Today’s Women Behind the Scenes spotlight is shone on Musicians and Composers Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman.
Wendy & Lisa are childhood friends who grew up in musical families. Wendy’s father was an in-demand musician and was president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in the 1980s. Lisa’s father was also a popular session musician, playing on the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds sessions, numerous records with The Carpenters as well as most of the notable Motown artists of the 1970’s. Both ladies are multi-instrumentalists.
In 1980, Lisa Coleman joined the touring band on keyboards and piano for Prince, contributing vocals to several tracks on his next few albums. Three years later, Wendy Melvoin joined the band just as recording of Purple Rain began. Obviously, both the film and the album became a phenomenon, turning Prince and his newly named band the Revolution into superstars.
Wendy & Lisa remained with Prince on some other projects for the next few years, but in 1986 they became increasingly disillusioned with Prince and his decisions to expand the band with non-musicians. By the fall of that year, they were dismissed by Prince and the Revolution was dissolved.
The following year, Wendy & Lisa recorded a self-titled album with Columbia Records and two years they released the album Fruit at the Bottom. In 1990, they released an album under Virgin Records called Eroica.
It was two years later that they worked on their first box office soundtrack, providing music for the comedy film Toys that starred Robin Williams, Michael Gambon, Joan Cusack, Robin Wright, LL Cool J and introduced Jamie Foxx. In 1995, they had a song featured on the soundtrack to the box office film Dangerous Minds and then they did the music for the 1997 films Hav Plenty and Soul Food. Two years later, they did music for the TV movie Loving Jezebel and the box office movie Foolish and then they composed the theme music to the short-lived TV series Snoops.
Over the course of the next five years, Wendy & Lisa were composers for the TV movie Prince Charming, Crossing Jordan, Carnivale and Head Cases as well as music for the films Second Skin, The Third Wheel and Juwanna Mann.
The work they have done over the last four years include the TV shows Bionic Woman, Heroes, Virtuality, Nurse Jackie and Mercy as well as the films Something New and Just Wright. Additionally, they self-released their own album called White Flags of Winter Chimneys in 2008.
The duo has won numerous ASCAP Awards for Top TV Series (Heroes, Crossing Jordan and Carnivale) and Top Box Office Films (Dangerous Minds), a 2006 Black Reel Award for Best Original Score for the film Something New as well as an Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for Nurse Jackie.
Apart from their composing career, Wendy & Lisa are often sought out for their song writing and collaboration skills, working on albums with artists such as Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, Neil Finn, Seal and Grace Jones.