LISA PAGE BROOKS
I think it’s safe to say that Lisa Page Brooks has made her mark in the Gospel industry that is undeniably unforgettable. I would even go as far to say that she’s a legend. (Am I making it sound like she’s dead?? SHE’S NOT! Lol) Nervous, excited, anxious and a few butterflies was everything I was feeling as I prepared for this interview. Lisa’s highly anticipated, long over due, new solo release “Stronger,” hits stores everywhere October 20, 2009. Once I heard the new album was on the way, I made it a top priority to sit down with the woman I grew up listening to and have admired from her days with the pioneering Contemporary Gospel group Witness.
Let’s go back to the days of Witness…how old were you when you joined the group?
We started in 1986 and I was only 23 years old. My husband Michael Brooks actually started Witness for his sister Tina. He had the idea of putting together a female version of Commissioned. One day I got a phone call from a friend and he wanted me to come and sit in on one of the group’s rehearsals. I showed up and the rest is history.
Did the group always plan to go after a record deal?
Knowing my husband, I think he knew Commissioned would open the door for us. I’m sure he wanted to take us to the next level. We got our first record deal over the phone and everything happened very quickly.
The album “We Can Make a Difference” really put the group on the map. Was that the group’s first album?
“We Can Make a Difference” was actually our third project. “Keep Lookin Up” was our first CD and the second was “I’ve Come Too Far.” When “We Can Make a Difference” came out we were signed to“Polygram,” which was a major label at the time and they put a lot of dollars behind us. We did quite a few things and the press was even greater.
Were you still working a regular job at this time?
Yes, I was working in a grocery store. It was funny because one day as I was scanning groceries and a phone call came in for me. It was our management and they said, “You guys are flying to New York to shoot a video.” That was literally my last day of scanning groceries.
How was it being in a group with women that you really didn’t know that well?
It was not all good all the time. I’d be lying if I said it was. I knew Tina, who is now my sister-in-law, but I didn’t know the other two girls. We had to learn one another, but you spend so much time on the road together you are kind of forced to get to know each other. You have different personalities coming together, but we knew we had a purpose and we wanted to act Christian towards each other. We always had prayer once a week, so we could come together and just communicate with each other. It wasn’t always easy, but we had to make sure we kept everything in line of what God wanted us to do. It’s been twenty plus years, so there were definitely times when Michael had to be the referee.
Was it hard dealing with the different member changes?
Yeah, it could be difficult at times. Our first two members left because they wanted to go on and pursue their solo ministries. I think they thought they may have been better on their own. But you have to understand that this is a business. I don’t suggest you the play the game, but you have to understand what everything is all about. There were times when some felt like they were entitled to something that they really weren’t. If you’re promoting a new project you will be away from your family and traveling a lot. Now, you may not be bringing home a check all the time and if you don’t understand that, then you will feel cheated. But, when you understand the business and realize you have to do some things to advance your career, then you’re better equipped to know why things are happening the way they are. I know I was put on this earth to sing. That is God’s purpose for me. When you know that, everything else is secondary. Of course you’ll be concerned, but you won’t worry about trivial things because you know God will open the door.
How did Michael Brooks go from being your boss to being your husband?
We were always friends. I can’t really tell you when it blossomed. We will celebrate 13 years in January. What really stood out to me is that he really loves God and is just a nice person. I needed that at that time and it just came together. Now we are pastoring and impacting people’s lives together and I’m just so thankful to God for Michael. If you are ever in Detroit, come by “Restoration Fellowship Church International.”
Did that cause any jealousy and dissension in the group after you and Michael got together?
I wanted to make the girls understand that I was still Lisa and nothing had changed. I felt it was my responsibility to make them feel comfortable.
Do you ever feel like Witness ever got the recognition they really deserved?
On the natural side, there are some places and things that Witness should have done that the label didn’t do to market us. But God has shown us so much favor too! On the spiritual side, I still receive calls and letters from people telling me how much our music has encouraged them and brought them through difficult struggles. My take is, you never arrive or plateau, because it’s not about us. As long as we continue to touch lives, our purpose never stops. Sure, some of the labels could have done more to benefit us, but we were nominated for a Grammy twice, so that’s nothing to look down on.
How come Witness never worked with any different producers?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Everybody has their camp. I also think some people are intimidated by my husband’s success. They say they will send music to submit for the projects, but then it never comes! It was never the plan to just work with Michael, but that’s how it has worked out.
What made you go solo?
I was pushed into my first solo project. The company kept bugging my husband and me about doing a solo CD. I was like, “who wants to listen me for 12 songs??” I didn’t think I was ready either. I loved singing with Witness and I was comfortable with that. Gradually as time went on I began to embrace the idea and now I’m grateful for my solo projects.
Tell me about your new project “Stronger.”
I am so excited about my new project. It will be released October 20th, so I encourage everyone to go out and get it! If I had to describe this CD, I would say it’s very versatile and traditional. We experimented with a lot of different sounds and I just can’t wait for everyone to hear what I’ve been working on. It’s still Lisa Page Brooks. You’re always going to get that. But I think there is something on the CD for everyone.
Do you ever go back and listen to your older music?
Every blue moon I’ll go back and listen to one of my CD’s or I’ll be with someone and they’ll put some of my music on. My husband is an amazing songwriter, so sometimes I’ll go back to listen to the lyrics because they really minister to me. Sometimes I tease my husband and say, “Am I really married to Michael Brooks of Commissioned.”
Is there going to be another Witness album?
Yes there is. We are going to do a live album, so that should be fun. I’m also writing a book about my life that I am very excited about. Hopefully that will be out sometime next year.
What is the most difficult part about the Gospel industry?
The most difficult part is a toss up between going out and pouring into people and walking in integrity. We have a responsibility to be examples of what we sing about. We just have to stay in God’s favor. As artists, when God opens doors for us we have a responsibility to be a living example. Something about us should be different as we minister to people. I’m all about shopping and looking good and showmanship, but at the same time there has to be some red lights. I’m a minister. I have to try not to conform to your lifestyle, but come to you and expose who I am and whose I am.
Lisa Page Brooks’ 20 Random Truths
- Favorite Movie? “The Untouchables.”
- Favorite restaurant? “J. Alexander’s.”
- Last book you’ve read? “Understand the Purpose and Power of Prayer” by Myles Monroe.
- Who’s a better driver you or your husband? I am!
- Where did Michael propose to you? A jewelry store.
- What kind of toothpaste do you use? Colgate with mint strips.
- Dog or cats? Dog.
- Favorite candy bar? Hershey w/ almonds.
- Favorite Witness album? “Love is an Action Word.”
- Favorite cartoon? “The Jetsons.”
- Cosby Show, Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Good Times or The Jeffersons? “The Cosby Show.”
- J. Moss, Marvin Sapp, Daryl Coley or John P. Kee? Daryl Coley.
- Favorite Christmas song? “The Christmas Song.”
- Can you change a tire? No, I don’t think so.
- Which one of your kids is most like you? Tia. My middle child.
- One artist you want to do a duet with? Phil Collins.
- Dorinda Clark Cole, CeCe Winans, Vickie Winans or Vanessa Bell Armstrong? CeCe Winans.
- Guilty pleasure? Shopping for shoes.
- The View, Oprah or Dr. Phil? “The View.”
- Favorite Bible verse? 2 Corinthians 2:14.