Lisa Gutkin - shortest bio

Grammy- winning fiddler and songwriter Lisa Gutkin of the Klezmatics has appeared on Sex and the City and with Sting, sings her original Americana songs on her new EP "From Here On In" and is co-composer and on-stage musician in the upcoming Broadway show: INDECENT.

Lisa Gutkin - short bio

Can one artist be both unpredictable and a surefire bet? If that artist is Lisa Gutkin, the answer is an emphatic yes!

Grammy-winning songwriter Lisa Gutkin is best known as violinist and vocalist for the  Klezmatics, for her appearance in Sex and the City, for her work with Sting in his Broadway production "The Last Ship," and most recently as co-composer and on stage musician for Paula Vogel's award winning play "INDECENT," which heads to Broadway in Spring 2017.  A masterful musician and creative force in the Klezmatics for more than a decade, Lisa's technique and emotionalism have resided at the core of the band’s sound. But fans who have only witnessed her within the context of the Klezmatics have experienced just a fragment of what this multi-faceted artist is capable of producing. On her recent EP release, "From Here On In," produced by John Lissauer, Lisa sings her original Americana songs, backed by her fiddle and tenor guitar and a host of wonderful musicians.

Lisa Gutkin - extend for medium bio

Lisa has been called "one hot fiddler" by Cyndi Lauper, the L.A. Times dubbed her lead vocals "hauntingly emotional", and Pete Seeger described her song “Gonna Get Through This World," which she composed with the lyrics of Woody Guthrie, as “a piece of genius." Lisa is a musical wanderer who has played Argentinean tango and Italian Renaissance music, in rock and jazz bands, and with a variety of symphonies. She was a founding member of the downtown Celtic group Whirligig, a long standing member of house band of the Fast Folk Songwriter's Collective with Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin and Richard Shindell, and has composed for film and television and appeared on The Conan O'Brien Show, Prarie Home Companion, World Cafe, Mountain Stage, BBC, PBS, ARD in Germany, TVP in Poland, etc. She leads fiddle styles workshops, master classes and artist residencies, and has teamed with such diverse artists as Natalie Merchant, Peter Knight of Steeleye Span, Jane Siberry, Elizabeth Swados, The Demolition String Band, The Speakeasy String Quartet, Tommy Sands, John Whelan, Cathie Ryan, Pete Seeger and Theodore Bikel.

Lisa has released an instructional DVD with tsimbl player Pete Rushefsky called "Play Klezmer Fiddle!" on Homespun Tapes, was commissioned to write music for the Mabou Mines production "Song for New York," and awarded a fellowship at the MacDowell Artist Colony. Her songs have been recorded by Susan McKeown, and her composition "Waiting, Still" has been played by the Jena and other symphony orchestras in Europe.

In her latest venture as soloist and band leader, Lisa might swing seamlessly from Klezmer to traditional Irish fiddle tunes to blues, Balkan or Appalachian sounds. Or she might put the violin down altogether, pick up a tenor guitar and sing one of her own universally resonant songs. Wherever she goes, Gutkin has an uncanny way of taking the audience with her. 


Lisa's Long Story

photo by Charlie Cody

photo by Charlie Cody

Born in Brooklyn to a musical family, Lisa's early memories of sitting under the piano while her grandmother played, and of folk dancing with her mother, have shaped her career. Lisa played in the District, Boro, and City Wide orchestras from age 8 through high school, won several awards for her classical playing, and during her teens began playing Rock, Bluegrass and Irish music.

While earning her Bachelor of Music degree in classical violin at the Aaron Copland School, Queens College, N.Y., Lisa's versatility quickly attracted the international musical community. She played with the Southern Italian music theater group I Giullari di Piazza, with Amigos del Tango, and with Early Music’s The Waverly Consort, placed first in the Redwood Mountain Fiddle Contest, traveled to Ireland, and as part of the Fast Folk collective, performed with Rod MacDonald, Jack Hardy, Richard Shindell, The Roches, Shawn Colvin, Suzanne Vega, and many more.

As an improviser, Lisa has worked with Jane Siberry, John Cale & Bob Neuwirth with the Soldier String Quartet, Joe Gallant & Illuminati, contemporary R&B artist Pru, poet Imelda O’Reilly with Joel Diamond on piano, and Peter Knight of Steeleye Span. For several years prior to joining the Klezmatics, Lisa focused mostly on traditional Irish and Scottish music, playing and recording with Tommy Sands, John Whelan, Pat Kilbride, Jerry O'Sullivan, Steve Cooney, Cathie Ryan, and Ed Miller, and in the bands Whirligig and An Cré (which means the earth's clay in Irish) with John Redmond and Brendan Dolan. Her on screen appearances include documentaries aired on European and American Public Television, the Conan O'Brien show, and Sex & The City, where the Klezmatics played the band for Charlotte's wedding.

Lisa with Shawn Colvin, photo by Teddy Lee

Lisa with Shawn Colvin,

photo by Teddy Lee

Lisa’s theater credits include co-composer and on stage performer in Paula Vogel's INDECENT,  which heads to Broadway in Spring 2017, composer for Ruth Maleczech's Song For New York, fiddler in Mabou Mines' Peter & Wendy, Pilobolous Dance Theater’s Davenen (with The Klezmatics), Ralph Lee's Mettawee River Theatre Company, and Pat Cannon's Foot & Fiddle Dance Company. She was Music Director for The Lincoln Center Director's Guild Production Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, Music Director for the New York Renaissance Festival in Sterling Forest, NY, and co-orchestrater for Song of Songs by Elizabeth Swados. 

Lisa began writing fiddle tunes in her late teens, then larger instrumental pieces, and most recently songs with lyrics. Her composing projects include a full symphonic rendition, orchestrated by John Marino, of her piece "Waiting Still," performed by The Klezmatics with symphonies in Hungary and Germany, music for Dragon Productions' Seeing Is Believing, with Dutch choreographer Maggie Boogaart, Jody Oberfelder's Landmark of Dreams, and several episodes of the final season of HBO's Sex & The City.

Perhaps the most highly acclaimed composition of Lisa's career is Gonna Get Through This World, her first published song, written in 2003 to Woody Guthrie's lyrics. It is being covered by several singer/songwriters, used by dance companies, arranged for chorus, and appeared on the album: Wonder Wheel with lyrics by Woody Guthrie, which won the 2006 Grammy Award for "Best Contemporary World Music Album of the Year."

After the Woody Guthrie project and Song For New York, Lisa's interest in songwriting led to a MacDowell Fellowship and 5 wonderful weeks writing with collaborator Maggie Dubris, which then led to a Norton Stevens Fellowship. The songs written at MacDowell form the basis for Lisa's solo shows and 2 of them are on From Here On In, Lisa's recent EP release produced by John Lissauer.

Respected as well for her teaching abilities, Lisa released an instructional DVD, accompanied by Pete Rushefsky on Homespun Tapes entitled: Play Klezmer Fiddle! by Lisa Gutkin. She leads fiddle styles workshops at folk festivals, as well as master classes and artist residencies for universities and folk organizations, and many of her private students are or have gone on to become professional musicians.

Lisa currently tours with the Klezmatics, as a soloist, and with the Lisa Gutkin Band.