Lisa Panagos

 

'Mind's Eye' is a bouncy, tropical-flavored jam by Lisa Panagos that will lift fans around the globe with its passionate messages of love and acceptance.
 

A Greek beauty with a long list of music and acting credits to her name, Lisa Panagos has been a steadily more prominent force in diva-branded dance music of late. Her most recent cut, 'Mind's Eye', brings together everything the multi-talented performer has learned over many years of work on stages of every description. Panagos has the pipes to rival anyone in the business - past or present - but her style is more personal than the women (like Sade and Mariah Carey) who developed the now distinct flavor of dance music they mutually sustain. Relentlessly upbeat and breathlessly romantic, the lush Greek artist frequently sings about moods and relationships, occasionally accessing trenchant personal experiences like her interval as a struggling artiste in a downtrodden NYC project. Independent reporter Brandon Scott recently caught up with the supremely-gifted songbird to talk about her history, recent success in the industry, and plans for the future.

BRANDON: When did you first discover your love of music?
LISA PANAGOS: I first discovered my love of music as a child. I was born loving it! There was always music playing in my house. My parents loved the classics so I heard a lot of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, Natalie Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, and Barbara Streisand to name a few. My mother had a beautiful voice. She used to sing standards as she worked around the house. I used to love to hear her sing. We also had a housekeeper who would sing Gospel songs as she worked. Being of Greek and French descent, I was exposed to a lot of Greek and international music also. My Ya Ya(grandmother from Greece) loved dancing and would encourage me to dance at the Greek festivals and family gatherings. I could never sit still when I heard music and I was always dancing and singing. I guess my parents noticed that I had natural rhythm and a good voice and they wanted to keep me busy. Plus, I would beg them to put me in dance classes and music lessons. They finally agreed and I started taking dance lessons, mainly classical ballet to start. Then jazz and tap dancing. Voice and piano lessons also. I was having so much fun! Things began to snowball and I was performing as a singer, actress and dancer in my hometown of Potomac, Maryland then Virginia and Washington DC and Baltimore. Two performances stood out that really solidified my love for music and performing. Seeing Ann-Margaret live in Las Vegas in her own show and seeing a production of Bob Fosse’s Dancin’ at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC. After that, my sights were set for NYC to land a show on Broadway, act in tv/film and record.

BRANDON: Your Song 'Mind’s Eye' is receiving positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
LISA PANAGOS: I couldn’t believe it! I enjoyed the vibe created for the song but I didn’t realize that it would affect the listeners the way that it did. I was so excited!

BRANDON: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
LISA PANAGOS: I’m a huge fan of Sade and when I heard the song I got really excited. I wanted to pay homage to one of my favorite artists and capture a similar vibe but with my own unique stamp. The song is spiritual and sexy like many Sade tunes and that inspired me. I was also inspired by writers Mac Quayle and Alex Forbes, and producer Mac Quayle’s vision for the song.

BRANDON: Would you say that the mood of your other songs is in the same vein as ‘Mind’s Eye’?
LISA PANAGOS: I think there is a thread that is similar, yes. When it comes to production and songwriting I love sultry grooves and addictive hooks. It all starts with the groove for me and the rest usually falls into place. I’m inspired by jazz so I like to incorporate jazz elements in some tunes and when I write lyrics and melodies I like to create a commercial sound and feel that has the ability to cross genres. The songs usually speak to me, directing how the production should sound.

BRANDON: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician?
LISA PANAGOS: Hmmmm. That’s a tough one because I’m a bit of a chameleon. I would say sultry, fun, flirtatious, sophisticated but also down to earth at the same time, and spiritual. I’m an actress as well so if I don't write a tune and elect to sing it, I strive to create what is necessary as an actress to serve the song and production. Other than that, for my own works I definitely have a serious side. I like to dig deep and go there (deep emotions, serious tones) for a few tunes but then bring it all back to something positive and uplifting.

 

BRANDON: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
LISA PANAGOS My brother had a band and dabbled in music for a while. A cousin on my mothers’ side played for the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. No one really performed in my immediate family but everyone loved to listen to music. I got a lot of rock and R&B influences from my brother, like the Rolling Stones and Aretha Franklin. Although my father John Panagos was not a musician, he was a pioneer in his field and started one of the first African-American radio stations in the Washington DC area - WOOK radio - where he hired Lionel Hampton as his musical director. He loved music and the arts. He had so much respect for musicians. With this station he helped re-launch the careers of some of the greatest jazz legends of his time, including Lionel Hampton, Leslie Uggams, Lena Horn and Nat King Cole to name a few. He also started one of the first Hispanic radio stations in the area (WFAN), popular for its dance music. He then branched off and began the first UHF station in the Washington DC/Maryland area and was the owner and founder of the Gaithersburg Gazette. I hadn’t made it to earth yet when he was busy doing most of this but I was so proud of him and all of his accomplishments once I was old enough to understand it all. I finally got a chance to meet Lionel and sit in with his orchestra in NYC. That was an amazing experience. He was an incredibly gifted man.

BRANDON: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
LISA PANAGOS: The most rewarding thing about being an artist is expression. Just letting it all out, however you feel it at the moment. Telling your unique story and being authentic in your artistry. The artist, the truth, the vibe, the creation. It can be amazing. The most challenging things would be producers and/or managers that may get in the way of your vision. Those that want to change who you are for the sake of feeling more comfortable themselves. I’m not here as an artist to make you feel comfortable all of the time! Take my journey, my ride, my story, my truth. If someone wants to re-package it to something false, or not what was intended, it is a challenge sometimes to fight for yourself, your vision as an artist, and the work you want to create. That is why I have often taken on the role of not only artist and writer but producer and CEO/ President of Panagos Global Entertainment, LLC. I love to collaborate with writers and producers though and when it works out and everyone’s on the same page it can be magical, like what happened with ‘Mind’s Eye’.

BRANDON: Who are your role models in music?
LISA PANAGOS: I have many role models. One of my biggest role models growing up was Ann-Margaret. She was such a vibrant, charismatic performer. I learned a lot from watching her. Also artists such as Prince, Sade, Madonna, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder, Beyonce and Mariah Carey. There are so many incredible musicians and vocalists to learn from in this business. I also have many musical influences and role models that cross genres.

BRANDON: Describe your best or most memorable musical performance.
LISA PANAGOS: I was playing the Soubrette in the show ‘Sophisticated Ladies’ and was given Leslie Uggam's dress to perform the song ‘Mood Indigo’ with Mercer Ellington conducting the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The wardrobe lady in charge grabbed me a dress from one of Leslie’s recent appearances at the same venue. Be kind to the wardrobe department! They may do something special for you. It was a magical moment that I will never forget!

BRANDON: Do you have a music video for your hit single? If so what can you tell us about it?
LISA PANAGOS: Yes. I have a video for this hit single. I had a wonderful Emmy nominated choreographer A.C. Ciulla and a team of dancers working with me. Steve Barron (the director) has done a lot of Whitney Houston videos. It was a lot of fun working with Steve and A.C., my dancers and the whole production team.

BRANDON: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
LISA PANAGOS: I would say create, create, create! Don’t get stuck trying to find the right manager and agent. The right one will most likely find you when you are ready and/or the time is right. Push the envelope. I feel it’s a good idea to create great work with your unique artist stamp and go direct to your fans. They will never let you down. An agent, manager, family member etc. sometimes may have all sorts of things to say to confuse you and possibly hold you back. Stay true to yourself. Have fun! The snowball effect exists. Get momentum and work on many things and create! If you stay true to who you are and the work you want to create I believe it will resonate with your fans. I feel it’s especially important when things get crazy and you feel disconnected. It’s part of the business and people will try to tear you down. Other people’s jealousy towards you can get in the way and/or their fear of accepting new things from you as an artist. We are artists. We are not here to make people feel comfortable all of the time. Express yourself, be yourself, and through the intention of love or whatever makes you feel passionate about your work, do you!

BRANDON: What’s next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
LISA PANAGOS: Well, I have a labor of love coming soon. My new full length record. All I can say is that it has been a challenge but I think the outcome will be beautiful and heartfelt. Thank you so much for asking and I feel honored to be in your publication.

BRANDON: Lisa, it was a pleasure speaking with you. We sincerely hope that the next year brings even more momentum and professional success than ever before!

http://www.lisapanagos.com

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