Lisa López and The Westside Sound, 1979-1981

Three segments from Lisa López's 1981 interview on "The Mexican American Experience"

"The Mexican American Experience" radio interview of Lisa López

Nowadays, you may know Lisa López as a national Tejana musical sensation with her 1981 hit, "Si Quieres Verme Llorar," but when she was a teenager growing up in San Antonio, she played a fascinating role in the city's Westside Sound. First signed to Omega Records, López released her first two albums back-to-back: Sugar'N'Spice in 1978, and Love Absolute in 1979. Merely at the age of 16 in 1979, López was experimenting with her vast musical skill set, frequently bending the hard-set barriers of the Tejano genre. In an interview for the show "The Mexican American Experience" that aired on the Longhorn Radio Network in December 1981, interviewer Linda Fregoso asked López about this variety, and López cited her bilingual flexibility as being very attractive to record labels and music industry professionals. She also spoke about her humble beginnings as a young girl playing keyboard in her father's Tejano band -- a strikingly similar start as Tejana-crossover pop star, Selena Quintanilla and her father's band, Los Dinos. 

These are two songs featured on Lisa López's sophomore album, Love Absolute -- a vinyl archive found in the Rio Record Shop Collection at the Benson Latin American Center. López's command of genre crossover can be heard throughout the album, on which she jumps from disco to country, R&B to pop, and more. These two songs are also a clear display of her goal to appeal to both Latino/Spanish-speaking audiences and white audiences. In the song "En El Disco," the production uses a traditional approach to disco, integrating musical textures that are emblematic of the Tejano music genre such as a brass horn line and producer Eddie Aleman's emphasis on the "synth-bass" -- an instrument frequently used on Love Absolute that is comparable to the electric organ that is integral to the Westside Sound. On Looking Back, López focuses more on her country-tinged English vocals atop a Chicano Soul production. The musical texture of this song is similar to the style of Westside Sound powerhouse producer Manny Guerra (GCP), who developed this unique sound for many San Antonio artists such as Machismo, Latin Breed, and Selena.