S P O T L I G H T
by P.C. Williams
Sound check at the Copa in Fort Lauderdale,
Manager Robert Lee is giving directions to the
DJ in the booth while Lisa runs through her songs
for the nights show. I lean back against the bar,
close my eyes, and listen. There’s something
about this lady that intrigues me.
I can’t quite figure out what it is.
I had been pleasantly surprised only minutes earlier.
Having only seen the publicity photo, I had been
totally unprepared to meet the shrinking beauty who
stepped out of the limousine. For a moment, I
wondered whether the lady standing in front of me
was a face-for-hire, who would lip-sync the songs.
And then she got behind the mike and started singing.
The voice was unmistakable. This was Lisa.
Suddenly, the DJ cut the music. Caught up in the melody
of “Mandatory Love”, she continued singing a capella.
And then I realized what had been bothering me all night.
The lady could really sing. At a time when record companies
were cashing on the resurgence of dance music, creating
acts and sending in pretty faces who could sing in the key of “off”,
here was a pretty face, with a wonderful voice singing some of
the catchiest melodies I had heard in a while.
I listened as she sang the final few bars of the song, I smiled,
and inwardly whooped with joy.
This after all, was no ordinary lady.
All my life I sang. In 1959 I went solo. I would stand in front of my house with a brightly painted wooden carnival cane and sing Al Jolson songs at the top of my lungs.
The neighbors loved me.
In 1964 neighborhood friends and I started a group called the ‘Avocado Sisters’. We sang our hearts out every afternoon and the backyard swings were our gathering spot.
In 1969 I sang with the older kids. They had the guitars and knew how to play them. I learned about harmony and the meaning of a folk song.
I always had my transistor radio tuned in to WKNR. I was IN LOVE with the Motown sound. I was the Motown sound. I sang on the bus, I sang as I walked. I would play my records over and over again until I learned every word. All the parts. Where to come in and when to leave.
In 1979 singing began a new journey for me. I was washing the dishes, singing my head off to get through the chore, and my roommate heard me. He came into the kitchen. Then and there he invited me to sing with his band ‘The Nubs’. I did.
In 1981 The Nubs were performing. Again my voice caught an ear. I was asked to sing on a demo of a high energy dance tune ‘Jump Shout’. Written and produced by Barry Blum and John Hedges. The demo was a success.
In 1982 we got a record deal with Moby Dick Records. I spent the next few years learning the art of performing, song writing, and creating wearable art. Learning to hold a stage alone. My husband, then boyfriend Robert Lee collaborated with me on all aspects of this part of my life. From to songwriting, video creation, and costume design. My costume creations would never have come to life without the mad skills of Roxanne Spring and Josie Levine, 2 clothing designers I was fortunate to know as friends and honored to collaborate with. Their understanding of all of our ideas was beyond important. All of their input and talent brought every idea to fruition.
In 1984 we created a music video to the song ‘Invisible Love’ lyrics written by Robert and I. Denise Gallant, a talented video and filmmaker, was asked to collaborate with us. Truly Denise and all of her sensibilities worked in our favor. It is such a gift when people work together to make every idea and effort count. Denise was such a gift.
I fit my visual art in whenever I could. I knew in my heart performing was not my calling still I had the desire to sing. I performed all over this planet. Things seemed to be winding down. Performing and plane rides can take a toll. Just when I was ready to change the scene I was contacted by Paul Parker, who was a singer, songwriter, and collaborator. We worked together with Ian Anthony Stevens. Fantasia Records. We put out a number of great songs. A part of my singing career I treasure. It was all creative and wonderful but it was not my first love. My ART.
My career as an international recording artist never entered my brain. I had to do it. I was meant to sing. Until I wasn’t. Enjoy this slice of my life.
Watch Lisa in action:
‘Invisible’ music video (1984)
‘Jump Shout’ music video (1983)
‘Jump Shout’ music video (alternate version)
‘Sex Dance’ music video (1984)
‘P.A.S.S.I.O.N.’ music video (1993)
© 2023 Lisa R. Fredenthal-Lee