Lisa Matassa has got a lot to be thankful for these days. She's just released a new EP titled "Somebody's Baby," with a single by the same name that has recently broken into the Billboard's Country Indicator chart (which measures airplay on non-Nielsen BDS-monitored stations).
"I'm really happy about it. In this business, you really have to make sure that you keep your face and your name out there in a positive light. For me, we had done two different versions of a few of the songs that were on my previous 'Sunrise Highway' LP. Two of them are on the EP - 'Girl With A Rock & Roll Heart,' and 'Wouldn't You Like To Know.' We did them in a couple of 'New York' versions, which are a bit edgier. We put those on there, along with "Somebody's Baby," and a live version of "I Will Always Love You."
Matassa credits the team around her for helping her pursue her dream - including a very key group, her family. She tells Billboard they are behind her all the way. "They are, and I would be lying when I say that I would give it up all tomorrow if they weren't supporting me. I think it was easy for them to give me their blessing because they had seen me go through so much musically in writing and performing to keep the craft going. My kids have known for so long that I have loved country music, and that is where I have wanted to be. I wanted to be a country music artist, but when I was younger, the timing wasn't right for me, but now it is."
Matassa's musical background is as varied as the places where she grew up. "I was born in Manhasset, New York on Long Island. I was about six years old when my father got a job in Florida, so he moved down there. He found a house, then we moved down about a month later. We stayed there until the summer of my 16th birthday. So, I was raised in the south, I grew up listening to country and southern rock, and that's where I got my feet wet with music. Ironically, I studied opera at eight years old, and was classically trained as an opera singer. I thought I would do theater, but as I got older, I wanted to play in front of the big crowds." Matassa was listening to a wide variety of artists, as she relates. "I was listening to Heart, Journey, and Lynyrd Skynyrd, so my style got a little more of an edge to it," she recalls, while adding her radio also picked up some classic country sounds. I loved Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Barbara Mandrell, I was a huge Hee Haw fan, I used to watch that every Saturday on television, then as I got older, it was Alabama."
She says she feels that country music today is a representation of how she has always listened to music. "I look at country music and what it's doing now, and what rock had done years ago. There are so many branches. You've got today's country, with Taylor Swift and Keith Urban, the rockin' side with the Eli Young Band, the honky tonk, bluegrass, and classic sounds of country. It's just so exciting."
Matassa is currently promoting the single, and plans to work on a new full-length disc in 2013. She's also excited about the upcoming holidays. She says that with the impact of Hurricane Sandy, there is plenty to be thankful for. "There are areas around my hometown that have completely changed, and will never be the same again. But, the good thing about Long Islanders and New Yorkers, in general, is that we always band together when times are tough. We make sure we get through it together. There are so many people helping other. There's so much support from everyone in the community."