Elisa Lovelie grew up and still lives in Ditmas Park, and at 20 years old, she’s prepared to take the world by storm. The singer/songwriter has an ambitious goal: to be as famous at 26 as Lady Gaga is now at that age. She knows it will take a lot of work, but she’s determined.
“What I’m doing right now is the hardest part,” Elisa said. “I believe in myself, I’ve invested everything I have in myself, and I think if I can push myself very hard I’ll get there–and go farther.”
And she’s already put plenty of work into it. Elisa started taking singing and piano lessons when she was 5 years old. She continued private lessons while she attended PS 99 and the Berkeley Carroll School, and she was able to dive even deeper into music when she began home-schooling in the eighth grade.
“I got to spend my days learning to play instruments and sing,” she explained. “It was wonderful.”
She explored opera for five years starting at age 12, and at 16 joined the Gowanus Music Club, where she was the lead singer of the band, and which is where she first picked up the guitar.
“My first semester I learned how to do a Queen song, a White Stripes song–and I’d never sung anything like that before,” Elisa said. “It was me and some 14-year-old boys. Our guitarist at the time, he was just starting out on guitar, and I figured I could do that.”
So she bought a guitar and learned from no less than Tracy Bonham, who was working with GMC at the time. “She’s a wonderful friend, and has been very influential to me on a personal level,” Elisa said. “From the ground up, she got me into playing.”
After just a few years, Elisa is now fronting a 7-piece band that’s getting set to release a single in June and an album this fall, with a show coming up on May 12 at the Bitter End, and a mini-tour on the East Coast this summer. But that’s all after she finishes up her sophomore year in the Honors Academy at Brooklyn College.
“This is the most hectic month of my life,” Elisa said, listing the four 10-pages papers that are due this month and the Bitter End show as just some of the more stressful parts. And she’s not taking it any easier right now, even though she just learned she’s been honored with a prestigious scholarship award for art history.
“Everyone says it’ll be excellent for my grad school applications, but I think I’m going to take 2-3 years off after college before I think about that,” she said. “Because my music is getting off the ground, and I’m really excited about that.”
As are her friends and family, who she’s gathering for the audience for the show in May. That group includes one of her biggest fans—her mom, Kathy Libraty. Elisa helps her mother with her antique doll business, and the pair hosts a belly dancing class at the Micro Museum on Smith Street on Sunday mornings.
“We do a lot together, which is nice, since most kids don’t have that kind of relationship with their parents,” Elisa said. “I feel totally independent, but having her be part of my life is so important.”
Perhaps it’s the influence of her parents that has imparted some musical responsibility in Elisa. Because even though she wants to be as famous as Lady Gaga, and though she counts Janice Joplin as one of her greatest musical influences, she wants to be a more positive role model for young girls.
“I have a rule,” Elisa explained. “Every song I write I have to be able to get up in front of a class of sixth graders and sing it and not blush. I know different people do different things with their music and I appreciate that. But for me, my goal has always been to be a respectable young woman.”
Elisa will be busy over her summer break recording tracks with her band at Rockgarden, The Cutting Room, and hopefully in the studio she’s planning to build in her family’s basement. In addition to her show in May and the mini-tour, she’s hoping to play more in the area, particularly at Sycamore. And when she does, be sure to catch her, because it might be one of the last times you have a chance to see her in such an intimate venue.
“I’m so surprised how fast this is moving,” she said. “If you’d have told me a year ago that I’d be where I am today, I wouldn’t have believed you.”
Check out more songs from Elisa: