Q&ADCB: DCB:I had read an article in which it was written that Yusef Lateef was also a great influence.
AF: Was also influenced by Yusef because he was the one and only to play solo oboe on a recorded Jazz song. Oboe had only been used in the background, not as a solo instrument. Honestly, it was the oboe playing of Paul McCandless who changed my direction (Mother Lode - Loggins and Messina) more than any and Lateef and Kirk affirmed my mission to follow a different path. Listened to that album each day for about a year and a half, loved the way oboe was incorporated into a band. Also had heard an oboe in David Bowie's music which told me it was even possible to play Rock on oboe! : ^ ) DCB: At what point did you study with Bernstein, Previn and Ozawa?
AF: Leonard Bernstein, Andre Previn, Isaac Stern and Seiji Ozawa were conductors of orchestras I performed in. Technically I studied music with them as they were student orchestras and they were "teaching" us to play the masters or their own compositions. I did perform under many many fabulous conductors while studying oboe but those were the biggest names to date. DCB: You changed your musical direction to embrace Jazz, Reggae and R&B music. From these styles, you expanded your repertoire to also include Pop, Latin and Hip Hop. In a SoundClick article it says you met Keyboardist Jawge Hughes at Joe Higgs New Years Eve Show in 1998 and discovered that the both of you mutually knew many people in the Virgin Islands - Jawge from his living there and you from 10 years teaching in the school system there. From this meeting, the two of you became friends and in 2004 collaborated on the "Yin Yang" album. Before the recording of "Yin Yang", did you perform live together?
AF: Jawge Hughes really liked my Reggae version cover of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend" and contacted me after listening to my CD, "Renaissance In Formation" while I helped him get his debut CD, "Come On Back" completed (even added some cameo oboe). Jawge in turn started composing songs for "Yin Yang". Yes, we did perform live together quite a few times. At Reggae Clubs, and many events for the Jamaica Tourist Board with his sister, Eva Hughes, a steel pan virtuoso. We even performed at California Speedway in Fontana! I also carried Jawge on the Bob Marley Festival Tour 2000. One show in Houston, I brought the Fully Fullwood Band to back me. (Fully was both Bob Marley and Peter Tosh's bassie!) My love for Reggae started in the late 70's when I first heard Bob Marley while living in Boston. When my mother relocated to St. John, USVI in 1977, I made six visits there performing free concerts for the school children with a French hornist former member of Toronto Symphony who kept me busy while on vacation. The concerts paid off in that they wanted to hire me to cover the music classes on St. John when their Music Teacher had left. They even paid for me to return to school to get my teaching credential later. DCB: You are noted as being a universal musician who loves and plays many styles of music, but it appears that "Reggae" has a special place with you. How did this come about?
AF: When I fled to Hawaii, I wanted to write a song that would encourage others to break the silence on abuse. Reggae was the style that seemed most suitable. I also felt that the "Peace and One Love" of the movement as sung by Third World, Steel Pulse and others would embrace my lyrics and story whole heartedly in a way none other would. Reggae/Jawaiian was as popular in Hawaii as it had been in the Virgins. Actually, there was more Reggae on the radio in Hawaii so it was a natural choice. It was also a message for those I left behind without warning. Composing and recording was my salvation. It was all I had for healing through my post traumatic stress and trials with armed guards etc...thus the name change. DCB: Another article mentioned that Joe Higgs mentored you during the year before his death. How did you meet him and did you have an opportunity to perform with him?
AF:Joe Higgs had me at arms' length from the minute he met me and heard my music and story. He lived blocks away and had many plans for the future as his family will attest to. Only one problem, six months after we started working together (he wanted me to help him publicize his new album, "Black and Green" with Irish multi-talents Sharon Shannon and The Hot House Flowers) Joe's prostate cancer which had been in remission returned. Now, I was taking him for radiation treatments and bringing him juices. Unforeseen circumstances prevented his return to Ireland to mix his beautiful tracks which I understand from family are soon to be released. What energy they have! He DID take me on tour with him, his last actually up to the Bay Area but said we would add me at a later date. He never got better and died Dec 99. The family insisted I perform in Jamaica after they saw me play at the LA Memorial for him. It was in these two memorials where I performed with the most elite in Reggae, Judy Mowatt, Wailing Souls, Roger Steffens, Ras Michael, etc. The family continues to honor me with nominations and awards in Joe Higgs' name. Third World heard about this and wrote their own arrangement of Joe's song, "There's A Reward" with me in mind to play oboe from the start to honor the mentor and cousin to Toots Hibbert. On his deathbed, Bob Marley said, "Remember Joe Higgs!" It was Joe who did more to elevate Bob's career than any other. I was saddened by the fact he got so little reward for his generosity similar to what Trombonist/Arranger Melba Liston has done without accolades and decided to do everything I could to bring these unsung heroes/sheroes to light. DCB: You have a new CD with songs featured on your MySpace page. Can you tell us something about the music and who is performing with you on the tracks? I also saw the photo with you and violinist Karen Briggs on your MySpace page so know that she is one of the contributing performers.
AF: Trombonist/Arranger Rembert James was introduced to me by Darryl 'Munyungo' Jackson when I called him for a referral to help finish my studio. Munyungo, Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis' percussionist had invited me to his home for The Day after Thanksgiving Jam and that was where I met and jammed with Karen Briggs. Rembert whom Melba Liston called, "son" wanted me to help him get a foundation started in Melba's name to help youth through mentoring and scholarship. We decided to name it, "Let's Hold Hands" and the tracks you hear on myspace will be featured on the CD we plan to use a vehicle to raise awareness and funding for our cause. We have been rehearsing in the studio and plan to record more songs from this project in it as well. Karen has worked with Rembert and Munyungo many times so I am blessed as it was Rembert who arranged for her to come. Many Jazz musicians have welcomed me to perform with them and am invited to sit in with many groups when they hear I love to play, Horace Silver's"Song For My Father" on the oboe. Focusing on the new album, completion of the studio, starting the foundation, at this time we will begin rehearsals this week on the rest of the album. Musicians on album:
Anna Fisher - "FOCUS" (2009)It takes courage and a creative soul to see the world and hear the music. Sound can be a friend and foe to the fearful but beautiful collaborations only inspire us all to love and be better humans. The music you will experience on this album is exactly that, an experience. One that visits the familiar as well as new and exciting ways to make that familiarity shape and mold into sounds that soothe from different perspectives.
Click to read the liner notes by LeRoy Downs “The Jazz Cat” of KKJZ:
VIDEOS:Antonio's Song by Anna Fisher featuring Karen Briggs (Michael Franks)
I Remember by Anna Fisher
(Kevin Eubanks arr. B. Hammer and A. Fisher)