Lisa Lisa

‘Whenever I’m on Stage, it’s a Ball’

One of the most dynamic and effervescent talents to have emerged during the 1980s, Lisa Lisa (aka Lisa Velez), is still vigorously vibrant as she is constantly touring, acting, producing and recording. 

Lisa Lisa, born in New York City as the youngest of 10 children, began her career at age 13. Along with her band The Cult Jam, she went on to record platinum urban and freestyle hits such as “All Cried Out,” “Lost in Emotion,” “Head to Toe” and “Can You Feel the Beat,” just to name a few. The Cult Jam consisted of guitarist Alex “Spanador” Moseley and Mike Hughes on drums and keys.

Besides her titanic musical career, Lisa Lisa has appeared on Broadway and off Broadway (“West Side Story” and “Barrio Babes”), as well as on television (the Nickelodeon series “Taina” and “Law and Order”). 

Extremely impressed by her kindness and humbleness, I had a conversation with the celebrated artist and was happy to find out about the new projects she has in store for her fans, whom she greatly appreciates.


Besides your astronomical music career, I noticed that you’ve also done Broadway and television.
Yes, I did. I’ve done it all.

That is so awesome. Do you have a favorite song that you enjoy performing?
I love performing all of my music, but the one that takes me there is “All Cried Out,” because I get to sing my heart out. Especially live, it’s wonderful to do. Vocally it’s a great song to sing.

Do you have any brand-new projects on the horizon?
I am in the studio recording a new project. I am also doing a lot of acting. I’m doing a Web series called “Becoming Ricardo,” and I play the mama on the show. I’m in the process of filming two others, but I’m still on tour. I’ve never stopped. I’ll leave on a Friday and come back on a Monday. I do my concerts; that’s what I’m doing. First and foremost I play mommy. First and foremost!
So you are constantly touring. Anywhere in the New York area?
Constantly. I haven’t stopped. Recently I did Radio City, The Garden. We also do The Emporium out here in Long Island. We do it all out here. In February I’m doing Mohegan again, and in the summer I think we are doing The Taj Mahal.

When you tour now, do you find it very different than touring in the ‘80s?
Oh, of course.

The entire music industry is different.
Way different.

Was it more fun to do then or now?
I still have fun no matter where I’m at. I still have fun. I was a kid when I started. Back then we had the tour buses, everyone traveling with us. I would be on tour anywhere from nine months to a year. We went all over the world. You know, things are different now. Back then there were endorsements. It was a lot of fun. We had a whole bunch of hoopla hollering at us. People today don’t really go to concerts. They don’t pay to see all of that, they just listen to the radio or watch a video channel. Everything is completely different now, but I still have fun. Anytime I get on a stage, it’s a ball.
How did you get your start?
I was a kid. I was only 13 when I met Full Force. They took me in, made the group Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam, and we were just recording. We were recording for a small label, Personal Records, and they put us on a compilation album. The compilation was released overseas, and it did crazy well out there, and then was brought back to the States a year later. It blew up over here, and Columbia Records picked us up.

That had to be a trip, you being only 13 years old.
It was. Back then nobody really focused on age, or the fact that you were a female. Everything was about the music.

Do you write your music?
Yes, I wrote, co-produced. All of us did everything together.

Do you ever hear from Cult Jam?
Still do. I was just with them last week. We still tour together. We do the live shows; when we have the band with us, we’re always together on stage. When I’m doing gigs that these venues can’t afford to pay everyone, then I’ll do it.

It’s hard. The kids don’t really go out to clubs anymore, especially on Long Island.
They don’t! It’s crazy. Everything is so different now.

You have a tremendous gay fan base.
Thank you.

Do you ever perform at the gay events?
OF COURSE! I never stopped. I’ve done every and any Gay Pride show there is. I’ve done it out here, I’ve done it in San Francisco, I’ve done it in Chicago, I’ve done in Miami. I’ve done all of them. And I’m still doing it. If you want me, call me!

Is there anything else that you’d like to put out there
Thank you for thinking of me, #1. I really, really appreciate the fans. They are the ones that keep us out there. If you look back in the day, it’s so different than it is now. That’s why I consider it classic. It has a longevity, people want to hear it, and you guys keep it going. Thank you so much.


Eileen Shapiro

Best selling author of "The Star Trek Medical Reference Manual", and feature celebrity correspondent for Get Out Magazine, Louder Than War, and Huffington Post contributor, I've interviewed artists from Adam Ant, Cyndi Lauper, and Annie Lennox to Jennifer Hudson, Rick Springfield, LeAnn Rimes, and thousands in between. My interviews challenge the threat of imagination....

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