In 1980 when young Stacy Lattisaw belted out the hit song, “Let Me Be Your Angel”, she had no idea that the lyrics would be prophetic.
Fast forward to today, we have Stacy Lattisaw-Jackson, the Minister and Motivational Speaker, CEO, wife of 19 years and mother of two teenagers. Speaking to Stacy was gratifying because she knows where she’s been, what she has, and where she’s going. Her purpose and passion was clear as she told me “I’m Not the Same Girl” which is the name of her book. “The closer I get to God the more I know what his plan is for me”. Stacy is the CEO of Believer’s Building Bridges; her company published her book and is also the home to her Youth Empowerment Program. Stacy is on a mission to reach children. She holds conferences and youth events, encouraging children to finish school, convincing them that they don’t have to follow the crowd. She challenges them to stand up and be leaders. She also teaches on the principle of integrity and not being afraid to support abstinence. “There are not a lot of role models for our children today, so I try my best to stand in the gap for a lot of them”. Her heart goes out to those that are being bullied “I had a hard time in school. Because I was very light, I was called white girl and yellow girl. I was quiet, shy and somewhat timid, so people took it as being stuck up.” Unfortunately, after she became a child star it got worse. “You know when you reach a certain level of success everyone is not happy for you. And a lot of time the opposition comes from our own people.” Not only did she have to worry about students, but now she had teachers joining in, “I was 15 and grown women would look me up and down and talk about what I had on to each other.
“I would turn in my test papers and they would say they couldn’t find it; anything to harass me.” Eventually Stacy’s parents had enough and decided to home school her. She went on to be a star.
After her crossover, mainstream status with “Love on a Two Way Street”, “Miracles” and “Let Me be your Angel”, Stacy was taken under Narada Michael Walden’s wings producing five hit albums that led to her signing with Motown in 1986.
It was at this time that Stacy begun to see things that disheartened her. “I realized that I was deep within an industry that had a lot of crooked people in it.” “My daughter Kayla wants to get into the industry, she sings and writes songs. But I will not push her out there; in fact, I encourage her to wait until she gets a little older. I want her to enjoy her childhood and prepare for the industry life.” Stacy said, “I had an enjoyable experience being a child star but it’s a lot if you are not prepared.”
I understand a lot of what Michael Jackson went through as a child star. “I was fortunate to open up for the Jackson Family tour which was a huge opportunity for me. I actually got a chance to talk with Michael, a time that I will cherish as long as I live.” She reflected on the childhood she never had. “I didn’t know how much I missed growing up until one day when I took my son Kevin to one of his games. I was sitting in the car just watching them have teenage fun and my mind took me back. I realized that I never went to any school dances, or proms, and never attended any school games. I was crushed and cried right there in the car.”
Traveling on the road can be a lot and when you’re 15 it can be gruesome. There were sad moments when, “I was forced to leave my family and fly 20 hours away to an event in Africa. I was tired and I didn’t want to go. I sat and cried because I was exhausted but I still had to go.” And then there were funny memories “like the time I was on stage, and I forgot the words to the second verse. I had to play it off and make up words.” “Now this was one of my hit songs so everyone in the audience was singing the right words and I was singing the wrong ones.”
“I guess everybody was saying what is that she’s singing,” as she laughed. At this point, they had Stacy on the road at least 4 nights out of a week. “We had fun but we were tired a lot.”
It wasn’t until she recorded, “Where Do We Go From Here”, with Johnny Gill that she realized she was not ready to be in the music business. Although her mother traveled with her on the road, they all had very limited knowledge of the industry. “We were being robbed. This was a hit record on billboard for several weeks at #1, and we were told that we only sold 30 or 40,000 records. We both knew that could not be true. Johnny was going to have the company audited, but I knew it was just time for me to leave the industry. I told them to go ahead and keep my part of the money.”
Stacy eventually left the industry after marrying a consistent sound engineer by the name of Kevin Jackson who was determined to be in her life forever. “My husband was my sound tech at the time, and our first date was at Pizza Hut,” she laughs, “He took off from his business and we dated for 11 days straight. Six months later we were engaged, six months after that we were married.” She talks about their relationship, “divorce with us is not an option. There is no perfect marriage, and we have had our share of arguments but we are God fearing and respectful to each other. The secret to a successful marriage is two forgiving people.” Seventeen years later they have a thriving business and he is particularly supportive of her ministry. She is currently in the studio working on her Gospel Project and will be announcing the launch of new music in the future. “This time I am prepared. ” Stacy encourages everyone to “learn the business you want to be in, tap into your gifts and talents, find out what you are good at, and don’t give up. Some people give up right before the break through comes. Get to know who God is and you will get to know your purpose.”
“Stacy, what do you want people to leave knowing about you?”
“I want them to know the real me. I didn’t get a chance to show that on some programs, like the piece on ‘Unsung Hero’. And that’s one of the reasons why I wrote my book. I want people to know that I am not the same girl, I have been renewed!”