Originally from Concord, Massachusetts, it has been written that Anna
began learning music from birth. Her father was a child prodigy pianist and MIT
Physicist. Her gravitation to music was a natural transition, as was her career
as an educator - her mother was a teacher.
Anna has "always had a love for the classics" and
has studied with legendary classical musicians - Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern
and Seiji Ozawa during her musical career. She has studied music her
entire life in her quest to be the best at what she does.
She studied oboe with Ira Deutsch of the Boston Symphony New
England Conservatory Preparatory Division and Boston Ballet Orchestras. She also studied
with John Holmes (also of the Boston Symphony) at the Boston University School of Music.
She received her Bachelor of Music degree in oboe and English horn from the North
Carolina School of the Arts, and a Masters Degree in Educational Leadership from National University.
Her musical roots are in the classics, but she said this changed after seeing Rassan
Roland Kirk perform; "Actually it was Rasaan Roland
Kirk's last concert (he died within two hours of the show) while attending
Indiana University's School of Music in Bloomington in 1977. He was
improvising with just a few fingers from each hand after a stroke and it was so
and yet so deep! Thought you had to play lots of notes to improvise and Kirk
proved otherwise that minimalism was sweeter".
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.
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 this album so far:
Anna Fisher - English horn
Rembert James - Trombone
Karen Briggs - Violin
Richard Grant - Trumpet
George Harper - Saxophone
Woodrow 'Onaje' Murray - Vibraphone
Harold Land, Jr. - Piano
Nate Morgan - Piano
John Rangel - Piano
Carlitos del Puerto - Bass
Nedra Wheeler - Bass
Jeff Littleton - Bass
Trevor Ware - Bass
Derf Reklaw - Percussion
Leon Mobley - Percussion
Darryl 'Munyungo' Jackson - Percussion
Kharon Harrison - Drums
Marcus Miller - Drums
Cedric Anderson - Drums
ADDENDUM: 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:
VIDEO: Antonio's Song
by Anna Fisher featuring Karen Briggs (Michael Franks)