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.—Theodore Roosevelt
Lisa 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 moved to 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 November of 2014, Dames performed in eleven productions of both Patsy Cline shows—Always . . . Patsy Cline and A Closer Walk With Patsy Cline—touring in several states.”
In 2005, Dames began making bi-weekly treks to Nashville from Greensboro to record with producer David Grow. In 2006 her debut CD No One Like Me was released to country radio stations nationwide. The release was soon followed by a cross country radio tour taking Dames to 62 radio stations in 20 states. Her first single Just Another Day peaked at number 56 on the Music Row chart followed by I'd Leave Me which hit Top 40 status in the summer of 2007.
Dames signed a distribution deal with Select O Hits so WalMart stores throughout North Carolina and southern Virginia to carry her CD. Waffle House promoted the CD through their network of in-store jukeboxes. Both the WalMart distribution deal and the Waffle House promotion included live in-store performance by Dames.
Dames has opened shows for Jamie O'Neal, Trent Tomlinson, Craig Morgan, John Michael Montgomery, Lori McKenna and Vince Gill and she sang the National Anthem as part of the Indy 500's weekend of events.
In 2011, Lisa re-connected with Shawn Patch founding member of the Greensboro based band The Radials. Initially Shawn was looking for a female singer to record a few demos. However, after the first recording session, Dames asked for an audition to become the lead singer for the band. Dames officially joined The Radials in 2011. They can be seen and heard performing throughout the Triad. www.theradials.com
In addition to singing with The Radials, Dames offers Patsy Cline concerts to retirement communities, adult day programs, senior church groups and an assortment of special events. Dames estimates she performs over 100 Patsy Cline concerts a year.
“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 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.”