The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at his best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
Lisa Dames is neither timid nor cold. She is a sassy, sexy wife and mother who is set to make her mark on country music. On Dames’ new album, No One Like Me, she explores her songs from the inside out, investing each one with a sense of urgency ripped from her own life. A life that could have been inconsequential in someone else’s hands.
The songs on Dames’ album No One Like Me represent a penetrating and sometimes humorous view of life from a woman’s perspective. “There seems to be a prevailing thought that once a woman gets married and has kids, she stops being a woman,” comments Dames. “I tend to believe the opposite—that a woman may get married and have kids, but first and foremost she’s a woman.”
From the comforts and confidence of leading the single life (“Good Time Lookin’ and “Kinda Fun (Getting Over You)” to the isolation of loneliness (“Way Down Here”) to the serious life struggles of “Just Another Day,” the songs create a tapestry of a relationship moving through its various stages.
The first single, “Just Another Day,” penned by Trey Bruce and Kylie Maree Sackley, immediately struck a chord with Dames. “When I first heard this song I thought, that is so right on,” Dames remembers. “When my dad died I expected the whole world to grieve. Of course they didn’t, but it was surreal how one of the two people who had known me my whole life was suddenly gone and no one noticed.”
Dames grew up in St. Louis, Houston and Cincinnati. It didn’t take long for her to become swept up by country music. “When I was nine years old,” she says, “my best friend and I would play Dolly Parton’s ‘Here You Come Again’ and sing along at the top of our lungs.” Unfortunately, Dames was not surrounded by encouraging adults. “My father wanted me to get a business degree,” Dames recalls. “But I loved to sing and although it was discouraging sometimes, I never let go of my dream.”
“During college Dames had a brief tenure working in sales at a country radio station in Cincinnati—the Beaver, 96.5. Later, while doing summer stock theatre, her roommate introduced her to Pam Tillis’ ‘Maybe It Was Memphis’ and Suzy Bogguss’ ‘Aces.’” “Those two albums really showed me what country music could do”, says Dames. “The voices and songs were both so compelling. I was hooked.” During this period, Dames met the man she would soon marry. Once her husband was out of school, the young couple moved to his native Milwaukee. There, Dames worked with several of the city’s professional theater companies. “After being told I wasn’t a singer,” Dames says with quiet satisfaction, “I worked nonstop for six years.” She became known as one of the best voices in Milwaukee.
It was in Milwaukee that Dames gave birth to her two daughters, her motivation for success. “I never want my children to think that a dream is too big or beyond their grasp.”
In November of 1999, after giving birth to her second daughter, Dames got an unexpected phone call from an old college friend who was working at The Barn Dinner Theatre in Greensboro, North Carolina. They were getting ready to do A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline and they needed an actress to play Patsy Cline. “I told her I’d never done anything like that and that I didn’t sound like Patsy Cline. She said, ‘I know, but I think you can do it.’ Between January 2001 and September of 2004, Dames performed in seven productions of both Patsy Cline shows—Always . . . Patsy Cline and A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline—touring in several states.”
“It’s funny, but portraying Patsy Cline is what helped me to develop my own style,” says Dames. “While most of the other actresses who were doing these shows were so focused on sounding just like Patsy, I was focused on the emotion she put into her songs. And, that’s how I try to sing everything. Without the emotion, it’s just a bunch of words. Patsy knew this. That’s why she’s timeless.”
No One Like Me is produced by Grammy nominated producer David Grow, best known for his studio work with pop piano icon Jim Brickman. It features songs by such Music Row luminaries as Brett James, Troy Verges, Victoria Shaw and Hillary Lindsey.
After hearing Dames’ demo, Grow was intrigued. “David called me right away,” says Dames. “and said that there was ‘something distinctive but familiar about my voice’ and that he thought we could create ‘something magical.’” In No One Like Me, they have.