Lisa Hartt Arrival

Submitted by Don Graham

Cover Photo Credit: Michael Spillane

Canadian treasure Lisa Hartt is back on the airwaves with a moving tribute to her late brother, Christopher, with a song entitled “Don’t Tell Me How I Feel”. 

Watch and listen to “Don’t Tell Me How I Feel” on YouTube here:

The song is part of a 4-song EP titled “Arrival” about Lisa’s path to recovery. The project was conceived with veteran producer Juno Award Winner Chris Birkett of Sinead O’Connor and Buffy Sainte-Marie fame. The song tells the story of Lisa’s brother, Christopher and his struggles to be heard during the time he suffered on earth. The treatments for him took place during a time when heavy drugs and sedation were used and made it impossible for Christopher to be understood. He died in 2015. The song is written from his point of view but Lisa takes the part of the protagonist with the video created, produced and directed by Joan Prowse of Cinefocus. The timing of this opus is perfect with the focus on mental health and its recognition and treatment being more prominent than ever.

Lisa Harrt was born in Montreal and grew up in La Tuque and then relocated to Dorval where her parents lived for over 50 years until her Dad died in 2004. 

Lisa has been performing professionally since the age of ten singing on a commercial for Bob Hahn as part of the Dorval United Church Choir. She earned the total of $10.00 . “I was hooked from that point on. We lived in Dorval outside of the city and I would take the Greyhound Bus into downtown Montreal and catch the folk acts playing in town. I would go to Cafe Andre and by the time it closed the buses had stopped running so my Dad would drive in to pick me up, often times with his coat thrown over his pajamas. She asked her parents for a guitar and was given a Swedish made Goya guitar. 

Lisa’s first group was with Brian Wray on keyboards and Wayne Pilon on bass. Singing at open mics, she met like-minded young people and formed a Canadian Peter, Paul and Mary type group called “The Lonesome Valley Three” with Robert Guyot and Mike Wheatley playing  the circuit. “Cafe Andre was a real training ground for me and lot of Montreal acts. I would watch and learn from The Kingsmen and Guy Pillette and Bruce Davidson. 

Fast forward to her turning point group with Ken Tobias, Don Greene, Charlie Clark, Skip Layton, and Mike Waye called “The Crystal Staircase.” The band was patterned after the vocal groups of the day like The Association and The 5th Dimension with Ken Tobias providing the originals.

Fast forward again to The Lisa Hartt Band. That lineup was Lisa on guitar and vocals, Rayburn Blake lead and rhythm guitar and vocals, Denny Gerrard, bass and vocals, Richard Yuen, Keyboards and vocals and Marty Cordrey on drums and vocals. The band secured a record contract and worked with Phil Ramone on 3 songs and Ralph Murphy on 3. The group itself produced 3. The album almost didn’t get released but finally was under the name of “Starwatcher” in 1976. Rayburn’s song “Old Time Movie” was the 1st single and had great airplay right across Canada. Television, radio and print reviews were very generous, and Lisa was at her best. Coming full circle, The Lisa Hartt Band opened for Gino Vannelli at Massey Hall in 1976 and Lisa garnered a Juno nomination for most promising female singer for the “Starwatcher “ album. 

The next year found Lisa recording 3 songs in New York on the cast album of Rockabye Hamlet with Ralph Murphy in New York. Then television followed with a wonderful CBC Super Special with Anne Murray, Phoebe Snow, Marilyn McCoo, Lisa Dal Bello, Lisa Hartt, Shirley Eikhard and so many more fabulous women singers called “Ladies Night.” Anne debuted her famous song “You Needed Me” on this show.

Lisa feels that it is her birthright and everyone’s birthright to sing so she studied for 3 years and earned a certificate as a Sound Practitioner with Gary Diggins, became a Reiki Master, and using her voice, world instruments, and Reiki she is also now fostering wellness in people who are loving the sonic baths she provides. The desire to share her music as a solo project crept upon her slowly as the wonderful writers and songsmith started to die in the last few years. Using the adage, “don’t die while the song is still in you” Lisa gathered up her courage and started to come out and sing slowly adding her voice to the singer songwriters in Toronto.

As a legacy artist Lisa is committed to singing for as long as she is able, bringing her originals and uplifting spiritual songs and other Canadian music to the fore again acoustically and most of all, lifting people’s spirits with song.

“Don’t Tell Me How I Feel” is the first single and video release from the forthcoming EP “Arrival”.