80s superstar who brought freestyle to the mainstream with hits like I Wonder if I Take You Home
Born in Hell’s Kitchen, of Puerto Rican descent, Lisa Velez got into dance pop at an early age. As a teenager, she auditioned for the Brooklyn group Full Force, and her accompanying band, Cult Jam, was formed. They released a debut album in 1985, the seminal freestyle record Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force. Together they produced a single “I Wonder If I Take You Home” that instantly saw widespread radio play and climbed the charts, hitting Billboard’s Hot Dance/Disco chart, and crossing over to the pop chart (#34) and the R&B chart (#6), going gold. The following singles “Can You Feel the Beat” and “All Cried Out” performed remarkably well, too. Their subsequent album, 1987’s Spanish Fly, incorporated throwback Motown sounds and went platinum, led by two #1 hits “Head to Toe” and “Lost in Emotion.” Next came 1989’s Straight to the Sky (with club sensation “Just Git It Together”) and their final record Straight Outta Hell’s Kitchen, featuring “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em.” Lisa Lisa then went solo, putting out 1994’s LL77, with the popular jams “When I Fell In Love” and “Skip To My Lu.” She put out a triumphant comeback album in 2009, Life ‘n Love, which contained the single “Can’t Wait,” featuring Pitbull, to the delight of her massive and dedicated fan base. Lisa Lisa is synonymous with freestyle dance music, a highly energetic figure that performs with grace.