“What an appealing, friendly ‘girl-next-door’ type of person she seems", I thought as I started my conversation with Canadian Country Singer/Songwriter Lisa Brokop. With the winning combination of streaked blonde/brown hair, warm brown eyes and wide welcoming smile plus enormous talent and determination, this attractive, articulate and likeable entertainer is at a stage of her life when anything and everything is possible.
But let’s journey back to the little 8 year old who used to sing on stage while her brother played the drums and her mother the accordion as they performed at local seniors’ nursing homes. “Why the interest in country music at that young age?”, I asked her. “Even when I was just 4 years old”, she explained, “My favourite song was ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’ and I loved Dottie West and Anne Murray and wanted to be just like them.” Lisa was exposed to all types of music growing up and her brother, Dean, was a pop music fan but her parents often had country music on the radio. To Lisa, country music was about the lyrics and the stories they told drew her in.
All Lisa wanted to do was sing and she was soon entering talent competitions. At the age of 15 she joined her first band ‘The Sweetwater Band’ and traveled all over Canada performing in clubs and bars She laughed as she told me of her parents’ bemused expressions when they saw the old rickety yellow and black school bus which was to take Lisa on her first tour from her home city of Vancouver in British Columbia to the frozen wasteland of Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario. Indeed, the bus broke down numerous times and Lisa and her Aunt (who traveled with her) had to push it along over sheer ice! “We didn’t know any better at the time. We thought that was what touring was all about and we had a great time regardless!” Lisa added, “It was probably a good way to start as, in hind sight, it couldn’t get worse than that, and it didn’t!” Subsequently her parents went on tour with her helping out generally and selling T-shirts! Her mother is still in charge of her fan club and her brother is her manager.
Just 16 years old, Lisa cut her first single in Canada which got quite a bit of air play. Then with an entrepreneurial attitude beyond her years she put together an album which she used for a shopping trip to the record companies in Nashville. She was signed to Capitol almost immediately on the strength of it. Lisa was traveling extensively so when the record company suggested she move to Nashville it seemed like just another stopping off point. Almost 12 years later, Nashville is now beginning to feel like home. Lisa attributes the change to the fact that she has made a group of really good friends there and that she is “growing up a little bit” now she has turned 30!
However things didn’t go all smoothly. Lisa left Capitol after a short period of time and signed with Sony but after a while it was mutually agreed that she would take a year off to refocus. Her life so far had moved at such a frantic pace that there had been little time to reflect and concentrate on her own personal development. Nevertheless, she was not one to relax and the year loomed vacantly ahead. So Lisa decided she would try her hand at songwriting. She had attempted writing a couple of songs in the past but hadn’t felt they were worthy of recording. It’s funny how life can bring you surprises …. this time around she started to think that “maybe I could do this”. This new way of expressing herself was a huge thing for her and word soon spread of her writing talents in the Nashville music circles. She was thrilled when Reba McEntire recorded ‘Secret’ and to learn that Terri Clarke has chosen another of Lisa’s songs for her upcoming new album. Tammy Cochran, Amanda Wilkinson, Suzy Bogguss & Billy Dean are among others who have also taken Lisa’s songs for their own. She is very humble about this success and still sounds surprised that her song writing should be flourishing this way. The unexpected discovery of her writing ability has brought her enormous pleasure and a real sense of achievement. However Lisa says that if she had to choose between writing and singing, she would choose singing. She told me that nothing can be better than getting on stage and hearing your voice soaring into the rafters. It is doubly rewarding when the lyrics are her own. In addition, Lisa is a talented musician playing rhythm guitar, keyboard and she is now learning the mandolin.
Lisa is also interested in acting and in 1993 played the starring role in Canadian-made movie ‘Harmony Cats’ and also featured on the soundtrack. She is now in the pilot for a new TV series to be shown on CMT. It’s called ‘Tyler Dean’ and is about a young boy trying to make it big in Nashville and the trials and tribulations he encounters and the people he meets along the way. Lisa being one of them!
All this talent culminated in Lisa being named CCMA’s Independent Female Artist in 2001-2003 inclusive and she is a multi-award winner at the BCCMA Awards. She has released six albums to critical acclaim and her latest has produced reviews such as the following from ‘Country Music News’, Aug. 05, “Lisa Brokop confirms her status as one of Cancountry’s premiere singer/ songwriters on Hey, Do You Know Me, co-writing no less than eleven of the songs on this impressive collection of ‘message’ driven material.” Lisa had heard about the line dance I had written to ‘One Bad Day’ from this album and was delighted to hear that dancers are enjoying her song. She told me that everybody always smiles and starts moving to ‘One Bad Day’. “After all”, she said, “Everyone has one bad day and then gets up, brushes themselves off and starts again!” When an audience responds in a lively way to a song, Lisa explained that they feed energy back to the performers and she loves it when people sing, dance or simply holler to her music!! You can certainly kick up your heels to ‘Wildflowers’, ‘Write a Book About Me’ and ‘Lime Green Pacer’ which reminds me of a rocking Wynona! ‘What I’d Miss’ is a good nightclub two step and ‘Paper, Rock, Scissors’ could fill the dance floor. Lisa’s writing shows great depth and emotional capacity as you will hear in the haunting ‘Hey Do You Know Me’, the romantic ‘Just a Girl’ and the empathetic ‘Pearl’. The strength and tenor of her voice also pull at your heart strings. Over the years Lisa feels that in her writing she has become more true to herself and the things that are important to her.
Lisa’s new single ‘Big Picture’ has just been released in the US and she is anticipating doing a big tour throughout Canada and the US. Hopefully she can then follow her dream to tour Europe and visit relatives living there and to also include a tour of the UK.
The future sounds exciting and full of possibilities for this impressive and charming young woman. Nevertheless, Lisa still has both feet firmly on the ground and asked me to let her fans know how much she appreciates their support and loyalty. She is always delighted when someone visits her website and leaves her a message. I left our conversation with the feeling that Lisa would be successful whatever road she followed but we are indeed fortunate that she chose the music business and we can enjoy her exciting talent.