed and developed over the years as has my song-writing. My first album “Don’t Let Go”, released in 1995, was a big mix of different influences whereby I tried to showcase that I could sing all styles of music, from musical theatre to Irish ballads and jazz swing mixed in with my own original pop songs. Sadly, this didn’t work commercially, as I didn’t fit into any style of music for a label. My second album “Natural”, was exactly as the titled depicted. Recorded live from one of my gigs in Europe. Just voice and piano and this album sold very well at my performances. Nowadays I would say my style is kind of mellow acoustic pop with jazz and soul influences, however, my more recent songs are very big productions which could fit a movie soundtrack.
Which artists have been your biggest influences?
I have always been a huge fan of Barbra Streisand; her voice, her vocal control, her emotion, and her unpretentiousness. Natalie Cole was another great influence when I started singing jazz and swing with the big bands in Australia. The late Eva Cassidy for her ability to take a familiar song and make it special and original. Whitney Houston and Diana Ross for their incredible voices, power, range and prowess. Amy Grant was an early influence when I first started songwriting and was performing throughout the church scene. There are so many, I cannot name them all.
Your career has taken you around the world. How has this affected your music?
I have had the opportunity to meet and play music with some amazing musicians and artists around the world. This has inspired and motivated my song-writing. In Germany and Belgium, I was working with some fantastic Jazz musicians. Consequently, I started writing more sultry jazz/pop as can be heard in my album from 2009 “It’s Time”. Here in the Middle East, I have been working with an arranger/producer and my latest releases are more classical pop.
Tell us about your latest single “Fly Away?”
When it comes to lyrics, I usually write about topics which are very close to me. Inspired by family, relationships and my children. Fly Away is no exception. I lost my father several years ago after a long battle with cancer. It took me quite some time to get to a point where I could emotionally face writing the song. Once it was finished, I put it in a drawer for a couple more years: I wasn’t ready to share it. It was only earlier this year, I decided to record it and see what could evolve from the song. It has been quite an emotional journey over the past months as it has brought back a lot of memories. I believe it is one of my best works and I have a strong sense, my father was with me every step of the way whilst recording this song and that he would be proud.
You also do vocal coaching. What is the best way to get started singing?
Yes, I am well established as a vocal coach in the Middle East both to singers and speakers. I also have a YouTube Channel for coaching internationally. For singers first starting out, I recommend they find a professional vocal coach who emphasizes healthy techniques. There are many singing teachers out there, but not all teachers are good. The voice is an instrument just like any other and requires practice to master it. The basis of a good vocal technique is good breath control. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough!
What is next for Lisa Hugo?
I have many things in the planning. I am continuing to song-write and hope to release an entire album soon. I am working on securing a publishing deal. For singers, I am currently recording a fun and funky series of exercises which will be available in a learn to sing app for download on iTunes and my vocal coaching website.
What advice would you give to other singers pursuing their passion?
Practise your craft so you are the best you can be. Be curious, try new styles, genres until you develop your own style that really fits. Take opportunities when they come and don’t be afraid. Fear will hold you back.
“Fly Away” is available on iTunes
Keep up with more music and vocal coaching by Lisa Hugo at: