I've been a fan of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman's since "Purple Rain" -- they were members of "The Revolution" then -- and still adore their music. They have a number of albums out: Wendy and Lisa, Fruit on the Bottom, Eroica, and Girl Bros, as well as some remixes (RE-mix-IN-CARNATION) and two greatest hits albums (Only in my Dreams in the US, and Are You My Baby in Europe). They're currently doing the soundtracks, for movies and for the tv show Crossing Jordan. I try not to watch too much tv, but I started watching it for the music -- which is wonderful! -- and have since kept watching it for the show itself. Check these two out!
I really can't say enough about these two. You can find their music on another obsession of mine, eBay; get everything you can on there. Do it NOW! But don't blame me if you get addicted -- either to Wendy and Lisa or eBay! ;)
For Melvoin, 23, and Lisa Coleman, 27, the easiest thing in the world for them to do would have been to bounce back from the split with their own album full of Prince-like funk work-outs. Instead, their debut platter, Wendy and Lisa is only vaguely reminiscent of His Royal Badness' now familiar sound.
"People probably expected a Prince-like album from us," confesses Coleman. "But we wanted to stay away from that. We had to trust our own creativity." Melvoin stresses that steering clear of Prince's sound was not a conscious effort, just something that occured quite instinctively. "There comes a time when you have to trust whhat you have learned your whole life and going and doing that, instead of taking Prince's whole philosophy and repeating it," she says. "We are trying to get better at the things we all learned together and apploy them to what we have on our own."
Melvoin is not just merely philosophizing, their debut album is a successful potpourri of musical styles. The duo has taken a small dose of funk and mixed it together with classical, jazz, and above all else, pop sensibilities, to create a truly satisfying album with commercial appeal.
"The new album is just like a chapter in a book," romanticizes Melvoin. "We had just closed the chapter to the time we had spent together with Prince and this album just sort of chronicles the time after Prince and where are now, musically." If Melvoin and Coleman were to approach their careers as chapters in a book, then their history together could fill several volumes.
"It seemed natural for us to work together because we have known each other for so long," says Melvoin, whose father, like Coleman's was a top-notch Los Angeles studio musician. "Lisa remembers coming over to my house with her brothers and sisters and seeing me and my twin sister in diapers," she says laughing. "We've complemented each other musically for years. We've been writing together for a long time. It just makes sense to work with Lisa."
Lisa Coleman started working with Prince in 1979, during the recording of his Dirty Mind album. A friend, who was employed by Prince's management, told her that Prince was looking for a new keyboard player. At the time, she was working as a piano teacher and shipping clerk, and figured it couldn't hurt to send him a tape. "He liked the tape I sent him," recalls Coleman. "He called me and I went for a jam session with him and it worked out fine. So I packed my bags and moved to Minneapolis."
A couple of years later, Melvoin was visiting Coleman in New York City during a break in the 1999 tour. "I was practicing guitar in Lisa's hotel room and Prince heard me playing and asked me to play him something -- literally audition for him," says Melvoin.
"I was nervous and scared, but I tried to forget about my fears and see what I had and he saw it in me and gave me a shot."
Unlike other musicians he had worked with in the past, Prince gave Wendy and Lisa a shot at working with him in a more collaborative capacity. "The visionary that he is, he calls upon people for their skills and tries to build his own thing from that," elaborates Melvoin. "He was collaborating with us right before Purple Rain and he liked it that way at the time, and now he is doing most of his work alone again. But at the time it put him in a different place."
At the moment, Melvoin and Coleman are anjoying their own place on the music charts. Their first single, "Waterfall" has been bouncing up and down the Top 100, but they are secure that the album contains at least two more potential Top Forty singles. They also will be out on the road in March, if they can fill a couple of key positions in their touring band.
One must wonder how Coleman and Melvoin have successfully sustained their life-long friendship and fruitful musical endeavors. According to Melvoin, it has been a combination of many things, mainly mutual respect. "I think that we both agree that we are like a bicycle built for two," she laughs. "I really like the way that Lisa plays -- I am a big fan of hers and she teaches me a lot. Likewise we feed of each other -- we know how to knock down each others' walls. It is a lot easier when emotionally and professionally you experience the same things. A lot of times it doesn't work for people, but in this circumstance it is working for us now."
With a collectively positive attitude and their eyes fixed straight ahead towards the future, in retrospect, what is the greatest lesson they learned from their time with Prince?
"A lot of professionalism," Melvoin quickly answers. "That's an easy one for me. I mean, when you are in that kind of situation you really have got to keep your wits about you. Professionalism has a lot to do with how productive you can be and I think we have taken that lesson to heart, and I hope...no, correct that. I KNOW it shows. If this album doesn't sell millions, that's okay, we have a long career ahead of us. I don't think we are going to have problems living up to what we have done in the past."
- from Teenage, February 1988.
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This page last updated 23 March 2004.
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Lisa's home page.