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Lisa Stansfield

Lisa Stansfield

Born Lisa Jane Stansfield in the Greater Manchester town of Heywood, England, she was the second of three daughters by Keith and Marion Stansfield, who encouraged all of their children to enter singing and dancing competitions as children. At the age of 14, Stansfield won a talent contest that led to her television debut on England's Granada TV and subsequent hosting duties on the children's series "Razzamatazz" (ITV, 1981-87). With school friends Ian Devaney and Andy Morris, she formed Blue Zone, which was known as Blue Zone UK outside of England due to a dispute with a similarly named American act. They scored a minor U.S. hit with their fourth single, "Jackie" (1988), but found greater success by rearranging their lineup with Stansfield as a solo vocalist and Devaney and Morris as her writer-producers. Her solo career began as a guest vocalist on Coldcut's "People Hold On" (1989), a Top 20 hit on the U.K. singles chart that also rose to No. 6 on the U.S. Dance Club Play chart. The success of the single convinced Blue Zone's label, Arista, to sign Stansfield as a solo artist. Her debut in this regard, 1989's Affection, achieved double platinum status in the United States on the strength of the sultry, Grammy-nominated "All Around the World" and "You Can't Deny It," both of which topped the R&B charts, with the former also reaching the top of the U.K. singles chart that same year. "All Around the World" also entered Stansfield into the music record books as the fifth female singer in history to top the Billboard R&B chart, placing her in the company of Lesley Gore and Teena Marie.The following year, Stansfield showed the breadth of her talents with a traditional jazz rendition of Cole Porter's "Down in the Depths" for the Red Hot + Blue charity disc. She would soon alternate pop and R&B offerings with jazz tracks on various compilations and soundtracks, including "The Wedding Planner" (2001) and "Mona Lisa Smile" (2003). After claiming the BRIT Music Award for Best British female solo artist in 1991 and 1992, Stansfield released her second solo CD, Real Love (1992). The album generated four Top 40 singles, including "All Woman," which became her third single to top the U.S. R&B charts. She then teamed with the surviving members of Queen and George Michael for a 1992 performance at Wembley Stadium to benefit the Mercury Phoenix Trust, a charity organization named after late Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury that assisted AIDS research. A resulting EP, Five Live, topped the U.K. charts that year. She also capped the year by contributing the Top 10 single "Someday (I'm Coming Back)" to the massively successful Bodyguard soundtrack. In 1993, Stansfield married her longtime musical partner Devaney, shortly before releasing her third album, So Natural (1994). The album continued the downward trend of her music in the United States, where it failed to secure a release, but also preserved her star status in the U.K. and Europe, where it rose to No. 6 on the British albums chart with three Top 40 singles.Stansfield then took a three-year hiatus from recording, during which Morris left their songwriting partnership. She and Devaney were subsequently joined by singer-songwriter Richard Darbyshire, who collaborated on her 1997 self-titled album. It produced three Top 10 European singles, including a cover of Barry White's "Never Never Gonna Give You Up," which topped the U.S. Dance Club Play chart. A remix of "People Hold On" followed suit in the States, as did "Never Gonna Fall" and "I'm Leavin'." Stansfield then shifted her focus to acting for the next few years, receiving solidly positive reviews for her leading role in the 1999 romantic comedy "Swing," which featured Stansfield singing a stellar collection of jazz standards and soul hits. The 1999 soundtrack shot to No. 6 on the U.S. jazz charts. Two years later, she starred in a West End production of "The Vagina Monologues," while also releasing her fifth solo album, Face Up (2001), which reached the bottom of the U.K. Top 40, despite uniformly positive reviews. In 2003, the greatest hits compilation Biography, which rose to No. 3 on the strength of a potent advertising campaign and subsequent tour, marked the end of her 18-year association with Arista. Her relationship with Trevor Horn's ZTT Records would only last a year, as her debut for the label, The Moment (2004), was regarded as a failure due to it rising no higher than No. 54 on the U.K. albums chart. She returned to acting opposite Keira Knightley in the British drama "The Edge of Love" (2008) before announcing a new album, tentatively titled Seven, for release in 2013. By Paul Gaita
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