Over a career that takes in almost two decades with Dead Can Dance, award-winning movie soundtracks and a series of acclaimed solo and collaborative albums, Lisa Gerrard has established herself as one of Australia's most ground-breaking and in-demand artists. A singer, composer and occasional actress, Lisa brings a vision that is both precise and all-embracing to everything she does.
It is a musical journey that began in the early 1980s when she and fellow Australian Brendan Perry formed Dead Can Dance. With Lisa's otherworldly voice counterpoised by Brendon's mellifluous tones, from the outset they thought nothing of setting discordant electric guitars and dark, rolling bass lines against cellos, trombones and tympani.
Over nine albums between 1984 and 1995, the duo's musical canvas expanded with every release to take in a timeless mix of world music influences, mediaeval chants, folk ballads,baroque stylings, Celtic flavours, electronics, samples and anything else that took their fancy. This extraordinary mosaic of musical influences is perhaps less surprising in the light of Lisa's childhood in Melbourne, where she recalls Greek, Turkish and Irish melodies "oozing into the streets" of her neighbourhood.
By the mid-90s, even the ambition of Dead Can Dance was no longer broad enough to encompass Lisa's musical vision. 1995 saw the release of her solo debut, The Mirror Pool, for which she was accompanied by the Victoria Philharmonic Orchestra. Again, it's an album that defies categorisation, causing one impressed but perplexed reviewer to describe it as "ambient, orchestral, folk and new age all at the same time." Duality, a collaboration with Pieter Bourke followed in 1998 and again transcended musical eras and genres. Six years later came the stunningly beautiful Immortal Memory - another joint effort, this time with the Irish composer Patrick Cassidy.
In recent years Lisa has become a much sought-after composer of soundtracks. It's a logical progression, considering that Dead Can Dance's music often had a cinematic quality. Among the films Lisa has scored or contributed to are Gladiator, Heat, Mission: Impossible 2, The Insider, Nadro, Ali, Whale Rider, Black Hawk Down, Tears of The Sun, Constantine and El Nino de la Luna (in which she also starred). She received Golden Globe nominations for The Insider and Ali, Grammy and Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe award for the score of Gladiator, and four international awards for Whale Rider. Lisa also wrote the theme music for the TV mini-series Salem's Lot, while the San Francisco Ballet has performed to her work.