Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman of Wendy & Lisa are an Emmy Award winning musical composing duo based in Los Angeles. They both started their careers in one of the most successful rock bands of the 1980s, Prince & the Revolution.
The childhood friends both hail from musical families which often performed together: Wendy’s father, Mike Melvoin, was an in-demand session musician and was president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) in the 1980s, while Lisa’s father, Gary L. Coleman, was also a popular session musician and played on the Beach Boys’ famous “Pet Sounds” sessions, numerous Carpenters records, as well as most of the notable Motown artists of the 1970s. Both Lisa and Wendy are talented multi-instrumentalists.
The duo, who were romantically linked for over two decades in the 1980s and 1990s until an amicable split, decided to keep their private relationship out of the press until giving an interview with Out magazine in 2009. In the interview they opened up about life with Prince and how it was for them to be a lesbian couple in a male-dominated industry where they were already alienated for being female musicians.
“With Prince and the Revolution, I think that it was just taken for granted that we were supposed to be the gay reps in the band. The blacks, the whites, the gays. And people would say, ‘Gee, do you think this lesbian thing is going to work for them?’ So, after the band kind of split up, the record labels would be like, ‘You need to be wearing fur coats and sitting on motorcycles and long fingernails…’” explained Wendy.
Lisa also explained the extent of Prince’s goal to have his band a representation of a racial and sexuality rainbow, as she remembered one particular occasion:
“We had a photo shoot for the ‘Purple Rain’ poster. We were all in our different positions and he at one point walked over to me and Wendy and lifted my arm up and put my hand around Wendy’s waist and said, ‘There.’ And that is the poster. That’s how precise he was about how he wanted the image of the band to be. He wanted it to be way more obvious. We weren’t just the two girls in the band.”
After their work with Prince, and romantic split, they continued to work as a duo. As film and TV composers, since 1995’s box office hit “Dangerous Minds,” they have set a successful track record scoring films such as “Soul Food” and television series “Crossing Jordan,” “Mercy” and the Emmy-nominated NBC series “Heroes,” “Touch,” “No Tomorrow” and “Shades of Blue.” Apart from their composing career, Wendy & Lisa have released several studio albums and are often sought out for their song writing and collaboration skills. They have collaborated on albums with the likes of Joni Mitchell, Sheryl Crow, Eric Clapton, Neil Finn, Seal and Grace Jones.