Back Story: Oak Cliff’s Lisa Layne

In a strong, clear voice, the songstress cries out that no presents are necessary this year. All she really wants for Christmas is her guy.

Original voice of a classic holiday song hails from the Cliff

In a strong, clear voice, the songstress cries out that no presents are necessary this year. All she really wants for Christmas is her guy.

It’s a simple wish, recognized by most of us as the theme of one of the all-time most popular Christmas songs: “All I Want for Christmas Is You”.

Americans have been listening to this tune each holiday season for more than two decades and enjoying the easily followed melody line. Heck, most of us probably know the chorus and can sing along. But one thing Cliffites may not know is that the original vocalist, Lisa Layne, grew up in Oak Cliff, graduated from Kimball High School, and began her career here.

Just one more Oak Cliff success story to add to the list.

Layne’s love of music seems to run in the family, as she began singing at the age of 4 — with her father, who is still a professional musician.

“We were all musically inclined,” she says. “Not all of us performed professionally, however. That’s just what we all do for the most part.”

“No teacher really influenced my music,” Layne says. “I did have a junior high choir teacher who told me I couldn’t really sing. But I decided not to listen to him.”

She lived in the Lenora Kirk Hall district, but because she was a diabetic, Layne attended Martin Weiss Elementary School, where her mother worked.

“Mom wanted to keep a closer eye on me,” Layne says.

Then it was on to L.V. Stockard for junior high. For 26 years, Layne and her family lived close to Westmoreland and Kiest boulevards.

“Living where we did in Oak Cliff was very nice,” she reminisces. “We had a creek and park running alongside the whole neighborhood. Lots of friends there, too.
“Oak Cliff is a lot prettier than North Dallas,” she says.

“We ate at Tippy’s Taco House a lot,” Layne says. “My brother, Brett, and I worked there, too, during high school.”

It’s now Herrera’s, and Layne says that when she’s home, she still likes to eat there.

In high school, she sang as a member of the New Tyme Singers and participated in the 1979 school musical, “Bye, Bye, Birdie”. After her 1980 graduation, she joined a guitar-stroking vocal trio named Beaver Creek. Along with Marsha Britton — a friend from Oak Cliff — and a male vocalist/musician from California, “Beaver Creek performed all over [the] North Texas area,” Layne says.

“Most of the clubs and things, well, I can’t recall a name. We did do Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue a lot during the early ’80s,” she says. Layne played bass.

In 1986, she answered a newspaper ad from Vince Vance and the Valiants, “who were looking for three female singers to sing the three-girl group songs,” she says. It turned out to be an event that changed her life.

During her five-year tenure with the band, Layne attracted quite a bit of attention for her mature voice with its heat-filled sound, a perfect fit for Vance’s vision of recording the now-Christmas-classic. And as the saying goes: The rest is history.

Layne then relocated to Nashville, where she joined a successful beach music band, while also doing quite a bit of demo work. In early 1993, she won the role of Patsy Cline in the first national tour of “A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline.” After touring with that troupe for the better part of two years, she joined the Nashville troupe as the lead in the same show. Her next move was performing at Nashville’s Texas Troubadour Theater, doing the Patsy show from 1998 until 2000.

Layne is one of only three women certified by the Patsy Cline Association to do official tribute performances to the late singer. Wearing her “Patsy costume” — including the trademark white leather boots — she belts out the familiar Cline tunes to appreciative audiences full of fans both old and young. Layne has appeared with Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Hall and Oates, Julio Iglesias, Little Eva, Larry Gatlin, Fats Domino, and Chicago.

Layne has now re-recorded her signature holiday song and added 12 other Christmas classics to the playlist, titling the album “All I Want for Christmas Is You”. She is accompanied on all selections by the world-famous Jordanaires.

Her latest project? The new CD, “A Tribute to Patsy Cline”.

“These are some of my favorite Patsy songs,” Layne says, “[the ones] I wanted to record.”

She’s also singing as Patsy in the show “Always, Patsy Cline” at Branson’s God and Country Theatre, where she has been performing for the past seven years.

So this holiday season, when her song blasts over the airways, remember that Lisa Layne is one of us — she hails from the Cliff.

And Lisa, from all of us back here in Texas who love and appreciate you, know that all we Cliffites need for Christmas … is you!


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  • Hpporter

    I wondered who sang that song{“All I Want for Christmas”} every time I heard it on the radio. Now thanks to this site I have the rest of the story.

  • Bizzwizz7

    Great voice, needs to get away from the “Patsy Cline” sound., needs to find her own SOUND !!!!
    One good song writter & national exposure would make LISA Layne a HOUSE HOLD NAME.

  • Ben

    I never get tired of hearing Lisa sing. I didn’t even like the song Respect (I thought)until I heard Lisa sing it. I did like I Only Want to Be With You by Dusty Springfield, but not as much as I do now. I just can’t get enough of that song now from Lisa. And of course who could get enough of All I Want for Christmas Is You, especially during the holidays. Lisa, you are a great talent. You sing songs better than the persons that made them famous. You should get same recognition.

    Ben

  • Linda Parsons

    Thank you Gayla for keeping us updated with the great memories of Oak Cliff and the Cliffites that really stand out and do something wonderful I have never heard of Lisa, but you can bet, I will find her music and listen to her. AND….she really resembles the legendary “Patsy Cline…..Once again..thanks so much and have a wonderful Holiday Season.
    Linda Parsons
    Class of ’66

  • Robert Nelson

    As usual, great article. I remember her as Lisa Burgess watching her grow up in our Oak Cliff neighborhood. It wasn’t long after high school that we all knew she had a great talent.
    Thanks again for all you do Gayla,
    Robert

  • Marilyn Carter

    Thank you Kayla for the plug of our show at The Texas Opry Theater next Saturday, Dec. 11th in Weatherford. Fill the hall, ya’ll and show Lisa your support! I would like for Dallas and Ft. Worth people to come show Weatherford what it is all about.

  • Gayla Brooks Kokel

    Just found out that Lisa will be performing at the Texas Opry Theater on Dec. 11–Weatherford, TX. She’ll be doing some “Patsy” and her “All I Want for Christmas” shows. Tickets are (or will be)available online.

  • Charles “Benny” Kirtley

    Great memories Gayla. Sounds like Lisa was all over “our” stompin’ grounds. Love to hear about Oak Cliffites and their travels. Thanks.

  • Jimmy K. Walker

    Enjoyed reading this article and learning more about Lisa. I first meet Lisa when she toured with the Patsy show and she came to my hometown of Lex Ky. We would remeet a few years later in Nashville when she did the show in Nashville. I have hung out backstage with her many times. Super nice gal and pleasure to know. She does a great job in her Patsy tribute and as herself!

    Jimmy
    charter member of Patsy Cline Fan club.

  • denise landell klos

    You always come up with an interesting story about the Cliff…didn’t know about this artist from our alma mater. Thanks for your articles and for sending the links.
    Happy Christmas,
    Denise

  • LON OAKLEY Jr.

    As always Gayla seeks out and finds the best “down to earth” stories from the Cliff! Fantastic column. MERRY CHRISTMAS to all..