Lisa Loeb a triple threat as children’s musician, author and entrepreneur
May 08, 2019
Special To the Star
Though she’s known for her chart-topping hit “Stay (I Missed You)” and Feel What U Feel, her 2017 Grammy-winning collection of children’s music, “Renaissance woman” may be a more apt description of singer and songwriter Lisa Loeb.
Loeb, who is performing three shows at the Toronto Centre For the Arts’ George Weston Recital Hall May 17 (7 p.m.) and 18 (1 p.m., 3 pm.) as part of The Uptown International Children’s Festival has enjoyed an extremely diversified career.
The Los-Angeles based artist has also dabbled in acting in TV and film (Gossip Girl, Fright Night), has engaged in voiceover work for MTV’s Spiderman: The New Animated Seriesand The Rugrats Movieand once hosted her own Food Network series with boyfriend-at-the-time Dweezil Zappa back in 2004.
She’s also authored of a couple of kids’ CD books and has provided the music for the animated Emmy-nominated Amazon series If You Give A Mouse A Cookie for thepast three years.
There’s the line of Lisa Loeb eyewear and a charity-driven coffee brand that helps funds her Camp Lisa Foundation, which sends kids to summer camp.
How busy is she?
“There’s a lot of things that I’m interested in and a lot of conversations going on in different places about a lot of things I don’t want to talk about until they’re happening, ” discloses the 51-year-old mother of two over the line.
Many of those things arguably might not be happening if it weren’t for “Stay (I Missed You),” which was added to the soundtrack of the mid-90s rom com Reality Bites 25 years agoand sailed to the top of the charts without Loeb officially attached to a record company.
Hence, it put her in the driver’s seat when it came to negotiations.
“I’d been working on a record deal for a couple of years out of college and it was amazing: all the people who were kind of interested from record companies suddenly became very interested,” she recalls. “It was a really big deal. The song became an international hit and it made such a huge impact for me being able to connect with people all over the world. It still resonates today with people – they sing it to me when I see them at airports. And to have a song in a movie is one of the best ways for people to ever hear music.”
Her initial foray into children’s music came at the behest of the powerful Barnes & Noble U.S. book chain.
“Years ago, Barnes & Noble asked if I would make a record for them that was different from my regular records, because they were experimenting with putting out records themselves, “ Loeb explains. “I’d always wanted to do kids’ music more out of nostalgia for my own childhood than anything else: I wanted to incorporate songs and stories and things that were silly and heartfelt and inspired by things like Sesame Street or the Marlo Thomas record Free To Be, You and Me – and some of the old variety shows like Sonny & Cher and Carol Burnett.
“It went really well and I got a really good response from my fans, so I just continued on in that direction.“
Her 14-album career is a mixture of what she calls “grown-up” music and “family-friendly” and the younger-fare projects have included nursery rhymes and summer camp songs.
And Loeb says she has a slightly different mindset when it comes to creating music for youth.
“The things with the kids’ music is that it’s helped me focus,” she says. “I’m always writing songs. so anytime I’d get 14 or 15 songs finished, I’d make a record. I put together a collection as I’m writing, whereas my kids projects, I try to write songs that will fit into a theme.”
Although her concert on the 17th is a “grown-up” concert while the two afternoon matinees on the 18th are “family-friendly,” Loeb concedes that she mixes and matches her material for both formats because “there are a lot of people who want to hear those songs: parents and kids alike.”
As for her trademark eyewear look, Loeb says she used to be concerned about being known for wearing glasses for fear that image would distract from her music.
“Journalists would often ask me about my glasses and sometimes they wouldn’t even get around to my music,” she recalls.
‘But people have told me the impact it made on them to wear glasses while I was on TV and was comfortable with it, so I embrace that now.
“I love glasses. I need glasses. I want women to look beautiful and feel confident wearing them, so being able to work with designers and come up with frames and looks that help people feel great and more confident in their own skin is amazing.
“Things are so different. Today, it’s cool to wear glasses.”