*Stacy Lattisaw recorded her first album when she was just 12 years old and gave R&B fans early ’80s faves “Let Me Be Your Angel” and “Love on a Two-Way Street,” with the fervor and feeling of woman.
With mega hits into the ’90s, particularly her duet with Johnny Gill titled “Where Do We Go From Here,” it was quite surprising for the singer, at just 23 years old, to walk away from fame.
The question of what happened and shy is answered, yet again on an episode of TV One’s “UnSung.” Tonight, April 12, the docu-series features Lattisaw and her rise to fame as a preteen and her very adult decision to leave the music business at an early age, too.
“I thought they did a fantastic job,” the singer said after screening the episode.” I was quite pleased with the outcome of the show. I watched it with a few family members and friends. We all sat and watched it and laughed and a few of us cried. It was great watching it. It brought back so many memories.”
Lattisaw said that one of the most difficult moments for her in the show was when “UnSung” covered the controversy behind her #1 hit with Gill.
“What choked me up is when I was talking about the Motown situation. Johnny and I had found out from Motown records that the song we did, the duet ‘Where Do We Go from Here,’ had only sold 30 or 40,000 copies.”
By modern-day standards, a mere 40,000 copies was not a lot and didn’t have much promise for the artists, but Lattisaw told EUR’s Lee Bailey that she didn’t believe what the record label said.
“I thought that couldn’t have been true. The song was #1 on the Billboard chart for four weeks,” she said and added that the two artists therefore didn’t earn any royalties on the song.
“That was one reason why I was like, ‘I have had enough with this music business,” she said of walking away from music fame. “It’s so cut-throat and most of it is about greed. I had become so frustrated. People ask, ‘How could you walk away from the music business with a #1 song?’ and I just say, ‘I had enough.’ I had enough of the bad management; I had had enough of the non-support at Motown.”
At about that time, the legendary label had signed another young singer named Shanice Wilson, and Lattisaw started to feel like she was being edged out. “They were giving her more support than my project,” she said. “I thought that they did not do enough for my career.
Lattisaw also spoke about one song in particular that wasn’t getting the label support she thought it deserved. She described the song “Let Me Take You Down” as her favorite recorded song. She explained that while the song was released as a single and garnered a following, the record was never released in stores.
“The song wasn’t even available to buy. It was not even in stores to purchase. I was so hurt. This was one of my best songs,” she said. “That’s unheard of. I had gotten so frustrated.”
Frustrated with her label, Lattisaw also faced issues with her management. According to the singer, as soon as she got the upfront money from the label to record an album, the money was spent.
“The music business just beat me up. I just had to walk away,” she said.
With a number of familiar beasts of the business, Lattisaw also had issues much closer to home. She revealed in the episode that she was rather pressured into show business by her parents, into a life of work and celebrity that she really didn’t want.
“At 15 years old, I had panic attacks because of the stress I was under,” she described. “I felt obligated to continue to sing and tour, but I was never happy with what I was doing. I just felt stressed out all the time. “It was my mom’s dream. I think she lived that dream through me.”
Having viewed the “UnSung” episode with her parents, Lattisaw said that her parents were aware then, just as they are now, that the young singer was stressed in her young career.
“”I love them with all my heart. I don’t resent them, but there were so many mixed emotions while watching it,” she described. “They knew the stress I was under. I did the best I could do, but they knew it was taking its toll on me. I would cry because I wanted to be home with my friends. I wanted to be in school. I wanted to be with my friends. I never got to go to the prom or to a high school game and those are supposed to be the best times of your life.”
And though she missed the thrill of being a “normal” teenager, she confessed that there were some bright components to fame, including making money and the good fortune to perform with one of her favorite entertainers, Michael Jackson.
“I think the fun times for me were of course being able to buy whatever I wanted to buy and not have to look at the price tag. Being able to buy my first car at 16 and pay cash for it, that was a fun time for me,” she said. “Ultimately, having the opportunity to meet and to perform with The Jacksons and with the best entertainer in my life time, that was the best opportunity. Being able to watch Michael perform and being able to talk to him after the show. Those were fun times for me.”
And Lattisaw, even in recalling the stress, said that she would not change her life and career path even if she could.
“It was a stepping stone,” she said. “It was preparing me for where I am today and who I am today. It has made me a better person. I’m content where I am.”
“I probably would do it all over again, even though I was unhappy,” she continued. “I think it was part of God’s plan because it has made me a better person today. It made me stronger. It made me wiser and it made me better. It also brought me to Christ.”
Lattisaw is now a minister, and is working on her first gospel CD.
“I am a minister in song. I love the Lord, and that was the void that was missing from my life. It wasn’t until I began to pray and ask God what my purpose was. The more I prayed, the more things became clearer to me.”
The singer is also writing her biography, opening a Music World Center in her home of Prince George’s County, MD, to connect people to the music industry, and is overseeing the singing career of her daughter.
“My daughter is going to be recording soon. I would never put my daughter through what I went through, and I’m not going to push her, but oh my goodness can she sing. She writes songs and she plays the piano; she is like, wow.”
Look for Music World Center coming soon to www.musicworldcenter.com.
Watch a clip from TV One’s “Unsung” episode on Stacy Lattisaw:
ON THE NET:
World Music Center: http://musicworldcenter.com/
TV 1: http://www.tvoneonline.com/