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Grammy-winner Lisa Fischer will bring her band to Port Washington’s Landmark

Lisa Fischer and her band, Grand Baton, will

Lisa Fischer and her band, Grand Baton, will perform in Port Washington. Credit: Getty Images / Jamie McCarthy

Lisa Fischer is OK with the world not knowing her name.

The Grammy-winning Brooklyn native isn’t interested in boosting her social-media profile. She isn’t working on generating more Spotify streams for her music or for her group, Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton, which will play at Landmark on Main Street in Port Washington on Sunday. She is all about the music. It’s a philosophy Fischer, 58, has had her entire 35-year career, whether she is delivering her own songs, like the No. 1 R&B hit “How Can I Ease the Pain,” from 1991, or touring with the Rolling Stones to deliver “Gimme Shelter.” And it’s one that was highlighted in the Oscar-winning documentary “Twenty Feet From Stardom,” as it showcased the importance of backing singers, including Fischer.

“Serving the music, having a purpose is important,” says Fischer, calling from her Manhattan home. “Everything leaves a mark. Whether it’s a day working 9 to 5 or parents trying to be there for their kids, it feels good to do a good job. In that sense, we are all background singers.”

It’s that belief that has earned her plenty of praise from those who work with her. She got a break as a solo artist after the late Luther Vandross, whom she had been backing, introduced her to his manager. “He was just giving me paternal notes and brotherly support on my demos,” she says. “I never felt like I was chasing anything. Like with everything I do, I was just going by what felt right in the moment.”

What feels right for her, though, has felt right for plenty of artists, from Tina Turner to Dolly Parton, whom she has backed on the road.

“Lisa’s as powerful as the rest of the guys put together,” says Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, whom Fischer has backed since 1989. “She has an amazing power, energy and projection. She really kills it.”

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Fischer says that she approaches all her assignments in the same way. “Whenever I’m singing anything, I’m so present in the moment,” she says. “When you are singing support for someone, you are saying, ‘I’ve got you. I’m holding it down as best as I can.’ ”

In the four years she has been singing with Grand Baton, the music is still the boss. Along with guitarist JC Maillard, drummer Thierry Arpino and bassist Aidan Carroll, Fischer reinterprets classics from rock and a variety of genres, joking that they aren’t “arranging” them, but “deranging” them.

“We are willing to try anything musically,” she says. “They have a beautiful way of listening to each other and from singing backgrounds, I’ve always been listening to other singers. . . . It’s like having other singers, only they play music.”

With Grand Baton, “Gimme Shelter” often takes on a Middle Eastern feel and Peggy Lee’s “Fever” becomes a Grateful Dead jam. “We go into different languages, different sounds, different layers of music,” Fischer says. “It’s this enormous sense of freedom. When you’re a background singer, there’s a target that’s very clear that you have to hit. With this, you just have to really be open to the music. It’s a new place for myself. It’s so much fun. Everything can change in a split second.”

She says the improvisation is thrilling. “You know what’s coming with these songs,” Fischer says. “You know the melody. I know what I’m supposed to sing, but it depends on what my heart is saying at that moment. You end up hearing it in a different way.”

Fischer says it’s similar to what she has seen with the Stones over the years. “If you listen to them perform now, it’s different than it was 10 years earlier,” she says. “The band has found another version of itself. They are constantly reinventing themselves, still using the bones of the original songs, but the songs have grown up with them. It’s a cool thing to witness. . . . It’s a matter of what arrow they pull out as a way to get to each person’s heart. It’s all art.”

Fischer has a growing quiver of arrows herself. In addition to touring with the Stones and now Grand Baton, she has been part of projects with Yo-Yo Ma and The Alonzo King LINES Ballet.

“It’s very different,” she says of the ballet “The Propelled Heart,” which will have a run in San Francisco in November and one in Paris next year. “There are more spirits and bodies onstage that you are in tandem with. I feel like I’m part of a living photograph and that my voice is an instrument that is weaving around the dancers.”

As different as the experience is, though, the focus remains music.

“It really is about the song and the expression,” Fischer says. “I know I’m on different planets with some people in the music business, talking about sales and other things. I’m interested in the exchange of experiences and what I can contribute to that exchange. The main question is: ‘Does it touch someone?’ ”

WHO Lisa Fischer & Grand Baton

WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15, Landmark on Main Street, 232 Main St., Port Washington

INFO $38-$48; 516-767-6444,


Though the Oscar-winning 2013 documentary “Twenty Feet From Stardom” introduced Lisa Fischer to many, her performances have been captured on film for decades. Here are the most memorable:

SHINE A LIGHT (2008) Fischer has done backing vocals for the Rolling Stones for more than two decades. But her moment to shine always comes with “Gimme Shelter” and Martin Scorsese captured it in all its glory in this documentary.

TINA LIVE (2009) Fischer keeps up with the great Tina Turner throughout this concert film, but steps into the spotlight at the end of “It’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll,” taking the baton from Turner and bringing the classic home.

THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE (2016) Yo-Yo Ma turns the simple classic “Heart and Soul” into something lush and complex, with Fischer and Gregory Porter delivering gorgeous, intertwining vocals.


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