Good Times Issue 1109 January 2 – 14, 2013
by Bob Smith
There’s always been something special about Long Island’s Lisa Matassa. Trying to bring authentic country sounds to an area not exactly known for the genre it is difficult and of itself – but from the moment this seasoned musician decided to set her sights on that style of music, the sky has been the limit for this remarkable performer.
“I always knew in my heart that country music was the music I wanted to sing, but the timing for this genre of music on Long Island never seemed to be right”, said Matassa, who was born in Manhasset and has lived most of her life on Long Island; she recently took the time to answer questions for Good Times. “I think what changed it for me was incorporating the honest, relatable lyrics in a great country song with the edginess and soul of New York rock & roll – put that together and you get Long Island Country.”
Indeed, since the release of her new nationally distributed disc, Somebody’s Baby, Matassa seems to be everywhere. She’s become a social media sensation in recent months, as the videos for her version of the holiday favorite “The Christmas Song” as well as the title track to the new disc have helped propel her career to new heights. It’s quite an achievement for a modern female vocalist who isn’t exactly an ingénue; after all, this is the Britney Spears/LeAnn Rimes era, where most new stars break out while they are in their teens. However, Matassa’s incredible voice and stunning beauty have helped to even the playing field for her in every important professional regard.
“I feel so very fortunate to live the life I’ve been living the past two years,” said Matassa of the country music career she launched not all that long ago. “I think because I never stopped singing throughout the years, I knew in my heart someday, somehow I would get the chance to live the musical career I only dreamed about. The timing wasn’t right when I was younger, and it just feels right now.”
Although, as she stated, she’s been a professional singer for some time – she charted as a dance artist during the 1980s – her influence belie the type of varied and original tack she’s taking in her own career.
“When I was growing up in south Florida, I listened to artists like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn and Barbara Streisand,” she said. “As I grew into my teen years, I loved listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd, Heart, Bon Jovi, Journey and, of course, Billy Joel.”
Unlike many area musicians, being a cover band singer hasn’t been enough for Matassa; her originality shines through even on songs others have composed. Three of the tunes on the new EP were co-written by Lisa herself (“Wouldn’t You Like to Know”, “Girl With A Rock ‘n Roll Heart”, “Learning As You Grow”), coupled with three covers made famous by other artists (Dolly Parton, Bryan Adams, and Nat King Cole). The album’s lead-off track is Lisa’s third single, “Somebody’s Baby”, which is also included in the set as a bonus music video.
The music is of such exceptional quality that Lisa is already being taken seriously as an attraction and performer. She has opened shows at some of the region’s best venues supporting Dierks Bentley, LeAnn Rimes, Thompson Square, Eric Church, and most recently, Ronnie Dunn at the huge “Vets Rock” concert at Brookhaven Amphitheatre in Farmingville.
Despite all the hoopla surrounding her career, it’s a simple pleasure that’s made it all worthwhile for a performer who clearly seems to be a country star in the making.
“The biggest thrill for me is driving in the car and hearing your song on the radio,” said Matassa. “That thrill never goes away!”