Pop R&B Singer
Lisa Lisa in the life.
In spite of the fact that Lisa Lisa is the voice behind some of the 1980’s most memorable songs, surprisingly little is known about the Puerto Rican native, born Lisa Velez of New York’s Hell’s Kitchen. She was born one of 10 children with the dream of being a recording star. At the age of 16 she decided to sneak out of her family apartment to go to The Fun House, a popular hang out for break dancers and rappers at the time. She heard Madonna was discovered here by a top producer, and realized this could be her chance! At The Fun House she met not a producer but percussionist, Mike Hughs, a member of Full Force, the band was looking for a singer. Lisa Lisa auditioned for this part and was instantaneously welcomed into the Full Force family. Her stunning voice and stage presence was the “spark” the band was searching for. Their first single “Wonder if I Take you Home” featured Lisa’s vocals and the group was signed to New York’s Personal Records. Not a matter of speculation is the massive amount of success Full Force and Lisa Lisa earned with their ingenious collaboration.
As the front-woman of Full Force’s Cult Jam, Lisa Lisa enjoyed a string of chart-topping songs, beginning with “I Wonder If I Take You Home” and created enough stir to secure the group a recording contract with Columbia Records. Their debut album, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force, built upon the success of “I Wonder If I Take You Home” with the ballad “All Cried Out”, earned Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam their second charting single and catapulted the album to platinum status. Released in 1987, their sophomore release, Spanish Fly, also achieved platinum sales with singles such as “Head to Toe” and “Lost Emotion” keeping Cult Jam on the charts and making Lisa Lisa an international star.
Another two-year recording gap resulted in the release of Straight to the Sky, which featured a decidedly more R&B feel, while maintaining the funky beats for which Cult Jam and Full Force were famous for. In 1991, the group released their final album together, ending a six-year run as one of the most successful hip hop/dance outfits. Entitled Straight Outta Hell’s Kitchen, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam’s swan song is one of their most consistent efforts ever. Songs like “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em”, “Let the Music Play”, and “Love Will Get Us By” offered the dance floor- ready tracks, which fans had come to expect. Straight Outta Hell’s Kitchen plays homage to Lisa Lisa neighborhood through its title, while demonstrating her range as a vocalist through its material.
In 1994, Lisa Lisa returned with her first solo effort, LL77, a more sensual and less dance-oriented production such as her collaborations with Cult Jam and Full Force. LL77’s singles- “When I Fell In Love” and “Skip to My Lu”- barely scratched the surface of the playfully veiled sensuality of tracks such as “Covers” and “Acid Rain.” Again paying homage to her roots, both “When I Fell In Love” and “Why Can’t Lovers” were recorded in both English and Spanish. Collaborating with one of dance music’s most famous DJs, Junior Vasquez, and R&B ingénue turned space-age diva, Nona Hendryx, LL77 boasts an edgy, rock influence complete with electric guitars and self-assured, raucous lyrics.
In between the 12-year recording break, Lisa Lisa has stayed busy. She still tours all over the world to sold out audiences and remains one of the most requested artists on radio stations across the country. Lisa Lisa’s latest effort, the highly anticipated “Life ‘n Love,” hit the streets on July 14th, 2009 on the Mass Appeal Entertainment label. This album finds Lisa back to basics with its R&B/Hip-Hop Soul and Salsa undertones that
the fans are used to, along with features from some very special guests. To add to her many accolades, Lisa Lisa has stayed busy appearing in many Television specials and shows and also starring on Broadway. She starred in the Nickelodeon show Taina, the first sitcom on TV depicting a Latino family, playing the young mom of a 14 year old girl who dreams of becoming a star. Lisa has also completed a guest lead in the 300th episode of the popular NBC series Law & Order. Starring in West Side Story on Broadway has also exemplified her talents as both an actress and a performer. She has made many guest appearances on a variety of VH1’s highest rating specials. Lisa remains a role model for her community, hosting events such as the Puerto Rican Day Parade, acting as spokesperson for the Literacy, Pass It On campaign, and countless other charitable and community based organizations. In 1989 Lisa was honored by President George Bush as the Most Accomplished Latin American Artist, National Hispanic Heritage Presidential Tribute. As one of the first Latin divas to gain international success, performing English language material in the rock era, Lisa Lisa is truly a marvel. By incorporating elements of rap, hip hop, dance, and pop into her own personal musical landscape as a Puerto Rican resident of one of New York’s toughest ghettos, she has achieved what many have only attempted. Lisa Lisa’s captivating movement of feel good music is far from over. Her genuine persona exudes through her music, embracing the fans into a care free environment. It is no wonder Lisa Lisa has and will continue to reign as the Queen of Latin Hip-Hop.
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