Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15: Lisa Lisa (Lisa Velez) of Cult Jam is 47-years-old today.

Born Lisa Velez, in New York City's Hell's Kitchen,  and raised in North Miami Beach, Florida, Lisa Lisa and her band Cult Jam were an urban contemporary band and one of first freestyle music groups to emerge from New York City in the 1980s. Cult Jam consisted of guitarist/bassist Alex "Spanador" Moseley, and drummer/keyboardist Mike Hughes.

Hughes and Mosley were also members of Full Force, the funk group that performed and produced the majority of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam's albums.

The group released their debut album Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force in 1985. Signed by Columbia Records, the label leased their single "I Wonder If I Take You Home" to the European division of CBS Records for the compilation album Breakdancing.

In the U.S., club DJs began playing the single from the import LP, and as a result, the U.S. division of CBS/Columbia Records, released the record. It quickly became a chart-topper on Billboard's Hot Dance/Disco chart. It then crossed over to the R&B chart where it peaked at #6, and then to the pop chart, peaking at #34 in summer 1985. The single eventually went gold.

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"I Wonder If I Take You Home" was followed by another club hit, "Can You Feel the Beat," which also went to #40 on the R&B chart in late 1985. Their third single, the ballad "All Cried Out," also went gold, going to number #3 R&B and #8 pop in summer 1986. The album, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force went platinum.

Their second album, Spanish Fly, which was released in 1987, featured two #1 pop hits, "Head to Toe" and "Lost in Emotion," both of which went gold. "Head to Toe" also reached #1 R&B for two weeks, and "Lost in Emotion" did as well. Spanish Fly went platinum, peaking at #7 on the album chart. Other singles from the album were the ballad "Someone to Love Me for Me" b/w "Spanish Fly" (#7 R&B), "Everything Will B-Fine" (#9 R&B).

In between albums they released "Go For Yours" which was featured in the movie Caddyshack II and is found on its soundtrack exclusively.

Their next album, released in 1989, Straight to the Sky, was a moderate hit that included the Top 30 pop/#3 R&B single, "Little Jackie Wants to Be a Star," as well as the club hit "Just Git It Together." (Two decades later, their hit song would inspire the name of the group Little Jackie.)

Their fourth and final album, Straight Outta Hell's Kitchen, was less of a commercial success, though it did include a hit with "Let the Beat Hit 'Em," which reached the pop Top 40 and was a #1 hit on both the R&B and club charts.

The group disbanded in 1991. Velez pursued both solo and acting careers, and Moseley and Hughes went on to other projects.

Lisa Lisa released a solo album called LL77 in 1994, which included the moderate club hit "When I Fell In Love" and the single "Skip To My Lu," which hit #38 on the R&B chart. She resurfaced circa 2001 on the Nickelodeon series Taina, in which she played the title character's mother.

Lisa Lisa released her second solo album, Life N Love, in the summer of 2009.


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