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Lisa Matassa is combining the best of both her wonderful worlds
Tuesday, May 15, 2012 - by Rich Fisher, USTA Web Newsroom Senior Correspondent

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Rich Fisher
Trenton, NJ --- Lisa Matassa sang the national anthem at the 2005 Hambletonian elimination, the 2007 Breeders Crown and the 2011 Meadowlands Pace.

Why is this significant?

Because outside of her family, Matassa was combining the greatest passions of her star spangled life in those performances.

The Plainview, Long Island mother of two and her husband Frank own 4-year-old trotter Broadway Rocks, who won for the third time in five starts last Thursday at Harrah’s Philadelphia. The couple also owns 8-year-old trotter Macho Lindy, who has $461,093 in career winnings.

Standardbred owner Lisa Matassa is also known as "America's Pioneer of Long Island Country."

But Matassa is better known for her new role as Long Island’s first country recording artist, aka America’s Pioneer of Long Island Country.

Matassa explains that Long Island Country is “The best telling story of a country song with the edginess of New York rock and roll.”

It seems to be what the people want, as she has had two No. 1 videos on the CMT (Country Music Television) network in the past year and has released a successful CD and single.

“I’m living the dream,” she said. “I’m literal, living proof dreams can come true, and the goals you had as a child, you can get them in your life.”

Born in Manhasset, N.Y., Lisa and her family moved to South Florida when she was 6 years old and she fell in love with country music. Upon returning at age 15, there was no country to be found on Long Island.

“I loved country, because that’s what we grew up with,” Matassa said from Nashville on Monday. “I always loved the telling of country songs. But in school back at Long Island, you had to learn to adapt. If you told anyone you liked country they’d look at you like you had three heads.”

So Matassa listened to artists like Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Heart and Journey, but when it came time to relax she put on her country records. She also had a pretty good voice herself. After graduation she was heard singing with the Long Island band Recovery, and was offered a record deal at age 19 doing freestyle dance music that was popular at the time. She changed her name to Lysa Lynn in honor of Loretta, and went to work.

“When you’re 19 and someone offers you a record deal, you’re not going to argue about the music,” Matassa said. “I just figured if I couldn’t sing country, I was going to sound like a country artist.”

Lisa Matassa has loved country music since she was 6 years old.

The formula worked as she had had two Top 10 hits on the Dance Music charts in 1987 and 1988. But soon the Seattle grunge sound took over the country and the songstress decided it was time for her and Frank to raise a family. But while she was raising Alexa (now 16) and Frankie (14), Matassa kept busy by doing commercials and studio work, writing songs and “performing in front of people just to stay sharp and keep my craft going.”

Two years ago, with her family’s blessing, it was time to revisit the dream. Matassa contacted an old Long Island buddy Joey Sykes, a singer-songwriter in Nashville, and told him she wanted to sing country. Sykes promptly dispatched Matassa to a computer to see the songs he was working on and they were exactly what she wanted.

“I always wondered what would have happened if I stayed with music,” Matassa said. “I was tired of saying ‘What if?’ and I wanted to see what would happen. I wasn’t a typical singer just coming into the business. I’m a veteran. I may not be your girl next door but I’m your mom next door, and that 35- to 55-year-old mom is the one that buys country music.”

One thing led to another and Matassa’s career has taken off. In June she released her first EP, “Me Time,” and the title song was released as a single and went to No. 1 on CMT. Her interpretation of “The Christmas Song” was also No. 1 on CMT last year.

She is opening for LeAnn Rimes in New York on Sunday, has a big show on June 26 in Las Vegas and will play the Long Island Freedom Fest on July 3. Matassa has worked with some of the biggest names in country and superstars like Taylor Swift are complimenting her work.

Photos courtesy of Frank Matassa
Lisa Matassa’s first CD is titled “Sunrise Highway."

As for Matassa’s recordings, after the EP came her first LP, “Sunrise Highway,” and on Monday she was in Nashville presenting another new single from the album, an energetic, bluesy song entitled “Wouldn’t You Like to Know.”

One thing Matassa would like to know is when she will have time to watch her beloved horses race again. She’s not complaining, since things are going so well in her career. But she has always loved the racing game, since going to Belmont Park and Roosevelt Raceway as a kid.

“It’s always fun watching a race, you just get that rush,” Matassa said. “Whether you own the horse or you just have two dollars down on it, you get the rush.”

When Lisa met Frank, they shared a common interest in horse racing. But Frank said he would only get in the racing game if high school chum, trainer Ron Coyne, was involved.

“In this business, you really need a lot of trust,” Matassa said. “Those guys go way back and Frank trusts Ronnie.”

Coyne and the Matassas finally took the leap together in 2001, buying their first horse -- Force The Hand -- that they raced for three years before he bowed a tendon. Then came a few other yearlings and in 2004 they purchased a pacer named Rummy, who won $73,095 in 2007.

But the best of the bunch may be competing right now, as Broadway Rocks was purchased last summer and is starting to emerge after two years in limbo.

“I don’t know why he didn’t race before,” Matassa said. “I know he had some injury problems and there was some type of ownership discrepancy involved with him. But the horse looked good, we worked something out and lo and behold we seem to have a little hidden gem in there.

“Ronnie has been training him. It’s funny; I eavesdrop on conversations with Frankie and Ronnie on the phone and I hear words like “monster” and “freak of nature.” He doesn’t like to lose, that horse loves to find his way into the winner’s circle. We didn’t know how good that horse would be, to be honest. We think he’s good but only time will tell.”

Macho Lindy is no slouch, having earned $145,430 in 2011.

“We’ll just take it one day at a time and see how it goes,” Matassa said.

And with that, she was off to promote her new single. “Wouldn’t You Like to Know” is a song about a girls’ night out. On the cover with Matassa is Coyne’s wife, Regina.

“See how it all comes full circle,” Matassa said with a laugh.

Full circle. Like a racetrack.

But that shouldn’t be surprising. As Matassa has proven, she enjoys combining the best of both her wonderful worlds.

Can a Long Island country song about a trotter be far behind?


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