Lisa Forkish is an Oakland-based vocalist, composer, arranger, and music educator. Hailing from the small, quaint and arts-centered town of Eugene, Oregon, Lisa was surrounded by music from an early age. Her first instrument was violin, but she soon realized that singing and writing songs was her true passion, and at age 11 took up piano in order to compose and accompany herself. During her time in Oregon, Lisa served four years as music director for the University of Oregon’s acclaimed female a cappella group, Divisi, featured in GQ editor Mickey Rapkin’s best-selling book “Pitch Perfect," later made into the box office smash hit film.
Lisa left the Pacific Northwest in 2006 to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston under a prestigious Vocal Performance scholarship. While at Berklee, Lisa self-produced and released her first record featuring all original songs, "Between You and Me," to much acclaim. In an effort to combine her passion for social justice with music, Lisa also founded and chaired Musicians Against Sexual Violence, or MASsiVe: a Berklee organization working to unite men and women in the fight to end sexual violence. Lisa received a Berklee Urban Service Award for her work with MASsiVe, and her song "Solidarity," written for the same cause, received the Runner-Up prize in Berklee's Songwriting for Social Change contest. Lisa graduated summa cum laude in 2010 with a Bachelor's of Music.
Lisa has a vast performance resume: she has performed all over the country at such world-renowned venues as Lincoln Center, Yoshi's Oakland, Arlene Schnitzer and Jimmy Mak's, and has shared the stage with notable artists Bobby McFerrin, Pink Martini and Stephen Schwartz. In 2010, Lisa had the honor of opening for K.D. Lang at Hillary Clinton's birthday party, at which Hillary exclaimed, "Beautiful music! Where can we find you?" As a songwriter/composer, Lisa has many accolades to her name; she was the winner of Portland's “Songwriter of the Year” award in 2009 and was one of only 12 young composers selected to participate in the 2010 Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Project, an intensive summer program at Northwestern University where she had the honor of working with Broadway composer/lyricists Craig Carnelia and Andrew Lippa, as well as three-time Grammy-winner Lari White.
In May 2012, Lisa released her second full-length record "Bridges" alongside her husband and jazz guitarist Patrick Anseth. "Bridges" was reviewed by numerous publications including Jazz Times and received radio rotation across the country, as well as in The Netherlands, Bavaria, Argentina and Canada. One year later, Lisa released a collaboration album with jazz pianist Cava Menzies on Pursuance Records. The bossa/jazz duo record "Vast is the Sky" was released in January 2013 under their group name CAVALISA to rave reviews and a packed Yoshi's CD Release Party. Lisa's latest recording project, "She Don't Stop" from breakout all-female a cappella quintet The Riveters, features Lisa's lush arrangements and contralto vocals.
Currently, Lisa is on Vocal Music Faculty at Oakland School for the Arts (OSA) where she teaches both middle and high school students. She is the founder/director of Vocal Rush, OSA's renowned a cappella ensemble who, under the leadership of "Ms. Forkish," won the 2012, 2013 and 2015 International Championship of High School A Cappella finals, and in December of 2013 placed 3rd on NBC's hit reality singing show "The Sing-Off." Lisa is a prolific arranger, having commissioned works for The LoveNotes, University of Oregon’s Divisi, Synergy Women’s A Cappella, and of course Vocal Rush. Her arrangements have been nominated for numerous Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards and in 2013, Lisa was nominated for an A Cappella Community Award in the category of “Favorite Arranger.” As an a cappella director, singer and arranger, Lisa was also also ranked #4 on the A Cappella Blog’s “100 Coolest People in A Cappella.” As a leading figure in the burgeoning a cappella scene, Lisa is also the President, Education Coordinator and one of the founders of the Women’s A Cappella Association (WACA), a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and celebrating women in a cappella through outreach, community building, resources, and most importantly, hosting an annual festival called SheSings.
Lisa continues to write, perform and teach in the Bay Area. In her spare time (if such time exists), Lisa enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, and getaway weekends at the coast.