Lisa Stansfield on Not Looking Like She Sounds, Slapping Prince in the Face


If Lisa Stansfield has been doing a lot reminiscing around her new album Deeper, it's because the album reminds her of the beginning of her career. 

"This album is like the offspring of the first two albums," she tells Q104.3 New York's Out of the Box with Jonathan Clarke. "It comes from the same gene pool, but it's slightly different. It's of its time but it's got its parents' genes."

There's no doubt the combination worked. The album's single "Never Ever" made it to No. 6 on the Billboard Dance Charts in America this summer, and the album hit No. 6 on the U.K. Independent Album Charts. 

But a lot has changed since Stansfield first arrived in America behind the wild success of her 1989 debut, Affection. For one, people know what she looks like now, which was not always the case. 

"It was really weird when I first came [to the U.S.]," Stansfield says. "Because everybody sees a million trillion pictures of the artists before they even listen to the music now; nobody knew what I looked like [then]. I came over here, I'm like, a little skinny white girl and everybody expected me to look like Aretha Franklin. I walked into urban radio stations and they'd look at me and say, 'Oh, is Lisa here?' And I'd say, 'No, it's me! I'm not the assistant.' So it took a while for people to get used to it."

And when they did get used to it, Stansfield's notoriety afforded her audiences with heroes like George Michael, Prince and Dionne Warwick. But Stansfield admits she's not always been the best at keeping her cool in the presence of greatness.

She recalls being in Rio with her husband Ian Devaney at a party that Prince was also attending. She says she was shocked when she learned that Prince wanted to speak with her; she almost said no, but relented after Devaney urged her to go. 

"So I went up and obviously I'm still really in a state about everything," she said, recalling her nerves. "And [Prince] keeps talking to me, and he kept sort of flirting with me. I thought it was quite inappropriate, and because I was really nervous, I got really flustered and I just slapped him across the face! After I slapped him...he just said, 'I think I'm gonna dance,' and he jumped onto the dance floor. It was the most incredible thing I've ever seen.'"

Stansfield defends Prince, saying he didn't do anything untoward; she insists that she acted out because of her nerves. 

"I just thought, 'Oh, I messed that up so bad! He's never, ever going to want to talk to me ever again,'" she recalls thinking. 

"But he did talk to me again and he was very nice," she added.

While not everyone can slap an icon and get away with it, Stansfield says the greatest reward of her career is the stories people tell her about what her music has meant to them. 

She recalls being in a local pub near her home in Ireland years ago, where she and Devaney were regulars. At one point, the bartender brought drinks over for the couple, saying they were from a stranger who was sitting alone at the bar.

"I said, 'Why did you buy me a drink?'" Stansfield said she later asked. "He said, 'Because you saved my marriage.'"

Apparently the man and his wife were about to split up, Stansfield recalls him telling her. They agreed one morning to go about their days as normal, think about what they wanted and hash it out later that evening. 

"That day he heard 'All Woman' on the radio," Stansfield says. "He went to the record shop and bought the record. That evening his wife came home from work and he was waiting for her. He said, 'Come and sit down and listen to this song'...It always makes me cry when I tell this story. And they sat together and they cried and they realized that they'd been really silly. And they're still married."

"That's what that song is all about: you lose sight of why you got together in the first place. It all becomes very functional, a marriage. And it shouldn't be a job, it shouldn't be a chore, it should be a pleasure, shouldn't it?"

Watch the full interview above!

Get all Lisa Stansfield's tour dates here.  

Follow Lisa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

Hear Lisa's song "Never Ever" from her new album, Deeper.

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