Lisa Gerrard (born April 12, 1961) is an Irish-Australian musician, singer and composer who gained international renown as part of the music group Dead Can Dance together with Brendan Perry. Her career spans from 1981 to the present, and she has been involved in a wide range of projects. Gerrard received a Golden Globe award and her lyrics for the Hans Zimmer scored 2000 film Gladiator received an Academy Award nomination. She both sings and is instrumentalist for much of her work, most prolifically using the Yangqin (a Chinese hammered dulcimer).
Born 12 April 1961 in Melbourne, Australia, Lisa Gerrard grew up in the suburb of Prahran with her Irish immigrant parents. On her upbringing, she has said she grew up with "Mediterranean music blaring out of the houses," and that this influenced her music, particularly on later Dead Can Dance albums and in her solo and collaborative works.
Gerrard's first foray into forming bands and creative music-making was the highly experimental Little Band scene. It was at one of these little band events that she first met Dead Can Dance cofounder Brendan Perry. Perry recalls, "It never occurred to me that we would one day collaborate musically together because at the time I thought her music was too avant garde. I particularly remember one song that she sang about finding a man in the park and asking her mother if she could bring him home to keep in her wardrobe as she attacked this chinese dulcimer with two bamboo sticks."
Lisa Gerrard's vocals have been variously described as rich, jaw-dropping, deep, dark, mournful and unique. Her vocal range is contralto, spanning 1 note E3-F5 , (2 octaves). She extends into the dramatic mezzo-soprano range on The Host of Seraphim, Elegy, Space Weaver and Come This Way. Gerrard performs in the dramatic contralto range on the other songs, Sanvean, Sacrifice, Largo and Not Yet.
Gerrard sings many of her songs, such as Now We Are Free, Come Tenderness, Serenity, The Valley of the Moon, Tempest, Pilgrimage of Lost Children, Coming Home and Sanvean in an idioglossia (an idiosyncratic language) that she has developed since the age of twelve.
Dead Can Dance originally formed as a quartet in 1981 in Melbourne, but in 1982 moved to London with members Brendan Perry, Lisa Gerrard, and bass player Paul Erikson. Shortly after coming to England, Erikson flew back to Australia, leaving the band as a duo. Dead Can Dance recorded eight albums on the 4AD Records recording label beginning with the 1984 LP, Dead Can Dance. The band split in 1998, but reunited in 2005 for a world tour. In 1995 Gerrard recorded and released her first solo album The Mirror Pool. After the release of this album, she continued to work with Dead Can Dance, releasing their final album, Spiritchaser, in 1996. Following this, in 1998 she recorded Duality in collaboration with Pieter Bourke. This album would mark the beginning of an extensive collaboration together for a number of film scores, including The Insider and Ali. Gerrard began a new collaboration with Patrick Cassidy in 2004 with the release of Immortal Memory. Again, this collaboration was furthered in film work, including Salem's Lot.
The following year in 2005, Gerrard contributed to the Ashes and Snow Soundtrack. For the songs "Womb" and "Wisdom," Gerrard and Patrick Cassidy wrote and performed together. Gerrard's collaboration with Cassidy extended to include work with conductor Julie Rogers on the songs "Devota" and "Vespers."
In 2006, Sanctuary, a documentary about the life and work of Lisa Gerrard, was recorded and released in September 2006. It is the work of multi-skilled producer/director Clive Collier and features extensive interviews with Lisa Gerrard and various people who have collaborated and worked with her in the past including Michael Mann, Russell Crowe, Hans Zimmer, and Niki Caro. The documentary was released on DVD by Milan Entertainment on 24 April 2007.
In the same year, Lisa Gerrard released her second solo album The Silver Tree. This album was markedly different from her previous work and was also her first album released outside of 4AD Records. The album was first released on iTunes, with a wider physical release planned at a future date. The album was nominated for the Australian Music Prize for 2006. It is currently shortlisted as one out of nine of the best Australian albums. In 2007 a retrospective album The Best of Lisa Gerrard, a compilation of fifteen songs, was released covering her career in Dead Can Dance, solo work, and film work.
A world tour was undertaken in 2007 beginning in April in Melbourne, Australia. This tour marked the first time Lisa Gerrard had toured in Australia, with a performance in three cities. The tour was followed by performances in Europe and North America. More performances took place in Europe and Russia from 30 October to 22 November 2007. In November 2007, Lisa Gerrard collaborated with German electronic musician Klaus Schulze on the double-album Farscape. The album was released 27 July 2008 and was followed by a European tour.
In 2009 Lisa Gerrard completed work on the documentary by Australian adventurer Tim Cope called On the Trail of Genghis Khan and contributed her voice to the soundtrack, which began airing in 2010, of the Japanese NHK taiga drama Ryōmaden, a story based on the life of Sakamoto Ryoma. Also in 2009, Lisa Gerrard created her own record label, Gerrard Records, which, aside from being a conduit for the release of Gerrard's future works will also act to promote and support unrecognised artists of all genres. In September 2009, Gerrard and Klaus Schulze performed another tour in six European cities - Warsaw, Berlin, Amsterdam, Essen, Paris, and Brussels. This tour coincided with the release of Come Quietly, a joint project between Gerrard and Schulze that was released during the tour.
Lisa Gerrard released her third solo album, The Black Opal in October 2009. The album included collaboration with Michael Edwards, Patrick Cassidy, Pieter Bourke, and James Orr and was the first release to come from Gerrard Records.
In 2010 Gerrard released a new album with fellow composer Marcello De Francisci titled "Departum" from Gerrard Records which was followed by the release of three new singles; "Coming Home" - as featured in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole, "Entry" and "Come This Way".
Gerrard also collaborated with Prash Mistry from "Engine Earz Experiment" on a track titled "Spirit Guide" which will appear on his upcoming album in 2011.
On 1 December 2010 Gerrard capped off a busy 2010 with the release of a new soundtrack album with Cye Wood titled "The Trail of Genghis Khan" which contains music from the Gerrard/Wood score to the documentary TV series by Australian adventurer Tim Cope.
Lisa Gerrard's first experience in composing music for a film came with the 1989 Spanish film El Niño de la Luna, directed by Agustín Villaronga. The film score was composed by Dead Can Dance and the film featured Lisa Gerrard in her first acting role. El Niño de la Luna describes the story of David, a young orphan with special powers, escaping an institution with the help of a fellow institute inmate, Georgina, played by Lisa Gerrard.
Gerrard participated in a number of musical scores but came to fame as a film composer after recording The Insider in 1999, with Pieter Bourke, and Gladiator in 2000, with Hans Zimmer, which received an Academy Award nomination for best music score, although only Zimmer was nominated. It did, however, win a Golden Globe Award for both composers. Gerrard's score for the New Zealand independent film Whale Rider consisted entirely of solo material; a soundtrack album was released by 4AD.
In 2005 Gerrard collaborated with Ennio Morricone for Fateless followed by a collaboration with Jeff Rona on the score for the feature film "A Thousand Roads" and the song On an Ocean for the Henry Poole Is Here score. Gerrard along with Dead Can Dance also provided several contributions to the soundtrack of Baraka, a visual journey showcasing mankind's impact on our planet. Gerrard was also invited by Denez Prigent to collaborate with him on his piece "Gortoz a ran - J'attends" (meaning "I await"), a piece that was later used in the soundtrack of Ridley Scott's film Black Hawk Down.
In 2009 Lisa Gerrard wrote the score for Balibo, for which she won a Best Feature Film Score award at the 2009 APRA Screen Music Awards and an Aria Award for Best Original Soundtrack/Cast/Show Album at the 2009 Aria Awards. Gerrard finished 2009 by contributing her voice to the theme song for the Japanese NHK taiga drama Ryōmaden, which began airing in 2010.
In 2010 Gerrard completed the score for "Tears of Gaza" with Marcello De Francisci which was well received despite its controversial theme. Gerrard also scored the Jim Loach directed Oranges and Sunshine starring Emily Watson and Hugo Weaving released in April 2011.
In November 2010 Gerrard provided vocals and additional music for the post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller Priest scored by Christopher Young which was released in 2011.
Lisa Gerrard is married to graphic design artist/music producer Jacek Tuschewski, and has 2 children.