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Carlisle, Belinda

Belinda Carlisle

Singer

Belinda Carlisle first gained fame as the lead singer for the Go-Go's, a hugely popular all-female group. The band's wholesome, fun image and lighthearted songs, including "We Got the Beat," "Our Lips Are Sealed," and "Head Over Heels" attracted legions of fans. But by 1985 the act had gone stale. The Go-Go's disbanded and Carlisle embarked on a successful solo career. "The Go-Go's was pretty much me when I was younger," she explained to Todd Gold of People. "But as I got older, I got kind of tired of being cute, bubbly and effervescent all day. I just didn't feel like being bouncy anymore."

Carlisle, the oldest of Walt and Joanne Carlisle's seven children, was raised in California's San Fernando Valley. After graduating from high school in 1976, she began frequenting Hollywood's new wave and punk rock music clubs, where she met Charlotte Caffey, Jane Wiedlin, Gina Schock, and Kathy Valentine. They formed the Go-Go's "for laughs," Carlisle told Gold. "I had never been in any other band. That was my first time singing." Eventually they acquired a manager and were booked to tour England. During the tour they recorded "We Got the Beat," a single that sold 50,000 copies in the United States. In 1981 the group signed with I.R.S. Records and later that same year released Beauty and the Beat. The debut album sold over two million copies and topped the charts for six weeks. Their next effort, Vacation, was less successful, and Talk Show, released in 1984, flopped.

Wiedlin announced that she was leaving the quintet, and Carlisle and Caffey soon followed. The Go-Go's, immersed in conflict and succumbing to the pressures of fame, officially split up in May of 1985. Intent on pursuing a solo career, Carlisle decided to straighten out her personal life. While the Go-Go's had enjoyed what Steve Pond of Rolling Stone called a "cotton candy image," several members of the group, including Carlisle, had serious substance abuse problems.

Carlisle's plan for turning her life around included joining Alcoholics Anonymous, dieting, exercising regularly, and seeing a vocal coach three times a week. She also met the man who would become her husband, businessman and former White House staff member Morgan Mason (the son of actors James and Pamela Mason), in 1984. The day after attending a concert together, Carlisle and Mason began sharing Mason's condo. The two embarked on an idyllic romance; married in 1986, they had a son, James Duke, in 1992.

Inspired by her newfound love and her renewed physical state, Carlisle began work on her debut solo album, Belinda, which was released in 1986. An assortment of love songs, Belinda spawned the hit track "Mad About You" and also featured such tunes as "I Need a Disguise," "Shot in the Dark," and "I Feel the Magic." Former Go-Go's members Caffey and Wiedlin helped with the LP, which many critics found reminiscent of the band's early work. "If you liked the Go-Go's, you'll get a kick out of Belinda," Jon Young noted in Creem. "Carlisle remains an optimistic bundle of energy, never less than charming."

Comparing Carlisle's solo efforts to her work with the Go-Go's, a People reviewer found that the songstress "sounds as peppy and wholesomely sexy on her own as she did with the band. … Producer Mike Lloyd helped Carlisle maintain another of the Go-Go's qualities, the ability to evoke the sound of early rock without seeming to parody it." Belinda was praised by audiences as well as critics.

Carlisle's career gained momentum in 1988 when the hit single "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" from her second solo effort, Heaven on Earth, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Another album firmly rooted in the pop tradition, it featured, according to a People reviewer, "a sleeker and tougher" sounding Carlisle. The critic found that the songs on Heaven on Earth were "lacking such qualities as wit … and aural appeal," but praised Carlisle for providing a "more aggressive, focused delivery" than in her days with the Go-Go's.

Noting that Carlisle's "passion for fluffy dance music has clearly hamstrung her," Rolling Stone critic Deborah Kirk summed up the lukewarm reception to the singer's 1991 LP Live Your Life Be Free. The album reaffirmed Carlisle's reputation as "the high priestess of sugar pop," in Kirk's words, and had critics decrying her failure to offer meaningful lyrics and an innovative sound. Entertainment Weekly's Stephanie Zacharek found that the LP "ultimately chokes on its aggressively friendly sound and its dribbling sentiment."

Live Your Life Be Free fared better in Europe, where it made it onto the top ten on the British album charts and sold a respectable number of copies in Australia. The record, however, would be Carlisle's last for MCA, the label she had been with since the beginning of her solo career in 1986. In 1992 Virgin Records, her new label, released The Best of Belinda, Volume 1, a career retrospective of her solo work, and then Real, her fifth solo effort, in 1993. Carlisle worked with Caffey again on this record, which had more of a rock edge, in contrast to her previous pop style. "I wanted to make the type of album that I would buy," she told Billboard writer Craig Rosen. "My tastes don't necessarily run along the tastes of top 40. They are a little bit more raw, and I really wanted to get back where I came from." To signify her new attitude, Carlisle posed for the album cover for Real without any makeup. "I just thought, ‘Why not, I'll do it, and if it's bad, I can just do it over again,’" she told Rosen, and then acknowledged that she was pleased with the final result. The first single, "It's Too Real (Big Scary Animal)," did well in Britain and Australia but received little promotion in the United States. From this point forward, Carlisle's records would consistently fare better in Europe than in her own country.

Carlisle and her husband moved to France in early 1994 with their toddler son, the same year that Return to the Valley of the Go-Go's was released, a double album best-of compilation that also included three new tracks. The band reunited for a tour that fall, but disbanded once again. Music critic Jon Pareles, reviewing a New York City show for the New York Times, wrote about an exuberant performance in which Carlisle kicked off her high heels to dance onstage, and the band "had the audience pogoing, hopping up and down the way fans did when punk-rock was new."

Carlisle's next solo record, A Woman and a Man, marked her debut on the Chrysalis label in 1996, but it was not released at all in the United States. Several of its singles did quite well in Europe, however, and the record was picked up for distribution by a U.S. label in 1997. One track that was left off both versions was "Falling Into You," which Chrysalis executives had nixed; the song found its way to Céline Dion and went on to become the title track of the Canadian singer's worldwide number one album in 1996. Following A Place on Earth: Greatest Hits, a greatest hits package released in Britain, Carlisle reunited with her former bandmates once again for a 2001 tour in support of a new record, God Bless the Go-Go's.

For the Record …

Born August 17, 1958, in Hollywood, CA; daughter of Walt (a contractor) and Joanne (a homemaker) Carlisle; married Morgan Mason (a talent agent), April 12, 1986; children: James Duke.

Singer with pop group the Go-Go's, 1978-85, and for reunion albums and tours, 1994, 2001; solo recording artist, 1985-; modeled for Almay cosmetics; appeared in stage production of Grease at a California regional playhouse, 1983, and in film Swing Shift, 1984.

Addresses: Agent—c/o William Morris Agency, Inc., 1350 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10019. Record company—MCA, 70 Universal City Plaza, 3rd Fl., Universal City, CA 91605.

Carlisle retreated from public view for the next few years. With Mason and their son, she divided her time between the south of France, England, and Austria, and continued to take French lessons. In 2007 she released her first solo album in a decade, Voila, consisting entirely of French-language songs. Carlisle covered some classic tunes from Edith Piaf ("La Vie en Rose"), Serge Gainsbourg ("Bonnie et Clyde"), and Jacques Brel ("Ne Me Quitte Pas"), perfecting her French on the record with the help of both a tutor and an in-studio coach. The songs also featured contributions from two notable names: singer Natacha Atlas provided back-up vocals and electronic-music legend Brian Eno played keyboards. Carlisle admitted her newest album was met with skepticism in her adopted homeland. "The attitude of the French towards the songs I've done is very mixed," she told Times of London writer Sophie Heawood. "Some people think it's great, some people don't think it's great at all. In this country you just don't touch Gainsbourg and Piaf. And I understand that."

Despite the success of her broad-ranging solo career—which has endured twice as long as her stint with the Go-Go's—Carlisle will be forever remembered as the pioneering act's magnetic, photogenic frontwoman. Pareles commented on their 2001 reunion, finding them onstage in Central Park "happy to be sassy and tuneful, not raunchy. Punk can never be so untutored again. But one thing hasn't changed. In 1978 an all-female, self-directed rock band wasn't unheard of, but it was rare to the point of novelty. A generation later, it still is."

Selected discography

With the Go-Go's

Beauty and the Beat, I.R.S., 1981.

Vacation, I.R.S., 1982.

Talk Show, I.R.S., 1984.

Return to the Valley of the Go-Go's, I.R.S., 1994.

God Bless the Go-Go's, Beyond Music, 2001.

Solo albums

Belinda, I.R.S., 1986.

Heaven On Earth, MCA, 1988.

(With George Harrison and others) Runaway Horses, MCA, 1989.

Live Your Life Be Free, MCA, 1991.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1992.

The Best of Belinda, Volume 1, Virgin, 1992.

Real, Virgin, 1993.

A Woman and a Man, Chrysalis, 1996.

A Place on Earth: Greatest Hits, Virgin, 1999.

Voila, Rykodisc, 2007.

Also released video Belinda Live!, 1989.

Sources

Periodicals

Billboard, October 23, 1993, p. 18.

Creem, October 1986.

Entertainment Weekly, October 25, 1991.

Interview, July 1985.

Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1985.

Newsweek, February 12, 2007, p. 71.

New York, February 5, 1990.

New York Times, December 9, 1994; June 25, 2001.

People, October 26, 1981; June 16, 1986; June 23, 1986; November 23, 1987; February 13, 1989; January 13, 1992; May 18, 1992.

Rolling Stone, July 5, 1984; July 3, 1986; August 28, 1986; November 6, 1986; July 14, 1988; January 23, 1992.

Times (London, England), February 9, 2007, p. 17.

Vanity Fair, February 1992.

Variety, May 18, 1988.

—Denise Wiloch and Carol Brennan

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"Carlisle, Belinda." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Carlisle, Belinda." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/carlisle-belinda-0

Carlisle, Belinda

Belinda Carlisle

Singer

For the Record

Selected discography

Sources

Belinda Carlisle first gained fame as the lead singer for the Go-Gos, a hugely popular all female group. The bands wholesome, fun image and light-hearted songs, including We Got the Beat, Our Lips Are Sealed, and Head Over Heels, attracted legions of fans. But by 1985, the act had gone stale. The Go-Gos disbanded and Carlisle embarked on a successful solo career. The Go-Gos was pretty much me when I was younger, she explained to Todd Gold of People. But as I got older, I got kind of tired of being cute, bubbly and effervescent all day. I just didnt feel like being bouncy anymore.

Carlisle, the oldest of Walt and Joanne Carlisles seven children, was raised in Californias San Fernando Valley. After graduating from high school in 1976, she began frequenting Hollywoods new wave and punk rock music clubs, where she met Charlotte Caffey, Jane Wiedlin, Gina Schock, and Kathy Valentine. They formed the Go-Gos for laughs, Carlisle told Gold. I had never been in any other band. That was my first time singing. Eventually they acquired a manager and were booked to tour England. During the tour they recorded We Got the Beat, a single that sold 50,000 copies in the United States. In 1981, the group signed with I.R.S. Records and later that same year released Beauty and the Beat. The debut album sold over two million copies and topped the charts for six weeks. Their next effort, Vacation, was less successful; Talk Show, released in 1984, flopped.

Wiedlin announced that she was leaving the quintet, and Carlisle and Caffey soon followed. The Go-Gos immersed in conflict and succumbing to the pressures of fameofficially split up in May of 1985. Intent on pursuing a solo career, Carlisle decided to straighten out her personal life. While the Go-Gos enjoyed what Steve Pond of Rolling Stone called a cotton candy image, several members of the group, including Carlisle had serious substance abuse problems.

Carlisles plan for turning her life around included joining Alcoholics Anonymous, dieting, exercising regularly, and seeing a vocal coach three times a week. She also met the man who would become her husband, businessman and former White House staff member Morgan Mason, in 1984. The day after attending a concert together, Carlisle and Masonthe son of actors James and Pamela Masonbegan sharing Masons condo. The two embarked on an idyllic romance; married in 1986, they had their first child, James Duke, in 1992.

Inspired by her newfound love and her renewed physical stateshe lost 60 poundsCarlisle began work on her debut solo album, Belinda, which was released in 1986. An assortment of love songs, Belinda spawned

For the Record

Born August 17, 1958, in Hollywood, CA; daughter of Walt (a contractor) and Joanne (a homemaker) Carlisle; married Morgan Mason (a talent agent), April 12, 1986; children: James Duke.

Singer with pop group the Go-Gos, 1978-85; solo recording artist, 1985. Has modeled for Almay cosmetics. Appeared in a stage production of Grease at a California regional playhouse, 1983, and in the film Swing Shift, 1984.

Awards: Grammy Award nomination for best pop vocal performance, 1988, for Heaven Is a Place on Earth.

Addresses: Home Hollywood, CA. Agent c/o William Morris Agency, Inc., 1350 Sixth Ave., New York, NY 10019. Record company MCA, 70 Universal City Plaza, 3rd floor, Universal City, CA 91605.

the hit track Mad About You, and also featured such tunes as I Need a Disguise, Shot in the Dark, and I Feel the Magic. Former Go-Gos members Caffey and Wiedlin helped with the LP, which many critics found reminiscent of the bands early work. If you liked the Go-Gos, youll get a kick out of Belinda, Jon Young noted in Creem. Carlisle remains an optimistic bundle of energy, never less than charming.

Comparing Carlisles solo efforts to her work with the Go-Gos, a People reviewer found that the songstress sounds as peppy and wholesomely sexy on her own as she did with the band.... Producer Mike Lloyd helped Carlisle maintain another of the Go-Gos qualities, the ability to evoke the sound of early rock without seeming to parody it. Belinda was well received by audiences as well as critics.

Carlisles career gained momentum in 1988, when the hit single Heaven Is a Place on Earth from her second solo effort, Heaven on Earth, was nominated for a Grammy Award. Another album firmly rooted in the pop tradition, it features, according to a People reviewer, a sleeker and tougher sounding Carlisle. The critic found that the songs on Heaven on Earth are lacking such qualities as wit... and aural appeal, but praised Carlisle for providing a more aggressive, focused delivery than in her days with the Go-Gos.

Noting that Carlisles passion for fluffy dance music has clearly hamstrung her, Rolling Stone critic Deborah Kirk summed up the lukewarm reception to the singers 1991 LP, Live Your Life Be Free. The album reaffirmed Carlisles reputation as the high priestess of sugar pop, in Kirks words, and had critics decrying her failure to offer meaningful lyrics and an innovative sound. Entertainment Weeklys Stephanie Zacharek found that the LP ultimately chokes on its aggressively friendly sound and its dribbling sentiment. Though Carlislehaving made no plans for a tour to promote Live Your Life Be Freehad her own fears about becoming passe, her work with the Go-Gos and during her early solo career secured her a spot in the annals of the ever-changing pop music genre. As long as pop music has a sweet tooth, surmised James Wolcott in Vanity Fair, therell be a place for her on the car stereo.

Selected discography

With the Go-Gos

Beauty and the Beat (includes We Got the Beat), I.R.S., 1981.

Vacation, I.R.S., 1982.

Talk Show, I.R.S., 1984.

Solo albums

Belinda (includes Mad About You), I.R.S., 1986.

Heaven On Earth (includes Heaven Is a Place on Earth), MCA, 1988.

(With George Harrison and others) Runaway Horses, MCA, 1989.

Live Your Life Be Free, MCA, 1991.

Greatest Hits, MCA, 1992.

Also released video Belinda Live!, 1989.

Sources

Creem, October 1986.

Entertainment Weekly, October 25, 1991.

Interview, July 1985.

Los Angeles Times, May 13, 1985.

New York, February 5, 1990.

People, October 26, 1981; June 16, 1986; June 23, 1986; November 23, 1987; February 13, 1989; January 13, 1992; May 18, 1992.

Rolling Stone, July 5, 1984; July 3, 1986; August 28, 1986; November 6, 1986; July 14, 1988; January 23, 1992.

Vanity Fair, February 1992.

Variety, May 18, 1988.

Denise Wiloch

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Carlisle, Belinda." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. 23 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Carlisle, Belinda." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 23, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/carlisle-belinda

"Carlisle, Belinda." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved August 23, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/carlisle-belinda