Passing of Jeff Lisenby

May 24, 1955 - January 6, 2021

ATG Memorial Tribute to Jeff Lisenby February 02, 2021

On February 21, 2021, the ATG presented a Memorial to Jeff Lisenby hosted by ATG President Mary Anne Covone. Over 100 people attended the live zoom event. It was a very emotional tribute to Jeff including photos of his career and family, videos by Jeff and friends.

Jeff Taylor, his prayer partner and musical friends for over 30 years offered a prayer for Jeff. He said, “ Our relationship was fraternal, never competitive, I paid for my first accordion with Jeff’s gigs that he gave me.” Jeff Taylor performed his emotional composition, “Elegy for Dr. Jeff”.

Jeff’s relatives, friends and musical colleagues offered moving tributes to him. I wish I had had the good fortune to meet him in person.

Joanne Cochran Sommers was his teacher. She said, “He was always prepared for his private lessons. He could read, had perfect pitch, and always listened to all kinds of music, and played all kinds of instruments. He helped everyone, and took all jobs, even while going to school. He was a music director, conductor, accordionist for many individuals. Jeff was a kind person his whole life, one great musician, a fine and gentle person. I respect and love him and will miss him.”

Among the many videos included are his accompaniment of his daughter singing at ATG 2003, 2014 Jazz Trio, trailer footage of “Ring of Fire” which Jeff conducted on Broadway, plus much more.

His daughter, Jaclyn Lisenby Brown, said, “Thank you to everyone who attended the Zoom memorial for Jeff Lisenby . Special thanks to AtG for organizing it, Mary Ann Covone Carden for hosting, and to Jeff Taylor, Joan C. Sommers, Jane Christison, Liz Finch, Mark Weston, Cindy Brown, and Tarryn Smith Wallin for speaking.

In case you missed it, highlights included: - My 91-year-old grandmother telling other people they look old - Jokes about Tupperware - an orchestra of accordions playing “MacArthur Park”

We’re still planning to have an in-person jam session to celebrate Dad’s life sometime this spring. Watch for more info soon.”

Learn about the amazing life of Jeff Lisenby. See the above video.

Article in Accordion USA News by Editor Rita Davidson Barnea
Video 1: Jeff Lisenby, complete performance in Kansas City, 1990. Heinz Siemens has very kindly made available this video from his youtube channel.

Heinz Siemens wrote: "Jeff Lisenby passed away Jan. 6, 2021. To honor and remember this great talent and kind and giving gentleman, I am posting the full 20 minute concert he presented on Aug. 11, 1990. Jeff was a 2 time U.S.A. classical accordion champ. Later he toured with artists like Donna Summer & Dolly Parton to name a very few, playing all genres of music including jazz."
Article in Accordion USA News by Editor Rita Barnea

AWW sadly reports the untimely passing (Covid) of Jeff Lisenby on January 6, 2021. Jeff was a wonderful gifted musician highly respected by all. Lisenby earned a Master's Degree from The Conservatory of Music of the University of Missouri-Kansas City. He was no stranger to musical oxymorons. His experience ran the gamut of styles.

Jeff was a two time ATG national accordion champion (1974 & 77) and a bronze medalist in the Coupe Mondiale International Classical accordion competitions. "When I was a kid," Lisenby said, "my goal was to win the world accordion championship, which was for 'serious' music. So I was practicing 7-8 hours a day when I was a teenager. I would get tired of practicing the 'heavy' music, and then I would start playing pop or jazz standard tunes and improvising on them. It was a good musical mix for me."

Lisenby used his genius on the accordion and keyboards to carve a niche market for himself and performed with the Nashville, Kansas City, and Los Angeles Symphonies, the Palm Beach Pops Orchestra, and a gig accompanying Luciano Pavarotti during part of his USA tour.

Certainly not limited to classical music, Lisenby toured extensively with the Mills Brothers, Boots Randolph, and Brenda Lee, and accompanied Lee Greenwood, Donna Summer, Tricia Yearwood, Three-Dog Night, the Coasters, David Cassidy, Marty Stuart, Jo Dee Messina, Pam Tillis, Loretta Lynn, Roy Clark, and Dolly Parton, to name a few.

Recently, Lisenby was honored to be the conductor/pianist/orchestrator for "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash”, for which he pulled from his extensive experience backing country artists in Nashville. Lisenby was also one of the first-call accordionists for recording sessions in Nashville.

Projects he worked on included the Grammy-winning album: “Songs from the Neighborhood; the Music of Mister Rogers”, and jingles for Budweiser and Sutherland’s Lumber (which he also wrote and produced). Lisenby taught for Belmont University’s School of Music and was active in the Nashville recording scene. He also presented seminars for the ATG.

Jeff Lisenby will be greatly missed by all.

Obituary by the
May 24, 1955 - January 6, 2021
Nashville - Jeff Bryan Lisenby, musician, age 65, died at home in Nashville of COVID-19 complications on January 6. The son of George (deceased) and Doris (Wells) Lisenby, Kansas City, Missouri, Jeff graduated in 1973 from Raytown South High School, and earned advanced degrees in music at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC).

His established career was expanded and diversified on the Nashville music scene over the past 35 years, to include composition, arranging, performing, studio recordings, college teaching, and directing musical shows on Broadway and on cruise lines.

He is survived by his wife Pam (Kelsay), their daughter Jaclyn (husband Daniel) Brown of Buffalo, New York, their son Jonathan Lisenby, Nashville area, Jeff's mother, sister Jenny Lockington, Orlando, Florida, grandchildren Jasper and Jemma Brown, three nephews, and a niece.

Condolences should be sent to Pam Lisenby, 1828 Bryce Circle, Nashville 37211.

Karen Fremar Tribute and Dedication to Jeff Lisenby

Video 1: When We All Get to Heaven - Fremar & Adami Accordion/Piano Duo
Dedicated to Jeff Lisenby, my great accordion duo partner from years ago who sadly passed away on January 6, 2021, from Covid. "Sing and Shout the Victory" ~ you will live on through your music, my friend. With love, Karen
Video 2: Karen Fremar and Jeff Lisenby - US Champion Accordion Duo in Concert

A rare digitized recording of a live concert for the International Music Association by featured concert artists and US Accordion Champions Karen Fremar and Jeff Lisenby in Cedar Point, Ohio on July 24,1976. The duo performed the featured concert before a packed house of nearly 1,000 persons after judging competitions and writing comments for 5 days of competitions.

The duo often performed in concert with Gary Smith on drums (who is pictured in many of the photos of various performances, but did not travel to Ohio for this concert).

Jeff and Karen won the US Champion Duo AAA Accordion Title in Chicago in 1974 and also represented the United States in the Coupe Mondiale World Accordion Championships in Stockholm, Sweden in 1974.

They performed and arranged together as the duo team, "Karen and Jeff" from the early 1970s until 1977, appearing in numerous engagements in Kansas City and throughout the U.S. in cities such as Chicago, St. Louis, Topeka, Omaha, Fort Scott, Cedar Point, Wichita, Des Moines, Washington D.C. and L.A., as well as in Sweden and Denmark.

There are no known videos of their performances together. Until the sad passing of Jeff, they both performed, composed, and arranged professionally -- Jeff in Nashville and Karen in Kansas City.

Program (All duo arrangements for two accordions by Fremar and Lisenby):
Don't Rain on My Parade
Stevie Wonder Medley
Games People Play
Begin the Beguine (arr. after a concert performance by Bill Palmer and Bill Hughes)
Shop Around
Love Will Keep Us Together
The Sound of Music Selections (arr. for duo from an orchestra arr. by Palmer and Hughes)
Sing a Song - Make Your Own Kind of Music
Selections from My Fair Lady (from a duo arrangement by Palmer & Hughes)
Encore - Kansas City

Music compositions and album of original music by Jeff Lisenby released in November 2011. Also accordion CV as of 2011.

Karen and Jeff Promo Booklet - Print Version download 1975
Karen and Jeff text and photo
Karen and Jeff duo performance at the Award Dinner, 1974 Coupe Mondiale in Stockholm
Karen and Jeff after performing duo at 1974 Coupe with Ebbe Jularbo
President, Swedish Accordion Association.

After performance picture at 1974 Coupe Mondiale in Stockholm.

left to right: Jeff Lisenby, Karen Fremar, Mauro Grecco, Maddelena Belfiore Grecco (AAA President 1975-76 and 1979-80), Faithe Deffner (AAA President 1985-86 and 1995-2000. Dinner after Coupe Mondiale duo performance.
Karen and Jeff promotional picture 1976
Karen and Jeff promotional picture 1976
Karen and Jeff duo concert, maybe in Ohio.
Karen and Jeff window publicity picture
Karen and Jeff after a duo concert

Site constructed and hosted by: Accordions Worldwide at
© Copyright 2021 Accordions Worldwide. All rights reserved