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Interview: Musician and Songwriter Lisa Coppola

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It is my pleasure to introduce Lisa Coppola. She’s a very talented singer/songwriter and there are so many things I want to ask her.

I have to talk about her awesome solo career and, of course, her chart-topping single “Just a Little Time” that is doing great in the U.S., the U.K., and elsewhere. Coppola has done all sorts of interesting things in the music industry over the years – I Googled her background, went to her website, YouTube channel, and went back and listened to her interview again on mutual friend Ray Powers’ radio show. Since I initially heard her on New Visions Radio, where I’m a host, it seems only appropriate to include that she is the associate program director and am very glad to have her as part of the family.

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So, let’s start at the beginning. How did your career in music begin?

I have been singing since I was a little tiny thing. My mom said I used to hum in tune to the radio when she was changing my diapers. She said she used to think to herself, “Woah, that is pretty interesting, this kid is singing on pitch.”

I sang in the choir in grammar school and I think that was the first place I noticed I was louder than anyone else. I don’t know that louder was necessarily better, but it did stand out! LOL

Lisa Coppola in The Click My first cover gig, I was 16! Underage playing in a nightclub in Weehawken, yup that’s how I roll. When I got out of high school, I landed a gig with a successful cover band at the time called The Click.

Lisa Coppola in The Party DollsFrom there, I did my first stint with The Party Dolls, a fabulous show group that had costumes, wigs and choreography. I call that Tom Nigra vocal boot camp. Tom was the manager/agent/co-founder/vocal arranger who made sure we got things right. It was an “A” band on the cover circuit which was HUGE at the time. You had to be “on.”

You were in several groups – The Party Dolls, Broad – [and] you did some work with Billy Joel; there was some work with Saturday Night Live I think and at some point you wanted a solo career. Walk us through what you had to do to go from working with others to a solo career. Just about all my creative ventures have been solo, but I have a feeling it would be different if you’re used to collaborating and then going solo. Can you give people details about how that shift is made?

I like being in a band and being solo, but in my humble opinion, it is easier being solo. When you are in a band or other collaborative effort, the final end product contains input from all the partners. In a solo thing, it still does, but I know if my name is on it, then I have to make sure it is a representation of what I want to be out there. Ultimate responsibility, I guess you would say.

Lisa Coppola

As a huge Heart fan, I have to ask about the Queens of Heart Band. I spotted your demo reel and you’re wonderful. Anyone reading this who is a fan of Heart should check it out. How did this band come about and why Heart? 

I LOVED Heart while I was growing up. I sang those songs when I was cutting my teeth on rock and roll. Ann and Nancy Wilson were strong role models because they had swagger and I just love the music. The band was not together long, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted.

You’re described as having a four and a half octave vocal range. For me and the other amateurs, what does that mean and who else do we know that has that kind of range?

Ann Wilson has that kind of range. It means you can sing “in the basement” low and super high dolphin notes and everything in between. LOL. You can test the theory on a piano. I know a lot of people can do it – you just have to be fearless enough to push the envelope. I love using all of that range. When I was substituting for The Party Dolls after leaving full time, it came in handy. Blonde wig was the high voice, brunette wig was mid and the redhead was the lower voice. It is fun to shift gears like that, same as changing costumes.

I’ve also reviewed several blues albums for Bongo Boy Records, including one of your songs with Red Bank Blues Band. I love blues and jazz too. Do you want to tell us about your blues music?

With RB3/The Red Bank Blues Band, we cover everything from super classic blues like Robert Johnson, up and through Etta James and more current music such as the Tedeschi Trucks Band. Of course, in the blues band I get to play with my chops and not hold back. I use that whole range we were talking about because if you feel it, you do it. There is a freedom in it that is different from any other genre of music.

I’ve heard several of your songs and, of course, I see lots of posts about your music by you and our mutual friends on Facebook and other social media sites. So, I’d agree with the description that your music is a cross between love-gone-bad country and heartfelt, confrontational rock. This isn’t where you started in your career, so how did you settle on these types of music?

I wouldn’t say “settle.” It is what I hear in my head, so that is what I write. My first concert was Tammy Wynette at an outdoor festival when I was very young. Rock came later when I saw my first rock concert, Van Halen, when I was in high school. David Lee Roth was wearing a pair of chaps with his behind out and clearly visible. I will NEVER forget that! It also taught me that while I will never wear a pair of chaps showing my butt cheeks, showmanship is extremely important.

One of my favorite songs of yours is “Stuck to My Shoe” – the visual when I heard that the first time was priceless and every time I hear it, I smile. Can you tell the readers about how this song came to be?

Well, this was about a breakup with a guy who would not get the hint. He was my fiancé and the relationship had gone south (way beyond the point of no return) but he just would not move out. And he would not move out.

Then he finally moved out, but he still kept showing up. I made light of the situation in the song, but at the time it was a tad frustrating. People seem to relate to this song quite a bit. I guess too many of us have been there.

Now something that we must talk about is “Just a Little Time.” This is your current song and it is doing great online. Every day I see it on Facebook, being shared by friends, showing up on request lines, and it seems like I heard something about you getting a screen shot of it along with a Bonnie Raitt song on a best sellers list. Is that a story you’d like to share? We’d also like to know the story behind the song and about your co-writer John Taglieri.

There it is in all its glory!!! I realize there are other artists shown there but all I see is Bonnnnnniiiiiiieeeeeeee! Bonnie Raitt. That was extremely exciting.

bonnie-raitt-screenshot

This song was inspired by the same guy “Stuck to My Shoe” is about. This one is different in that it was prompted by a plea for him to put down the phone. I think all of us can relate to the fact that we are so busy these days and we are all tethered to texting and email. I think we are all on call 24/7. “Just a Little Time” is about trying to find some time for relationships.

John Taglieri is about as close to a superstar as you’re going to get in the indie world and working with him is an absolute joy. Throughout his 16-year career, John Taglieri has taken the DIY concept to an extreme level, releasing 14 albums on his own terms, with no major financial backing in place, playing thousands of shows from New England to Los Angeles to Europe. With two Billboard-charting releases to his name ([including] 2013’s Southern Paradise), a chart-topping single on Amazon (the #1 “Make Me Believe”), a top-selling EP on iTunes (Days Like These), and over 25,000 CDs sold, the multi-genre singer/songwriter/producer has managed to successfully do things his way and live to tell about it.

I noticed on your Facebook posts that you’re a voting member for the Grammys. Would you mind sharing with blog visitors how that works? We see the Grammys on TV, but for the music loving public it’s a mystery how a song goes from being on the radio or for sale on iTunes and Amazon to winning a Grammy. So, how does that happen?

The Awards process begins with NARAS members and record companies submitting entries, which are then screened for eligibility and category placement. The Academy’s voting members, all involved in the creative and technical processes of recording, then participate in:

  1. The nominating process that determines the five finalists in each category
  2. The final voting process which determines the GRAMMY winners

Members are notified via email about the submission process. As some information changes from year to year, details regarding how to submit will be posted on GRAMMYPro.com just prior to the opening of the submission process. Starting July 1, eligible members will find the link to the online entry process site on their member dashboard when they log in to GRAMMYPro.com. All voting members who have a valid membership prior to the membership deadline receive a ballot. The first round ballot is mailed mid-October and final ballot is mailed in mid-December.

I saved the biggest news for last – is there any big news about “Just a Little Time” that you’d like to share?

Well, I got on the first round Grammys ballot as well as a first round nomination for the Nashville Universe Music Awards. The final round ballots for the Grammys are announced mid-December. I’ve got my fingers crossed. Will let you know how we do.

Congratulations on making the first round and I’ll definitely keep a watch out for news about the final round ballots. It’s been great having you with me, Lisa, and thank you for taking the time to share information about your music with us.

This was a blast, Nikki. Thank you so much for having me and for asking such insightful questions.

Photo credits: Lisa Coppola

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About NikkiLeigh

Nikki Leigh works as a social media publicist, award winning author of almost 3 dozens books, and the CEO of Rock God Multimedia Group. She works with writers at all stages of the writing and promotional process and with businesses to promote their businesses - http://www.localbusinesspromo.info. She is a certified love & relationship coach and host of Ready for Love radio - http://www.readyforloveradio.com/.