Performance Saturday, November 17, 2012 | 10 PM

Lisa Marie Presley

Zankel Hall
In the public eye since before she was even born, Lisa Marie Presley reclaimed her musical roots on her recent album Storm & Grace—an Americana-inspired showcase for her songwriting talent and smoldering alto voice hailed as "the album she was born to make" by Rolling Stone, infused with "raw, powerful country, folk, and blues." The singer-songwriter performs selections from this release and more.

This concert is part of Late Nights at Zankel Hall.


  • Lisa Marie Presley


  • Lisa Marie Presley

    With all the hoopla that has surrounded her, it's easy to forget that Lisa Marie Presley is at heart a simple Southern girl whose earliest musical memories are of obsessively listening to 45s in her bedroom at Graceland and of her dad catching her singing into a hairbrush in front of a mirror at the age of three.

    The Memphis-born Presley reclaims those roots on her new album Storm & Grace-an Americana-inspired showcase for her songwriting talent and smoldering alto voice. Produced with elegant restraint by 12-time Grammy Award winner T-Bone Burnett, Storm & Grace is a marked departure from Presley's previous albums-2003's To Whom It May Concern and 2005's Now What, which both debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard's Top 200 chart. "I love those songs, but I think I was hiding behind a lot of sonic layers because it was scary to go out there," Presley says. "It's easier to bury yourself in the noise so you don't stand out. This album [Storm & Grace] is a lot more stripped-down and naked, both musically and lyrically."

    Presley's previous albums did, however, enable her to work through the rebelliousness she was feeling when she launched her career as a singer-songwriter in 2003. "I was angry at all that I was potentially up against-all the expectations-and I was puffing myself up as a protective mechanism," she says. "At the same time, I was being pushed by the team around me to be a pop star and to do all these crazy things that I really didn't want to do."

    After completing a well-received tour to support Now What, Presley retreated from the music industry, relocating to the English countryside with her husband and young twin daughters, and shedding the people and things she felt had demoralized her. "I got rid of a lot of the toxicity around me, but I also lost a lot of my drive and love for songwriting," she says. "The creativity was kind of wrung out of me."

    Not wanting to abandon her craft, and after gentle prodding from her new manager Simon Fuller, Presley agreed to sit down with some new songwriting collaborators, who included three Brits: Sacha Skarbek (who's written with Adele and Jason Mraz, among others), and singer-songwriters Ed Harcourt and Richard Hawley. "There was no agenda," she says. "I wasn't trying to write a hit or to please any particular audience. I was just enjoying the process of being creative with great people who really love music."

    Taken as a whole, Storm & Grace is an unflinchingly honest piece of work from this songwriter, who, though known for her tough frankness, has managed to create a tender, consoling thread that runs throughout the album. For Presley, its conciliatory theme grew out of wanting to have peace in her life after a period of turmoil and letting go of what no longer suited her. "There were a few years there where everything around me had fallen apart," she says. "All the things that had become my foundation were gone and I had to shed a lot of skin. I found myself really vulnerable afterward and that's what birthed the album's vibe. It's me without any attitude or anger at a time of rediscovery."

    Impressed with Presley's songs, Fuller sent the demos to producer and musician T-Bone Burnett, who is known for his work with such artists as Alison Krauss and Robert Plant, B.B. King, Willie Nelson, Elton John and Leon Russell, and scores of others. "I got a call that T-Bone really liked them and wanted to meet with me," Presley says. "When I saw him, he said, 'I don't want to do a big song and dance. I really like the record and I'd love to produce it.'"

    "When Lisa Marie's songs arrived, I was curious," Burnett says. "I wondered what the daughter of an American revolutionary music artist had to say. What I heard was honest, raw, unaffected, and soulful. I thought her father would be proud of her. The more I listened to the songs, the deeper an artist I found her to be. Listening beyond the media static, Lisa Marie Presley is a Southern American folk music artist of great value."

    "I'm compelled to do this because I'm a music lover, and I feel that music is so important in the world," Presley says. That's what drives me-pouring your heart and soul into something and hoping that it can change someone's life in some way. I'm looking forward to performing live and interacting with people who are there for the music and nothing else. Getting that instant reaction is the best part."

    More Info


Lisa Marie Presley performs "Weary" from her album Storm & Grace, live at WFUV.

Lisa Marie Presley performs "Storm of Nails" from her album Storm & Grace, live at WFUV.

$10 student rush tickets are available in the mezzanine.
Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with WFUV.
This performance is part of WFUV Live.

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