Please excuse Lisa Lavie if she’s not used to being the center of attention. In 2002 she was running Harmony Karaoke in her native Montreal, enjoying singing and giving the occasional thought to what she wanted to do with her life.
Fast-forward to 2006, and she’s in the midst of putting the finishing touches on her debut album produced by Ben Margulies — the man behind the now-famous five-song demo that a fledgling artist named Mariah Carey was hawking in the 1980s.
In a neat twist of serendipity, Lavie says Carey is her all-time favorite act. “From when I was 10 to, like, 17, I refused to listen to anybody but her,” she enthuses.
The connection between Lavie and Margulies also came from a demo, which eventually made it into Margulies’s hands. As a result, “I had her sing to me on a cell phone from a mall in Canada,” he says, “and I heard something really special in her voice. I’ve worked with a lot of great singers, and Lisa’s got everything it takes to be a superstar.”
Lavie soon relocated to Margulies’s Santa Barbara studio and began working on the album, which has now been gestating for four years. “It does feel like forever,” she laughs, “but I’m really happy it didn’t come out before now. I’ve evolved so much as a songwriter, as well as a singer.”
The first completed song, “If I Only Knew,” appears on the soundtrack for the movie Stick It, and can be heard on her website, www.lisalavie.com. Lavie says they’re now down to final mixes and then deciding on whether to release it via an independent or a major label; ultimately she expects the disc to be out by spring 2007 at the latest.
“Everyone that’s heard it thinks it’s something pretty special,” she says, adding with a laugh, “I’m starting to believe it, too.”