Original voice of a classic holiday song hails from the Cliff
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.”
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!