About Lisa Forkish
Lisa Forkish (she/they) is a queer singer-songwriter, community-builder, artivist, song-healer, and self-described “Love Warrior,” infusing all she creates with fierce authenticity and heart. Raised on unceded Kalapuya land (Eugene, OR) among majestic Douglas firs and her motherʻs baby grand piano, Lisa finds magic in that which is unseen but deeply heard and felt.
For the past two decades, Lisa has been using song as both an expressive art and a tool for building connection; their music weaves together lush, dissonant vocal harmonies with honest, life-affirming lyrics to create a musical landscape that nourishes the ears and the soul. Lisa has released four albums of original music, and their latest record is a one-human, all-vocal EP titled “Love Warrior,” featuring seven original songs in musical celebration of the human spirit.
For Lisa, teaching and facilitating music spaces is much more than a job: it is a sacred calling. Whether it be at a festival with hundreds of participants, diving deep with 12 singers, or finding tenderness in a 1:1 session, Lisa shows up with warmth, grace and humor. Lisa has been at the musical helm of six different vocal groups over the past 20 years, and is a sought-after ensemble coach and clinician. She is the creator and facilitator of WeSing Circles, an intergenerational community singing into the movement for our collective liberation. From 2011-2020, Lisa was on faculty at Oakland School for the Arts where she founded and directed five-time national champion high school a cappella group, Vocal Rush; known for their uplifting performances and commitment to music for social change, they were named one of the “YBCA 100” alongside artivists Janelle Monae and Tarana Burke.
Lisa has had the honor of performing at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and SF Jazz Center and their musical directing work has been showcased alongside Ben Harper, Michael Franti and Delta Rae. A fun fact: before beginning their professional career, Lisa’s stint as director of their college a cappella group Divisi was the inspiration for the box office hit film “Pitch Perfect.”
A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Lisa first combined music and social justice while a student, chairing Musicians Against Sexual Violence and leading the community in their first ever “Take Back the Night” rally. From 2012-2019, Lisa served Executive Director of the Women’s A Cappella Association, a 501(c)(3) with a mission to uplift marginalized voices in the vocal music community.
Lisaʻs ultimate aim in life is to utilize music for personal and collective healing and liberation. Lisa is currently a settler on occupied Kānaka Maoli land along the Hāmākua Coast of Hawaiʻi Island where she lives with her beloved Andrea, three cats, and a fruit orchard.
“Lisa has visions. What makes her so special is that she activates and actualizes her profound musical, cultural, community visions. She is a singer of depth and character, leading the way into the future with her own songs and the music of her exceptional groups.“
– Rhiannon, Vocalist / Teacher (Bobby McFerrin)
“Lisa renewed my faith in my own voice and in the power of music. If singing was a world religion and song its prayer, Lisa would be one of the high clerics, bringing peace, healing and communion through voice to all the world.”
– Rory Pattison, Singer-Songwriter
“Lisa is light and joy, but most importantly she is a true game changer!”
– Suzzette Ortiz, Composer / Teacher
“Lisa has a very unique way with people of all ages, she’s able to inspire and grasp these different parts of people that allows them to express and develop their creativity in the most vulnerable ways. Lisa’s method is both nurturing and skillful, she is a master teacher, a weaver of healing song.”
– Valerie Troutt, Vocalist / Artivist / Teacher
“I have known Lisa to be honestly seeking and searching for Truth in herself and the world. She has shown no judgement toward the young people she has led, but led my daughter and her peers with strong humility and because of that, they were eager to follow. My daughter’s life was forever changed and enriched because of Lisa’s leadership.”
– Shea Gilbert, Musician / Teacher
“After just a few encounters with Lisa, I spontaneously and with great affection started calling her, The Magic Maker. Because that is precisely who she is and exactly what she does, time and time again. Lisa is masterful at building community, spreading love and bringing joy through the powerful medium of music. She is one extraordinary human.”
– Loren Madden, Vocalist
“Lisa leads with heart and courage. She’s a risk taker as an educator and is constantly pushing the boundaries for herself and her students. Lisa is a brilliant arranger with the power to manipulate notes on the page into the most soul-stirring pieces. She cultivates leaders through her mentorship. Lisa makes her audiences cry, scream, jump for joy, and clutch their heart.”
– Cava Menzies, Musician / Visual Artist / Educator
“Lisa Forkish is a mad scientist, beautiful human being, and an amazing teacher.”
– Ben Spalding, Choral & A Cappella Director
“I knew when I met Lisa that the world would be different for so many, including me, because of her commitment to change through the sharing of song. I am deeply honored to have been with her on her journey.”
– Donna McElroy, Singer / Voice Professor (Berklee College of Music)
“Lisa is a force to be reckoned with as an artist and educator – she teaches by celebrating the music and the voice in each of us. Lisa makes her teaching and coaching look easy and that’s when you know it isn’t. She loves, supports and gives space to her students. All are welcome and then all are transformed; no ego, just commitment to the music and its power.”
– Branice McKenzie, Vocalist / Teaching Artist
“Lisa is a champion of inclusivity in the a cappella community.”
“This is an artist whose work is diverse and genuine.”
“Lisa Forkish has done a bit of everything – and done it well.”
“A heartwarming barnburner of an episode with Lisa Forkish”
“Renowned arranger, director, and activist Lisa Forkish sits down with Deke and Dietz to talk about inclusion in the a cappella community.”
“Continuing the conversation on gender in a cappella, we reached out to Lisa Forkish, the founder of the Women’s A Cappella Association.”
I believe in the alchemical power of song.
I believe all living beings have a soul, and inside of the soul, there is music; thus, there is music in all things.
I believe singing can tune us into the frequency of love and the interconnectedness within this vast universe.
I believe that reclaiming our creative voice can liberate us in profound ways, inviting us into truth, again and again.
I believe in a world where all beings have what they need, where harmony-singing is abundant and relationships are at the center.
I aim to disrupt delusions of supremacy and false notions of scarcity, binaries and separateness.
I aim to stay in my body, present with and curious about what is in me and before me.
Through listening, learning, adapting, healing, expanding, balancing, trusting, intuiting, dreaming and creating, I aim to live in right-relationship with myself, my community, and the earth.
I aim to both be and become.
I aim to be in service to the music — the song in each of us and the creative spirit that dances before us.
I know that both singing and community are our birthright, and are powerful medicine for the wounds of supremacy, oppression, and disconnection.
I know that through song and connection, we are co-creating a just, loving world.