Photos by Juan Patino Photography
We caught up with Lisa Loeb in advance of an October performance at Mamaroneck’s Emelin Theatre to chat about the ’90s and what lies ahead.
It’s easy to label Lisa Loeb a star of the ’90s, but the truth is, she hasn’t gone anywhere. Currently beaming to television sets in a new GEICO commercial that references her “Stay (I Missed You)” stardom, the Grammy-winning musician, actor, and author has maintained a dizzying schedule balancing her family life, a musical career, acting appearances, an eyewear line, and a host of philanthropic efforts. This month, Loeb will be taking the stage on October 14 at Mamaroneck’s Emelin Theatre for her first tour since the pandemic.
“I want to play for people, and I am hoping — like other artists I have seen along the way who have encouraged their fans to wear masks, be vaccinated, and be safe — that my fans will do the same,” says Loeb. “I am really excited.”
This is, however, not Loeb’s most recent interaction with admirers. “I have been doing a multitude of live streams and concert appearances online, so I have really had a chance to connect with my fans virtually and, in some cases, very personally,” says Loeb. “But I am looking forward to actually having that energy of people in the room. I have a whole bunch of new songs that came out right before COVID hit, and I am excited to share those with a live audience.”
One notable way in which Loeb has been bonding with fans and collaborators alike has been Together Apart, a collection of 10 mini-musicals about living through the pandemic that she put together and cowrote with alumni from her alma mater, Brown University. “People are connecting with the musical in so many different ways,” shares Loeb. “Some people really see themselves and their own experience in the show and find comfort in that.”
Plus, proceeds from the musical go to a good cause. “We have donated over $35,000 so far to, and continue to raise money for, The Actors Fund,” she says. “We not only wanted to write a show that we were proud of and that told our stories, but one that also focused on and helped other people who had hard times during the pandemic or who were not able to work — people onstage, on-camera, and behind the scenes.”
The pandemic also changed the way Loeb views her own music. “Some of those songs that meant something to me in one way before the pandemic dropped down even deeper when the pandemic hit — messages about not letting small things get in your way, finding the beauty in life, and approaching life with wonder,” says Loeb. “But then these messages took on this whole other meaning because the day-to-day struggles were still there, on top of the pandemic, which, in some cases, made them even harder.”
Her most recent album, A Simple Trick to Happiness, was released in February 2020, just before the coronavirus began sweeping America. “Releasing a record right before the pandemic could have been a disaster except for the fact that everybody was at home, waiting to be entertained, waiting to connect with others,” Loeb recalls. “And there I was, with my computer and camera, and my microphone, able to perform really easily and connect with people all over the world.”
Ahead, Loeb plans to continue crafting songs that are close to her heart, as well as more of the children’s music for which she won a Grammy in 2018. “I have a new kids’ record I am in production on right now, although people might not hear it as a kids’ record when they listen to it,” says Loeb. “Much like my Lullaby Girl record, it was initially meant as an album of lullabies for kids but, when you listen to it, it’s really a great jazz combo, playing traditional songs with themes like nighttime, tomorrow, and dreams.”
“Releasing a record right before the pandemic could have been a disaster except for the fact that everybody was at home, waiting to be entertained, waiting to connect with others.”
Despite these achievements, Loeb doesn’t blame all those “Stay” devotees. “I love people continuing to connect with the music that they loved from the ’90s,” she says. “I am a very nostalgic person, so I understand people’s nostalgic connections. There are a few things I don’t understand people’s connections with, though, like why we cut mock turtlenecks and some of the sundresses we wore,” she adds with a laugh.
Yet, no matter what the future holds, Loeb is ready to embrace it. “I want to get out there. I’ve enjoyed my time at home with my family, having much more of a window into their education and their day-to-day lives since they have been at home so much,” notes Loeb, who is the mother of two children, Emet Kuli and Lyla Rose. “But I also try to balance that with being able to do what I love and play music on the road. So, I will continue along just trying to make the best decisions I can, depending on what the CDC says and what my family’s needs are.”