By the time she was thirteen, singer Stacy Lattisaw was a chart-topping R & B sensation. The girl from Washington, D.C. with the strong, yet sweet voice made a big impression on the 1980’s music scene with a string of hits that included, “Let Me Be Your Angel,” “Love on a Two-Way Street,” and “Miracles.”
Stacy also recorded several powerhouse duets with singer and childhood friend, Johnny Gill. “Johnny and I went to junior high school together,” she said. “One day we were having a talent show in my basement and my mother heard him sing. I was already signed to Atlantic Records. My mom called the president of Atlantic, Henry Allen and within a few weeks Johnny was signed.” Several powerhouse duets with Stacy Lattisaw and Johnny Gill, including “Perfect Combination,” and “Where Do We Go from Here,” were among the 1980’s R & B duet favorites.
Many wondered why after such great success Stacy walked away from the music industry. I talked with her about her life, her success, her decision to leave the music industry, and what she’s doing now.
It wasn’t all bad
Despite the many disappointments in the music business, Stacy stated that she did have some good experiences including being the opening act for the 1981 Jackson’s Triumph tour. “The entire Jackson family was there. It was a tremendous opportunity, although, at first, I tried to pass on it,” she said. “I really just wanted to stay home with my friends.” Although it took some convincing by her parents and her manager to do the thirteen-week tour, she was glad she went. “After the tour was over, I received a call from Michael Jackson. At first, I didn’t believe it was him.” She chuckled. “Michael Jackson called to wish me a Happy 16th birthday. That is one of my fondest memories.”
It’s no secret that the music industry has many downfalls. Many young artists dive into the music business with high hopes and big dreams, but are often met with disappointments.
Entering the music business at twelve years old, Stacy Lattisaw wasn’t sure what to expect. She wanted to sing, but she didn’t realize she would have to give up so much of her time and her life. “People only see the glitz and glamour. They don’t know the sacrifices I had to make,” she said. “I had to be homeschooled from eighth to twelfth grade. I was always on the road, performing here and there, and I really wanted to be home with my friends playing volleyball, double-dutch, and other things kids did.”
After a few years, ten albums, and several hits later, the entertainment life was taking a toll on Stacy. She couldn’t understand why she was suffering from bouts of depression when she had accomplished so much and had so many material things. “I felt an emptiness inside me,” she said. “One day I dropped to the floor and I began to pray. I asked God to show me what His will was for me. The more I prayed the more God revealed to me what he called me to do. That’s when I made the decision to walk away from the music industry and I never looked back.”
Stacy won’t hesitate to tell anyone that it was her relationship with God that carried her through the most difficult periods in her life. And that all that she has endured has brought her to her life’s purpose. “When you find out who God is, that’s when you find out who you are,” she said. “Everything that I went through, I believe, has made me who I am.” Stacy considers all of her experiences, good and bad, part of her testimony that she uses to glorify God’s power. “God uses the things that we go through and our misery becomes our ministry.”
What Stacy’s doing now
It’s been nearly eighteen years since Stacy left the music industry. Today, Stacy has an even stronger voice and she’s singing a sweeter song. She’s lifting her voice in praise and ministering words of faith. “I believe God has sent me to mend broken hearts,” she said. Stacy speaks at churches, workshops, and women’s conferences around the country. “I have a passion to work with women and children,” She said. She founded two programs, Women Walking in Authority and Believers Building Bridges. Women Walking in Authority was established to create a place of safety for abused women, and Believers Building Bridges is a youth empowerment program. Stacy speaks to kids at schools in the Washington D.C. area about the importance of staying in school, practicing abstinence, having integrity, and being a leader.
With all that she is doing, Stacy remains a dedicated wife of 19 years to husband Kevin Jackson and mother to their two teenagers, Kevin Jr. 17 and Kayla, 14. Both teens have strong interest in the music business. Kevin Jr. writes and Kayla sings inspirational music. They both play piano. Despite Stacy’s unpleasant experiences in the music industry, she is very supportive of her daughter’s desire to pursue a singing career; however, she insists that she and Kevin Sr. will guide her career with watchful eyes. “No one will manage Kayla, but us,” she said firmly. Stacy said the main keys to surviving in the music business is having knowledge about the business of it and having a strong support team that is reliable, but most of all, trustworthy. “My parents didn’t know the business and because of that we were taken advantage of.”
The family is preparing to release Kayla’s first single, “Different,” written by Kevin Jr. “The song is about me,” Stacy said. It will be available on iTunes in the fall. There is no doubt that Stacy is a proud parent, but she is adamant about her daughter enjoying her youth, and not being thrust into the music business without having balance. “Those years were not good for me. I would never put that type of stress and pressure on either of my kids,” she said. I want my daughter to enjoy her teen years, high school, and prom. Those are supposed to be the best times of your life.”
I Am Not the Same Girl: Renewed is the title of her new book, as well as a testament of who Stacy Lattisaw is today. In the book, she comes straight from the heart and keeps it real about her experiences. “I don’t consider myself a writer, but God put it on my heart to tell my story.”
For those interested in the music industry, she gives the do’s and don’ts and tells the importance of having a good support system, an entertainment lawyer, good accountants, and others that you trust. “I was beat out of a lot of money,” she said. “The music industry is so cut throat. The ones that you think you can trust are not always the ones you can trust.”
It’s evident that Stacy Lattisaw has found her purpose in life, and she is walking the walk, talking the talk, and singing the song. She’s not worried about what you heard. She’s told you what it is. She is confident in who she is and where she is going from here. “When people ask me why I left the industry I say, God called me and I answered the call.”
Visit Stacy’s Website
About The Author
Telishia Berry is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of CW Magazine.