Marilyn Fisher

Bio Info

Short Version:

Vocalist Marilyn Fisher has been performing and teaching jazz and classical music in Madison since singing a capella at a Sunday night open mic at the infamous Club de Wash in the 1990s. She came to Madison after graduating from Lawrence University with a degree in Choral Education, getting involved in the music scene through the presenting organization, the Madison Music Collective, and singing in various choirs, and then in a variety of jazz groups, as a vocalist and hand-drummer. She has performed with many well-known area musicians including guitarists Doug Brown, Jeff Larson, Cliff Fredericksen, John Vitale and Vince Jesse; pianists Paul Hastil, Dan Barker, and Stan Godfriaux; bassists Laurie Lang, John Christensen, John Mesoloras and Matt Heredia; and drummers John Becker, Michael Brenneis, and Dane Richeson, among many others. She is also the vocalist and percussionist with Madison’s all-female 18-piece big band, Ladies Must Swing, and has judged at WSMA solo and ensemble festivals throughout Wisconsin for 30 years.

Long Version:

Music Education:

Degree: Bachelor of Music, Choral Education from Lawrence University, Appleton, WI

Voice Teachers: Lois Fisher Svitavsky, Ken Bozeman, Ruth Paynter, Kathy Kjelland

Piano Teachers: Robert Below, Ruth Paynter, Kathy Kjelland

Improv Teachers: Laurie Lang, Paul Hastil, Roger Brotherhood, Rhiannon, and, of course Ella Fitzgerald, Chet Baker, Louis Armstrong, Nancy King, Kurt Elling, etc. (the latter group through recordings only, of course!)

Performance Experiences:

Choirs: UW-Madison Choral Union (Robert Fountain, conductor); Madison Symphony Chorus (Roland Johnson, conductor; Anne Stanke, director & pianist); Festival Choir (David Lewis Crosby, conductor); Madison Chamber Choir (Joe Brachmann, conductor)

Director of Wisconsin Children’s Choir - Junior Choir, 1999

Groups: Bob Westfall/Marilyn Fisher Duo; Jeff Larsen/Marilyn Fisher Duo; Low String Swing all-female swing group; Bergan Riley (Vicki Mecozzi) Band; Crossing Over Vocal Ensemble led by Laurie Lang; Doug Brown/Marilyn Fisher Duo/Group; Marilyn Fisher/Paul Hastil Duo; John Becker Group; Marilyn Fisher Group (duo, trio, quartet); Ladies Must Swing all-female big band; Marilyn Fisher/John Vitale Duo, John Vitale Group, Marilyn Fisher/Vince Duo/Group, among others…

Musical History

A life-long resident of Wisconsin, Marilyn grew up in historic and artistic Mineral Point, WI, studying voice and piano with Ruth Paynter and Kathy Kjelland, and percussion throughout her primary and secondary school years with Ray Reuter, Hal Hokensen and Bill Brown. She graduated from Lawrence University in Appleton, WI with a Bachelor of Music degree in Choral Education. At Lawrence, she studied voice with Kenneth Bozeman, and piano with Robert Below. After settling in Madison, she pursued various occupational and musical endeavors, singing with the Madison Symphony Chorus, Festival Choir and others.

As a soloist, she “debuted” in Madison a capella at an open mic at the infamous Club de Wash. Performing with various Madison area folk and jazz artists (Bob Westfall, Jeff Larson, Doug Brown, Bergan Riley/Vicki Mecozzi), she was also a member of the all-female group, Low String Swing, with friends Laurie Lang, Mary Gaines, Nora Frisk, Julie Shapiro & Beth Navarra-Wilson. Eventually she resumed her voice studies, and was most profoundly influenced by the teaching of UW Voice Professor Emerita, Lois Fisher Svitavsky.

Forming her own ensembles, she teamed most closely with guitarist and pianist, Doug Brown, and later with pianist, Paul Hastil. Marilyn also joined the ranks of the all-female big band from the beginning of the 18-piece ensemble, Ladies Must Swing (LMS), and remains their vocalist and percussionist. You will also find her on the 2nd & 4th Thursdays at Bandung Indonesian Restaurant and on “Skippeth Out of Work” Thursdays in the summer at American Players Theatre (APT), most recently with guitarist, Jeff Larsen.

Marilyn began teaching privately full-time in 1996, and continues teaching, performing, and coaching today. She is also a Master Adjudicator for Wisconsin School Music Association’s (WSMA) Solo & Ensemble contests, in primary and secondary schools throughout WI (since 1989).

Outside of performing and teaching, Marilyn has long been a part of the Madison music scene, with her primary focus on jazz and improvization. Her involvement with the Madison Music Collective (MMC) since 1987 has included serving as a board member, volunteer, and as staff. Highlights of her MMC tenure were the numerous successful grant-writing efforts that supported many MMC-sponsored performances, including the 1992 MMC Jazz Festival on the UW Memorial Union Terrace, and the 1995 MMC 10-year Anniversary Concert series at various venues within the King & Main Street block. She continues to support the Collective as it works to support and inspire the Madison jazz/improv/music community.