Life on Long Island


Lisa Lisa (sans Cult Jam) to perform live

Lisa Lisa, born Lisa Velez, was the first

Lisa Lisa, born Lisa Velez, was the first Latin artist to make it nationwide in the English-language market with 10 top hits. (1988) (Credit: Getty Images)

Freestyle music and Long Island have had a connection for decades. When the genre’s big days of radio and club play were at its strongest point, LI was solidly tuned in on both fronts – and although today the emotive, simple-sample, danceable tracks and ballads that are the calling cards of the genus are now considered strictly “classic” material, venues in Nassau and Suffolk county still regularly invite some of the best-known freestyle acts to perform – such as TKA, Judy Torres, George Lamond and Lisette Melendez, among others.

But of all the singers and groups spawned by the freestyle movement, it’s a safe bet to say that the biggest act of all was Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam. Lisa (AKA Lisa Velez) and her band (and super-producer team Full Force) broke out of having just local notoriety by putting out music that hit nationally and internationally – with songs like “Can You Feel the Beat,” “All Cried Out,” “Lost In Emotion” and “I Wonder If I Take You Home” climbing the music sales charts in the United States, Canada and other nations. Lisa Lisa and her associates also had success on MTV, with their videos receiving frequent play, unlike most freestyle artists that were mostly known for only radio and nightclub hits (which were also mediums where Lisa Lisa found great success).

LI hasn’t seen much of Lisa live over the past decade, but for fans of her work, The Emporium in Patchogue will host a concert performance from Velez (minus the efforts of the Cult Jam) on Friday, March 29, with an opening show from ‘80’s cover act Dec8dia. Doors open at 5 p.m. for free from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., but the main show is $15 at 8 p.m., with tickets available in advance at Age of admission is 21; dress to impress. For more information, check out The Emporium online at or on Facebook at; for VIP bottle service call 631-275-6200.

The Emporium: 9 Railroad Ave., Patchogue, 631-627-8787

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