Lisa Forkish

Lisa Forkish


Recently named Portland's "Performing Songwriter of the Year," Lisa's compositions are a soulful marriage of piano-folk, vintage jazz and 21st-century cabaret with rich, fervent vocals and delicately arranged piano.


A "gal Billy Joel!" exclaims Mark Simos, writer for Alison Krauss and professor at Berklee College of Music where Lisa was educated. Songwriter Jon Aldrich says "Watch for the name Lisa Forkish!"

Lisa Forkish is an Oakland-based songwriter, performing singer-composer-pianist, arranger, choral director and music educator. Lisa is on vocal faculty at Oakland School for the Arts where she directs their premier choir, most recently invited to perform at Governer Jerry Brown’s inauguration. Lisa had the honor of opening for k.d. lang at Hillary Clinton’s birthday party last fall, and has shared the stage with a number of distinguished artists including Bobby McFerrin, Pink Martini and Stephen Schwartz. A native Oregonian, Lisa was music director from 2003-2006 for the University of Oregon’s acclaimed female a cappella group, Divisi, featured in GQ editor Mickey Rapkin’s best-selling book “Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory” and 2nd place winner of the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella. Lisa’s arrangement of “So Are You To Me” performed by Divisi was nominated for a CARA (Contemporary A Cappella Recording Award).

Lisa grew up surrounded by music, playing violin, piano, and of course, singing. She began writing songs at the age of 11, and made her debut performance at the age of 12. Lisa's early career in her hometown of Eugene, OR included singing with the Oregon Bach Festival Chorus, directing renowned women's a cappella group Divisi and producing/directing a Broadway Revue. In 2006, Lisa left the Pacific Northwest to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Under a prestigious and hefty Vocal Performance scholarship, Lisa honed her skills, studying songwriting, theory, piano, and voice with grammy- nominated singer Donna McElroy, Joey Blake (member of Bobby McFerrin’s group Voicestra) and Stephen Santoro (back-up vocalist for Sting). Determined to prove that being a full-time musician wasn't just a pipe dream, Lisa took a year off in 2008 to pursue her music career in Portland, OR. During this time she created her own private teaching studio, worked as a choir teacher for Ethos Music Center, and won the Portland Songwriter's Association's "Songwriter of the Year" Award, among many other accomplishments. Lisa returned to Berklee in the fall of 2009 to much success: two of her musical theater compositions were selected for Berklee's Musical Theater Writing Showcase and her original "Going My Way" was selected for the Women Musicians Network Concert as well as the Perfect Pitch Songwriting Competition. 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.

After graduating summa cum laude in May of 2010, Lisa moved back to the West Coast with a B.M. in Professional Music. Before beginning her career in the SF Bay Area, Lisa was one of only 12 songwriters selected to participate in the 2010 Johnny Mercer Songwriter’s Project, an intensive week-long workshop at Northwestern University where she had the honor of working with Broadway composer/lyricsts Craig Carnelia and Andrew Lippa, as well three-time grammy winner Lari White. To date, Lisa has released two records, "Between You and Me," her full-length debut album and "With Her Heart In Her Mouth" a concept-EP, both available at Lisa lives in the East Bay with her husband and fellow member of their jazz group, Sweet Vintage Duo:



Written By: Lisa Forkish

next to the bed where he rests his head
she plays a sweet song on her lyre
it's midnight now, no guests allowed
she drives the car home to retire
waiting, waiting here
waiting, wait for me dear
she's waiting for the sun to shed light on another day of waiting
the dew of morn has been reborn
he watches spring come on a t.v. screen
his body aches, more pills he takes
to peace the war that grows inside, it can't be seen
waiting, he's waiting on a prayer
waiting to hope it's no longer there
waiting, oh does he dare let the sun shed light on another day of
one tube -attach remove- two bites of hospital food
three special words from the woman by his side
one tumor here, two times the fear
three words for my father to hear while i'm waiting
my mother plays her lyre today
she smiles a smile for him to smile right back
his chest still hurts, but it's been worse
we bless this day, and wait
for the sun to shed light on
another day of life.

Between You and Me

Written By: Lisa Forkish

've seen a place where flowers bloom from the kiss of sunshine
And every trace of rain and dewdrops sparkle so divine
Now it's few and far between but Mother Earth is still our queen and she says
"Between you and me, I know we're gonna be fine, fine, fine."

I remember the day when we sang our song for a woman who was sayin' goodbyes
Her hair was grey, her body in so much pain, but the music lessened her cries
At the end of her days, in her very last phrase she said
"Between you and me, I know we're gonna be fine, fine, fine."

I know a child, he has a big heart, he wants to understand
When the others get wild, tryin' to hurt each other, he reaches out a hanf
To pacify, so brave and wise he says
"Between you and me, I know we're gonna be fine, fine, fine."

Just between you and me, I know we can have peace
It's nothing new
Find a way every day, celebrate, make this way bigger than just me and you
And believe we can be more than just fine.

Going My Way

Written By: Lisa Forkish

Red light, green light
Please don't give me yellow tonight
Here I am, there you go
Please start telling me this is right
I've swallowed a butterfly, hush hush
You can't know how it's growing inside me, too much

Fear of this path we're traveling
Is it okay?
Now that my soul's unraveling
Will you be going my way?

My truth sits here
Waiting out on a wing
My safety has let go
To find what tomorrow will bring
I can soar away now, just can't look down
Instead I look up to you, so sound

Here on this path I'm staying
Is it okay?
If a song for our future's playing
Will you be going my way?
The truth is
More with each day that passes
I want you going my way.

Fly Me Home

Written By: Lisa Forkish

Wings on machinery wait to take flight
Somewhere there's someone who needs me tonight
Fly me home.

Tired of this timezone and skyline in view
Aching to be where I can see all of you
Fly me home.

Home where pine cones and rain drops
On the ground like your fingers
Fall gently on ivory, paying christmas tunes
I'll count through Novembers and Harvest Moons.

Then we will gather like every year
Sipping on cider and holiday cheer
Fly me home.
I wanna go home.


"Between You and Me" (LP) Released February 2008
Available on iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon and more!

"With Her Heart In Her Mouth" (EP) Release May 2010
Now available on CDBaby!

Set List

Up to 3 hours of original music and/or several sets of jazz, soul and folk covers including:

What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
I Remember - Stephen Sondheim
People Make The World Go 'Round - The Stylistics
Chinese Cafe/Unchained Melody - Joni Mitchell
Walk On By - Bacharach/David
Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers
'Round Midnight - Thelonius Monk
They All Laughed - Gershwin
One For My Baby - Arlen/Mercer

as well as full sets of jazz standards and other real-book gems.