She's a New Orleans evacuee with Toledo roots whose bawdy style has been described as somewhat of a hybrid of rock legend Janis Joplin and blues great Billie Holiday.
But Lisa Lynn, who had just started getting comfortable in her role as a fixture in the Crescent City's famed French Quarter before Hurricane Katrina hit, didn't follow a conventional path to success as a jazz singer.
The South Toledo native would have burst out laughing if somebody had suggested upon her graduation from St. Ursula Academy in 1987 that she eventually would earn a living singing in a city that has traditionally been one of North America's greatest jazz meccas.
But that's what has happened to the friendly, unpretentious woman who has called New Orleans home for the past 10 years.
"For some reason I had it in my head and heart that I wanted to be in New Orleans," Lynn said, explaining that she had never even visited the city prior to moving there in 1995.
A lot of things have happened since her arrival as an awestruck newcomer.
Her ex-husband, pianist Stu Crawford, recognized her unique style. He helped get her gigs, she said. Lynn had one CD to her credit and was in the process of finishing her second when Hurricane Katrina hit, forcing her to join the legions of evacuees.
She first tried waiting out the storm with friends in Hattiesburg, Miss. Though it's only 90 miles from New Orleans, it turned out to be a grueling seven-hour drive. After a few days, she continued north to be with her parents in the Toledo area.
Following her performance at Murphy's Place tomorrow night, Lynn plans to head back south for New Orleans via stops in Memphis and St. Augustine, Fla. She has at least one gig lined up along the way and hopes to land others.
She is committed to being back in New Orleans no later than Nov. 1, to pick up where she left off in the French Quarter.
Lynn's performance tomorrow night will actually be her first in Toledo as a professional solo act.
She got serious about singing a year or two after graduating from St. Ursula, when she was a 19-year-old barmaid at the former Ragtime Rick's tavern in South Toledo.
Owner Rick Grafing would stay after hours with her at various intervals during her three years there, giving her pointers and building her confidence. Eventually, she sat in with a few local acts, including Eddie Abrams when he performed at the former Rusty's Jazz Cafe in South Toledo and the Griswolds when they performed at the former Theo's Restaurant on Summit Street, near downtown, she said.
When the New Orleans bug bit her, it wasn't just for the singing career. Lynn, who graduated from the University of Toledo in 1995, was an English major who specialized in creative writing. Her dual purpose for heading off to the Crescent City was to enroll in the master of fine arts program for creative writing at the University of New Orleans.
Lynn said her admiration for jazz and blues includes greats such as Etta James and Bessie Smith. "They knew how to deliver a song," she said. "I want people to feel the same way about me."
Jazz vocalist Lisa Lynn will perform three shows tomorrow night at Murphy's Place, 151 Water St. in downtown Toledo. The first show begins at 9 p.m. Times for the other two have yet to be determined. Tickets are $10 and $15. Information: 419-241-7732.
Contact Tom Henry at: firstname.lastname@example.org