Born in Dallas, Loeb studied piano as a child but later switched to guitar. At Brown University, she studied music theory and played in a duo with her roommate Elizabeth Mitchell (who went on to garner indie accolades with the band Ida). After college, Loeb attended Boston's Berklee School of Music for one semester, but then formed a full band in 1990, which she christened (in tribute to J.D. Salinger) Nine Stories and rounded out with Tim Bright on guitar, Jonathan Feinberg on drums, and Joe Quigley on bass.
Lisa Loeb Nine Stories began to gig around the Midwest, playing at Austin's South by Southwest seminar in the process. Loeb then hooked up with producer Juan Patiño, and in early 1992 released the cassette-only Purple Acoustic Tape, which she sold at her band's shows.
Several major labels showed interest in Loeb's pop/rock songcraft, but she remained unsigned by late 1993, when her friend Ethan Hawke asked her to contribute a song for his next movie. Hawke passed along a copy of "Stay" to his director, Ben Stiller, who inserted it onto the soundtrack for Reality Bites. Released as a single in May 1994, it reached number one two months later and eventually sold over 750,000 copies in America. Loeb Nine Stories received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance by a Group, and won a Brit Award for Best International Newcomer. Geffen Records, which had shown interest in Loeb before "Stay," signed her later in 1994 and re-teamed her with Juan Patiño. Her debut album, Tails, was released just over a year after her signing, and proved successful with commercial radio as well. Firecracker appeared in 1997, scoring another hit with "I Do" and climbing to gold certification like its predecessor. Tours with the Wallflowers and Chris Isaak followed later that summer, as well as a stint with Lilith Fair.
Five years later, Loeb returned with a third effort and her debut offering for AM, Cake and Pie. She co-produced the album and collaborated with an impressive cast, which included Glen Ballard, boyfriend Dweezil Zappa, Randy Scruggs (Vince Gill, Sawyer Brown, Waylon Jennings), and Peter Collins (Bon Jovi, the Indigo Girls). Lead-off single "The Way It Really Is" was a moderate hit among college radio, and "We Could Still Belong Together" was included on the soundtrack to Legally Blonde. In mid-2002, Loeb switched labels once more after inking a deal with Artemis. She relaunched Cake and Pie under the title Hello Lisa, which featured Sanrio's signature Hello Kitty artwork on the cover, that November. The Sanrio/Loeb union proved fruitful, as it coincided with the cutesy character's popularity boom in trendy Hollywood.
For her next trick, Loeb reunited with old college pal Elizabeth Mitchell for the children's music album Catch the Moon, which featured a pleasant mix of traditionals and originals. Although it didn't include the single of the same name, The Way It Really Is was the title of Loeb's follow-up album in 2004, her first for the Zoe label. Meanwhile, the television show Dweezil & Lisa premiered on The Food Network in January of the same year. It followed Zappa and Loeb throughout their daily activities as rockers and food lovers; moreover, it paved the way for another Loeb-centric TV show, #1 Single, which premiered in 2006 after her breakup with Zappa. The Very Best of Lisa Loeb arrived in 2006, having been released one year prior in Japan.
After issuing the Cherries EP in 2007, Loeb delved into her back catalog and gave her 1992 demo The Purple Tape its first release on CD in 2008, with the ten tracks accompanied by an extended interview. In 2008, Loeb also released her second album for children, Camp Lisa, which included guest appearances by Steve Martin and Jill Sobule. It also was designed to draw attention to Loeb's Camp Lisa Foundation, designed to make it possible for underserved children to attend summer camp. The famously bespectacled Loeb launched her own line of eyewear in 2010, offering frames she designed for women and children. Loeb took a stylistic detour with 2013's No Fairy Tale; co-produced by Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, the album was an upbeat effort that reflected Gilbert's pop-punk influence. Loeb turned her attention to children's music for the next several years, issuing Lisa Loeb's Silly Sing-Along: The Disappointing Pancake and Other Zany Songs, Songs for Movin' and Shakin': The Air Band Song and Other Toe-Tapping Tunes, Nursery Rhyme Parade, and Feel What U Feel between 2011 and 2016. (Feel What U Feel earned Loeb a Grammy award for Best Children's Album.) 2017's Lullaby Girl began as another kid-friendly project, but evolved into a set of low-key, jazzy covers of some of Loeb's favorite songs, along with a pair of originals. She returned to more personal and grown-up themes on 2020's Simple Trick to Happiness, a collection of songs inspired by her own experiences as a wife, a parent, and a musician. ~ John Bush & Mark Deming, Rovi
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