In Advance of Next Week's Performance at the BorderLight Festival, Kerisse Hutchinson Talks About Her Tribute to Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes

When one of Kerisse Hutchinson’s acting teachers told her she should create a show about the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, singer with the R&B/hip-hop group TLC, Hutchinson wasn’t convinced that she should exploit her physical resemblance to Lopes in that manner.

But when Hutchinson saw a documentary film about Lopes at the South by Southwest Film Festival in 2007, she realized she should start doing some research for a one-woman show.

“I did two years of research,” she says via phone from her Atlanta home. Hutchinson brings her one-woman show, 2 the Left: A Tribute to the Life of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, to Cibreo Privato next week for performances that take place at 9 p.m. on Friday, July 26, and at noon and 8 p.m. on Saturday, July 27. It’s one of many shows that’s part of next week's BorderLight Festival. Tickets to the festival are currently on sale now, and Scene readers get $2 off each ticket with the promo code SCENE. “I knew about her music, but I didn’t know about her other than she burned down a house. I learned she has so many layers. I started writing it and then reached out to her family in 2013 to let them know that I was doing something about their family member. Since then, they’ve been fully on board.”

After the BorderLight Festival shows, Hutchinson will hold down a ten-day residency at the Synchronicity Theatre in Midtown Atlanta.

The talented Lopes began playing music at an early age, and her remarkable talent isn’t lost on Hutchinson.

“She played piano without ever being taught,” she says of Lopes. “Her whole family is very artistic. Her dad played a bunch of instruments and her mother made things out of wood. When she was young, she was very creative. She just kept expanding her artistry.”

TLC’s first album was a hit right out of the gates, and the follow-up album, CrazySexyCool, connected strongly with fans and established that the group wasn’t just another R&B/hip-hop act.

“They didn’t do things by the book,” says Hutchinson. “I feel like they all could have had solo projects. Hip-hop and pop fusion I think started with them. They were very real. They weren’t glammed up, but they were all beautiful in three different ways. Women connected to them because they wanted to be like them and because they didn’t have to show off their boobs. Men connected to them. They were before their time. Lisa wrote eight songs on that first album and helped develop their image.”

Hutchinson doesn’t refrain from depicting Lopes’ volatile relationship with Atlanta Falcon Andre Rison.

“I go all in,” she says. “I think they loved hard and fought hard. There was nothing but drama and love. Were they good for each other? No. But they had a lot of things in common. She had a good relationship with Tupac, which I touch on, who was her spiritual partner.”

Lopes’ tragic death in a car crash in Honduras forms what Hutchinson says is the show’s “main crux.”

“She just turned 30 and had these premonitions,” she says. “She knows that something is going to happen, and she’s trying to figure out what her legacy will be. That’s where her spiritual journey begins. She’s trying to figure out why she’s here. She knew she was going to die, whatever people think of that. She was surrounded by death a lot. I take the audience through that.”

Since it’s a one-woman show, Hutchinson handles all the dancing and singing and acting, something that she says has taken hours upon hours of rehearsal to perfect.

“It’s been challenging for me to step into her shoes for an hour-and-a-half,” she says. “My director likes to say, ‘Well, you wrote it.’ It’s exhausting, but I can’t hold back when I do it. For a one-person show, that’s the one thing everyone says. You have to make sure you’re fit. And that’s for shows that don’t even involve singing and dancing. But it’s been such a fulfilling journey. I can now call her family friends, and they invite me to the birthday parties. It’s been such a rewarding experience. I never knew it would take me on this journey when I started writing the show all those years ago.”

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About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected]
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