It’s a balmy September night in Brisbane and medium and clairvoyant Lisa Williams peers out into an audience of 1500 at City Hall. “I have a young female spirit with me who hung herself,” says Lisa, rubbing her throat, as if it’s sore. “She wants to get a message to her mum. Can anybody relate to this?” Some hands go up, and one by one Lisa dismisses them. Finally, up the back of the auditorium, a woman stands, trembling. Before uttering a word Lisa tells her, “Yes, it’s you – she’s telling me ‘that’s her, that’s my Mum!’”
And so the story unfolds, with Lisa talking of how the young woman committed suicide after breaking up with her boyfriend. “She’s saying she’s sorry, that there’s nothing you could have done, that you have to stop feeling guilty.” Lisa then announces the arrival of a second spirit. “He says he’s your brother.”
The woman nods. “He hung himself too.”
“And Mum’s here as well!” It’s then that the woman breaks down sobbing. “Wait, I’m coming down there,” says Lisa, walking from the stage. “Someone help get her out to the aisle.” The woman collapses into Lisa’s arms and for a moment they hug. Lisa assures the woman that her deceased relatives aren’t in hell for committing suicide, that the three of them are all looking after each other, and that they’ll be waiting for her when it’s her turn. “Also, have you had your hair done recently? Because they keep on commenting on it,” says Lisa.
The woman turns bright red and laughs, “I’m actually wearing one of Mum’s old wigs!” The crowd roars with laughter, and the woman returns to her seat beaming, telling Lisa, “you don’t know what this means to me.”
Lisa is a medium and clairvoyant, which means that she can see into the past and the future, and can communicate with people who have died. You can either believe that, or not, she isn’t fazed. The success of Lisa’s TV series ‘Life Among The Dead’ and ‘Voices From The Other Side’ have seen her thrust onto the world stage, and she can barely keep up with the demand. She says that international exposure wasn’t something she set out to achieve – it found her when she did a reading for someone who worked in TV.
“I do still give private readings, but these days I have a waiting list that’s miles long. If I am at a meet and greet and I have a message for someone there I’ll give it to them. And I do have an online group of members and I will give away one reading a month… But fundamentally this is why I now do my live shows, because that’s the best way that I can reach a large number of people at a time.”
Lisa says she can remember seeing dead people as early as three years old. At first she thought it was something everyone could do, and it took her years to come to grips with it. “My grandmother was the same, she had this gift as well. I remember before she passed she told me ‘one day you are going to carry on my work and you’re going to be famous around the world for doing it’. At the time I thought ‘what a load of rubbish’.”
For years Lisa tried her best to ignore the spirits who were constantly vying for her attention, however these days she’s known for stopping strangers in the street and delivering messages from deceased loved ones, everyone from young children, to old school buddies and parents.
Lisa has already toured Australia once this year, and describes the experience as ‘phenomenal’.
“I did two shows in Sydney, two in Melbourne and they all sold out in a few days. I donated all the proceeds to the bushfires appeal, something like $65,000 – and that was amazing. The number of people in Australia who embrace the spiritual lifestyle was absolutely incredible. I do remember one particular reading, I think it was in Melbourne. It was the last reading of the night where I said ‘we have a skeptic over in this area of the audience and I need to speak to you sir’ and this guy looked up at me and said, ‘Who me? How do you know I’m a skeptic?’ and I said ‘well your father’s telling me this’. Well you could have knocked him over with a feather. The whole family stood up, there were tears, laughter – it was funny – really, really lovely. That reading turned a lot of skeptics into believers.”
Over the years Lisa has been challenged by many skeptics, including her own father. “He’s one of the biggest skeptics around!” she laughs. “But Dad has also seen first hand what I can do, and he’s seen how I give people a feeling of closure, and he says ‘you know what Lisa, I can’t take that away from you’.”
One of the most public challenges Lisa has faced was with a skeptic named Laura on an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’. Lisa said that during the reading she kept offering Laura details that should have resonated – like her father’s name, or that he was a ballroom dancer – but Laura remained unconvinced, and was intent on getting cold, hard facts.
“I gave her the name John, but she wanted his full name, that kind of thing. I told her ‘I am only telling you what he is giving me, I can’t make it change’. I almost got up and walked away. I said, ‘if you’re not open to this then there’s no point in me being here’.”
Lisa says that she often reads comments about her in online forums, where people dispute her authenticity. “People say ‘oh Lisa Williams gets all the ticket data and uses that to do background checks on people who come to her show’. Well hello, it’s just me. I don’t have a team of researchers. I certainly don’t put microphones in the bathrooms or under the seats. I laugh at it. Of course, when it comes to TV, the producers get given a certain story. The talent tells them ‘I want to communicate with my mum because of…’ but often there’s another story that comes out or that I bring out.
“And also, people don’t realise just what goes on behind the scenes. The TV producers keep me right away from the talent, they take measures to make sure that I don’t see any of the call sheets or any of the information. There’s a make up artist who goes to check that my client is camera ready and who comes to tell me, but there’s a person who stands outside my dressing room the entire time listening to every little piece of conversation. If anything was slipped then that make up artist would be fired. It’s actually happened before where a make up artist slipped me a piece of information unwittingly – they said ‘oh you’re gonna love this woman, she’s so lovely, it’s so sad about her dad’. That person was taken off the show just for saying that piece of information. I think people need to realise that it is really very genuine and what you see is what you get.”
So, what insight does she have into the big questions like, ‘what’s the meaning of life?’ or ‘what happens when we die?’
“You know what? I don’t think any human being could know what the meaning of life is. It’s such a complicated question. As for the afterlife, well, I only know what the spirits tell me. They tell me that their loved ones were waiting for them when they died, that they go towards the light, that they listen when loved ones talk to them, that in the afterlife their pain is gone. Spirits basically fall into two categories – there are those that get stuck here, which often happens with suicides, and those that move over and come back occasionally to communicate with us. I’ve had a near death experience and so I can assure you, where we go afterwards is a very phenomenal place.”
Lisa Williams remaining Australian tour dates are as follows:
Tues, Sept 22, 2009 – Arts Centre, Gold Coast
Thurs, Sept 24, 2009 – Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Fri, Sept 25, 2009 – Hamer Hall, Melbourne
Sat, Sept 26, 2009 – Convention Centre, Adelaide
Sun, Sept 27, 2009 – Llewellyn Theatre, Canberra
Tues, Sept 29, 2009 – State Theatre, Sydney
Wed, Sept 30, 2009 – State Theatre, Sydney