One of her favorite auditions was for Blues singer Linda Hopkins. Because Elisa was only 11 years of age, the club almost didn’t let her in to audition for the opening act spot. Linda got word that there was a young girl upstairs who wanted to sing. Elisa finally got her wish and auditioned with a sultry-soulful rendition of “Birth Of The Blues”. Linda hired her on the spot to open up for her at New York’s legendary Jazz/Blues club Sweetwater’s Café. Linda asked, “Where does a little girl like you get so much soul?” She thinks it’s because she grew up in a fabulous city like Philadelphia with a very musical family. Her mother Betty was a singer and her father Alexander Fiorillo is a concert pianist and Professor of Music at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was one of five students to have studied piano with the legendary concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz.
After doing a Broadway show in New York, “The Three Musketeers,” Elisa and her mother moved to California. Elisa performed and won “Star Search” in 1985. From there, she went on to record with Chrysalis Records. Her first album entitled “Elisa Fiorillo” debuted in 1988. She also had a Top 10 dance hit with New York DJ/Producer - Jellybean Benitez (who worked with Madonna) called, “Who Found Who” which took her on a promotion tour all around the world.
Elisa toured all over the United States and Europe promoting both the Jellybean hit and her self titled album. She performed on many television shows including: Arsenio Hall, The Apollo, Top Of The Pops, American Bandstand, Solid Gold, The Rick Dees Show and Entertainment Tonight. Elisa performed at the Budakon Arena and won an award for Best New Artist at the Tokyo Music Festival. Her second album on Chrysalis Records was called “I Am”. The album was recorded in Minneapolis at Paisley Park Studios. Record producer David Z. produced 1/2 of the album (The Jets/Fine Young Cannibals/Jody Watley) and Prince produced the other 1/2 of the album. Elisa co-wrote the first single “On The Way Up” which peaked at #26 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart with Prince and Levi Seacer Jr. Elisa wrote five of the ten songs on the album.
While recording in Minneapolis, Elisa lent her talents on a couple of Prince projects. You can hear her voice on the Grafitti Bridge soundtrack singing “Love Machine” with Morris Day, on the Batman Soundtrack singing backgrounds on the 12” version of “Party Man” and on the Diamonds and Pearls album singing backgrounds on “Daddy Pop” and “Walk” along with singer Rosie Gaines. She has also sung backgrounds on projects for: David Cassidy, Belinda Carlisle, Dave Koz, Billie Myers, La Toya Jackson. You can also hear her on numerous television commercials including: “The Address is CBS”, “Planet Reebok”, “Hawaiian Punch” and “Fox TV”. As a background vocalist, Elisa toured with the band “Savage Garden” for the “Affirmation Tour 2000” and “Billie Myers”. She traveled throughout Australia, Europe, Asia and the United States performing with both of the artists. In June of 2000 she had the pleasure of opening up for legendary Nina Simone at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles.
Recently (after 20 years) Prince contacted Elisa to sing with him in his band the NPG. She has been performing with him for the last 5 years doing shows all over the world including: Abu Dhabi, Montreux, Switzerland for The Montreux Jazz Festival and the North Sea Jazz Festival in Curacao. When Elisa isn’t touring with Prince, she is busy at home being a mom to her beautiful 8 year old daughter Olivia and stays creative. Elisa recently collaborated with a very talented 20 year old guitarist named Tyler Reese to record an album of songs she wrote spanning over a 20 year period of her life. The album “Life in 20” will be released June 2014 under her band name “The Dease & Reese Project” (her married name is Elisa Dease). Stay tuned for more information and make sure to visit www.deaseandreese.com to learn more about her new project.