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Belinda Carlisle Go-Go’s interview remembering Heaven On Earth




Photo (c) Jill Furmanovsky

From the groundbreaking Go-Go’s to a globally successful solo career, Belinda Carlisle has lived life in the fast lane and overcome substance abuse with meditation, mantras and yoga. In 2017, Classic Pop met the iconic Californian singer as she marked the 30th anniversary of her classic Heaven On Earth LP …

” I may not look like it, but I have a punk rock heart. I always give Iggy Pop total credit for who I am. When I saw the cover of Raw Power– that completely changed my life.” 

So, for Belinda Carlisle it all starts with the eyelinered visage of James Newell Osterberg Jnr glaring menacingly out from The Stooges 1973 landmark album. Perhaps we can see more synchronicity, too.

Like the iconic frontman, Carlisle has struggled to conform to music biz stereotypes, battled various addictions and now emerged in later years as someone far more at peace with themselves. 

When I meet the star in a swanky London hotel, she’s simultaneously looking back at her storied career and to the future.


A 30th anniversary reissue of Belinda’s much-loved LP Heaven on Earth is being released the same day as her first new solo record in a decade, Wilder Shores, a chant album linked to her 20-year practice of Kundalini yoga.

But first, let’s hit the rewind button. Everything for Carlisle begins with punk, and in the nascent gritty Los Angeles scene to be exact.

Belinda was a major player in the compact yet bijou LA punk landscape of the late-70s. After running away from home in her teens and dabbling in drugs, she found a focus in the burgeoning punk scene at clubs like the Whisky A Go Go and The Masque.

Casting herself as Dottie Danger, she flirted with playing drums in The Germs alongside Pat Smear (ex-Nirvana and now plying his trade in the Foo Fighters) but left the band due to ill health without making a significant contribution.

Is there an alternative universe where Carlisle is still playing spit and sawdust club gigs in a punk outfit?

” Oh my God, that’s my core. I’m contrary by nature,” she explains. “That’s just who I am. It’s funny that when I was in the LA punk scene we used to see the white Sikhs with their turbans and think that was totally punk rock– and that’s kinda where I’ve now ended up.” 


Despite seeming like a typical teenage act of rebellion, Belinda was actually drawn into the scene by the music rather than the parent-baiting lifestyle.

” When I was in high school we ‘d go to the record store on the Boulevard and wait for the twice-monthly NME and Melody Maker to see pictures of the Sex Pistols and the whole scene in London. That record store changed my life.

Photo (C) Lisa Borgnes Giramonti

” I grew up with Californian radio and then it really changed– it started playing The Doobie Brothers, Seals and Crofts and the Eagles– I love them now but didn’t have an appreciation for them then– it was a drag.

” Then Roxy Music arrived– I saw pretty much everyone who came through LA in those days when I was in my late teens. 

” The LA punk scene was just 50 kids or so. When The Police— who were punk back then– came to town there was hardly anybody there. Nobody knew about that kind of music at all. It grew really quickly with places like The Masque and other little clubs. Then the Whisky started booking punk bands. 

” That was at the time when Van Halen was playing the Whisky. I remember Eddie Van Halen and his brother Alex crashing punk shows and jumping on stage yelling: ‘Fuck you! You’re all a bunch of losers!’ and we were shouting ‘Fuck you!’ back at them. They were saying our music was shit etc. 

” The LA punk scene was more about art– it was a bit lighter than in New York. New York is a tough place, it certainly was in the late-70s.

There was a certain degree of anger there but it wasn’t of a political kind. We were trying to be English with this faux anger. 


” There was nothing to be angry about in California in the late-70s except if you came from a dysfunctional family.”

Ahh, that word ‘dysfunctional’. Carlisle’s family life was indeed far from idyllic and her teenage decision to leave home left her searching for a new direction.

After that brief dalliance with The Germs, she was to find her calling by forming a band with Jane Wiedlin on guitar, bassist Margot Olavarria and Elissa Bello behind the drum kit.

The Misfits, soon became The Go-Go’s and the story of the most influential girl band of all time was off and running.


Support for the band as a live act was instantaneous but securing a record deal was far trickier; Belinda experiencing for the first time an ingrained sexism and conservatism in the US record industry that was hard to shake off.

” We had no idea what to do, how to even plug our guitars into amps. We started from nothing,” Carlisle adds with a shrug. “We rehearsed at The Masque and shared a rehearsal room with The Motels. All the bands would give us lessons: ‘Oh those poor pathetic little Go-Go’s’. We rehearsed every evening after work.

” The first show we did, we played three songs– the first song twice. We never had any problem right from the beginning. There was always an audience, I guess because we were a curiosity, we had a big following. Nobody would sign us although you couldn’t get a ticket to a Go-Go’s show.

” Early on, we toured in the UK with Madness and The Specials Then we went back to the States all of a sudden because Madness insisted on Stiff Records releasing We Got The Beat. The label didn’t want to– they hated The Go-Go’s. They only did it because Madness kinda forced them to.


” Then it became an import dance hit and that changed everything. And still nobody would sign us– they ‘d say there’s been no track record of an all-female band that has been successful. We love you, but sorry …

” Those first UK shows were scary. It was really violent at times. We had no money and were eating leftovers from other bands and lived on ₤ 3 a day. If we wanted to get high we ‘d drink cough syrup as we couldn’t afford beer.

” Then we ‘d go on stage and open for these bands in front of a bunch of scary skinheads gobbing on us. Of course, being the frontperson I was covered in all this gob. We paid our dues! We worked really hard. 

” There was lots of racial tension, lots of fight, lots of blood. I remember this really violent gig in Coventry. Really bad. The racial thing over here [in the UK] was scary. Back home, the tension came from the establishment not understanding what the kids were doing.” 


Enter Miles Copeland (father to tubthumping Police member Stewart). Copeland’s IRS Records brought to the world the likes of R.E.M, The Bangles, Berlin, The Cramps, The Dead Kennedys, his son’s band (naturally) and The Go-Go’s.

” Miles saw the potential. We had all these dreams of being on CBS or EMI but no, it was on IRS. It actually turned out to be a great thing. They weren’t expecting us to sell so many records. 

” We had to settle an agreement for our royalties as they couldn’t handle it, it was such an explosion. It was all good in the end but there was a lawsuit. 

” It was kind of a blur. We didn’t have any time off. We didn’t know we could say no to things and were on the road for two-and-a-half years straight. We were here for like three months in the UK on that original tour. Then we went back to New York to record Beauty and the Beat.”

Belinda Carlisle– Heaven On Earth cover

One of the most successful debut albums of all time, Beauty and the Beat topped the US charts for six weeks in 1981, shifting an impressive two million copies in the process.

Classic hits came thick and fast including We Got The Beat and a co-write with Terry Hall on Our Lips Are Sealed. The darkness begins to descend as chaos ensues.

The Go-Go’s soon racked up a dubious reputation as out-of-control party animals, more than holding their own against male contemporaries on the drink and drugs front. Carlisle was an unapologetic ringleader.

Read more: Jane Wiedlin interview

Despite inter-band squabbling and substance abuse taking its toll, a fractious follow-up Vacation arrived a year later but by 1984’s Talk Show album, the wheels had well and truly come off.

” The band started falling apart after Jane decided to leave. She was one of the founding members and main songwriters. There was no Go-Go’s without Jane,” adds Carlisle.

” There were lots of drugs around which is well documented. Lots of publishing issues and splits within the band, too. We tried to replace Jane but it didn’t work so we split up.”


Part of the original acrimony in the band was the amount of attention Carlisle received as frontperson. After a show at the Rock in Rio festival in 1985, Carlisle and guitarist Charlotte Caffey decided to call time on the band.

Naturally, the world was waiting for Belinda to go it alone. Just over a year later, the stylists were wheeled in and a freshly-minted pop-friendly solo artist was born.  

Read more: Belinda Carlisle– album by album

” It was very intimidating going solo. I had to really find my feet. It took a long time, now it’s like riding a bike, I can switch gears and just do it– it’s a blast. I was really insecure about being out there as the complete focus. I couldn’t bounce things off of other people on stage.”

Carlisle’s opening gambit as a solo artist was her 1986 debut Belinda. The record, buoyed by the Top Three success of Mad About You featured a collaboration with Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham on Since You’ve Gone and a continued relationship with Charlotte Caffey.

” She’s an amazing songwriter and was a great support to me when the band broke up. We were always close friends and also bonded in early sobriety. I was trying to get sober and so was she. 


” There were a lot of different reasons why it made sense to work together. We get each other. We were both born and raised in California so we have that same sensibility. We have the same musical tastes and our relationship is really intuitive. We’ve known each other for 40 years now.” 

If Belinda was a manageable taste of solo success then it was its follow-up, 1987’s Heaven on Earth that fired Carlisle into the pop stratosphere where she began going toe-to-toe with the likes of Madonna and Whitney Houston as one of the 80s biggest female solo stars.

The stardom was magnified, but the self-doubt remained. Belinda was still struggling with addictions and added body image issues to her other demons.

Read more: Belinda Carlisle 2021 interview

” It was really complex but I was asking ‘Am I really worthy of this?’. I felt like an imposter for years particularly on my first few solo albums,” Carlisle explains. “I remember doing a show in Manchester on the Heaven on Earth Tour and looking out the window of the arena and thinking ‘why the fuck are they here to see me?’.

” I still have the potential to do that to myself but not as much as I used to. I’ll still do a show and focus on the one person that isn’t having a good time, though. In the past 15 years I’ve finally felt, ‘yep, this is what I’m meant to be doing!'” 


Carlisle’s imperial pop phase saw continued success with 1989’s Runaway Horses and fourth solo album Live Your Life Be Free two years later.

But struggling to live up to the California beach babe stereotype imposed on her by the record industry and media, the pop game was beginning to lose its lustre for Carlisle.

” Right after A Woman and a Man (her album from 1996), I was dropped from my record company. It was on my 40th birthday! It was the best thing that could have happened to me, though. I ‘d been on that treadmill since I was 18 years old. I was in the throes of addiction, too.

” That last album is terrible– I can’t even listen to it. I think there’s a couple of decent songs but for the most part it’s not very good. I was going through a lot of personal stuff so I had to sort that out first. 

Photo (C) Sheila Rock

” My family and I moved to France in 1994. My son was born on the day of the LA Riots in 1992 and that planted a seed. My idea of having a successful life has never been driving a Mercedes or living in a big house– I have zero desire for that. I think my husband is on the same track. It’s more about freedom than anything else.

” My husband works at [Hollywood talent agency] William Morris and we went to the 40th anniversary of the top guy in the company at some country club and I thought to myself ‘Is this where it’s all going to end?’– that’s really depressing.

” We were reading a lot of Peter Mayle books [The Brit author behind A Year in Provence] and watching To Catch A Thief over and over again– so we thought South of France! We gave it six months and ended up staying for 22 years 


Belinda now calls Bangkok home. “It’s like Disneyland meets the Wild West! Really mental,” she says. “It’s a weird city because it’s a throbbing metropolis but also Buddhist and really chilled out.

” There’s none of the aggression and aggravation or that city ‘anger’ thing. We have the benefit of both worlds. I love Asia. It’s exciting and I love the energy there.”

Ditching the pop world– at least in the studio, Carlisle still plays her back catalogue of hits for fans at live shows around the world– meant a change in musical direction. After 11 years away came Voilà, a French language album which saw her reinterpret classic songs from her adopted country.


” It’s 20 years since my last traditional pop album. Voilà made sense as I was living in France at the time and I always felt there was a little bit of a chanteuse lurking within me. Lyrically, that was like a character I was playing.

” The last 20 years of my life– and especially the last 15– has seen me chanting and getting into a whole other genre of music. Devotional music is pretty much all I listen to now plus Maria Callas, Fleetwood Mac and some Depeche Mode I still love them.”


Now comes Wilder Shores. Carlisle’s most experimental work to date features seven mantras deftly moulded into traditional Western pop settings. “I tried doing this album five years ago and there was just no way it was going to work. I just wasn’t ready for it because it’s not just singing, it’s a whole other thing.

” In some ways, it was even more complicated than Voilà. I went through Kundalini teacher training twice and learned about the effects of mantra. Then I had to find the chants that were most effective for me– it’s been a three-year process. 

” The type of yoga and chanting that I do is pretty complicated because there are thousands of mantras and hand and arm positions that you use in combination with the mantras and breathing techniques. It’s a proven science. In pronouncing the words correctly you activate your glandular system by hitting the meridian points on the top of your mouth. 


” I could never be a traditional devotional music singer, I’m a pop singer, that’s all I know. The way the album was going to work for me was to take the repetitive mantras and put them into a pop song format where there’s a verse, a bridge, a chorus and sometimes a middle eight. 

” I never learned to play a musical instrument and I should have. I could have written a lot of songs. I just stopped at the F chord. That was the end of me! Over the years, my contributions have been mostly lyrics– on Wilder Shores, though, it’s all melodies. 

” The mantras have a lot of power behind them and have the ability to change the atmosphere energetically– that’s been proven. What I’m hoping– especially in this crazy world– is to bring more people to the practice.

” This is a pop album, though. I hope it tweaks peoples’ curiosity. Some fans will like it, others have already said ‘I hope this album will be in English’. This record is not for everybody and isn’t meant to be.”


Carlisle may not have lived in the States for more than two decades, but she remains a passionate and outspoken political advocate for the country.

The rise of Donald Trump has been a particular cause for concern. “Having a gay son has made me a lot more socially and politically active. I don’t like where the US is going. I do think that Wilder Shores can help, I know that sounds corny, but I really think it can. 

” When you sit back and take everything for granted, it’s only when some monster gets into office that you realise how lucky you are and how you’ve got to fight to keep it. If it’s made people more socially and politically aware then that’s a really positive thing. 

” I got back into Transcendental Meditation again after Trump won the election. I thought ‘I need all the help I can get!’ With the yoga and chanting it changes your perspective on things, it changes your state of mind, it puts you in the rhythm of everything around you.”

As well as calming political anger, Carlisle’s lifestyle changes have led her to turn her back on drink and drug addiction. The singer has been sober since the mid-00s.

” I don’t even think about it now. When I was done, I was done. I can be around people drinking or smoking pot, but I can’t be around those doing coke. That makes me really uncomfortable. I don’t miss it. It’s so far removed from me now. 

” I was heavy into the 12-Step programme, that got me sober but the yoga and chanting takes me to a whole new level. If you’re always pushing against the tide, it just keeps coming back at you.” 

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The post Interview: Belinda Carlisle remembers Heaven On Earth appeared first on Classic Pop Magazine

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2023 CMA Awards list of Artists & Presenters




2023 CMA Awards list of Artists & Presenters

The 57th annual CMA Awards will air Nov. 8, live on ABC from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

The 57th annual CMA Awards will air Wednesday, Nov. 8, live on ABC from Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, crowning this year’s slate of winners, as voted upon by the CMA’s more-than 6,000 members. But the star power extends far beyond only the winners– there are plenty of top-notch performances and presenters, as well.

The ceremony– which will again be hosted by Luke Bryan and Peyton Manning– will feature several special performance moments, including Morgan Wallen joining forces with Post Malone and HARDY to offer up several classic country songs. Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Zac Brown Band and Coral Reefer Band member Mac McAnally will honor the late singer-songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

Jelly Roll, a five-time nominee, will take the stage twice during the evening, first opening the show with a performance of his No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hit “Need a Favor,” and performing again later in the show for a collaboration with K. Michelle on The Judds’ signature song “Love Can Build a Bridge.”

Meanwhile, newly-minted Country Music Hall of Fame inductee Tanya Tucker will be joined by Little Big Town for a performance of Tucker’s 1972 debut hit “Delta Dawn.”

Lainey Wilson leads this year’s nominees with nine nods, including entertainer of the year, female vocalist of the year, single of the year and song of the year. Wilson is just the fourth artist in CMA history to land nine or more nominations in a single year. She follows Merle Haggard (nine nods in 1970), Alan Jackson (a record 10 nods in 2002) and Miranda Lambert (nine nods in both 2010 and 2014).

Jelly Roll has five nominations this year, including new artist of the year and male artist of the year. Luke Combs and HARDY have four nominations each, followed by Jordan Davis, Ashley McBryde, producer/mix engineer Joey Moi, songwriter-producer Jordan Schmidt, Chris Stapleton, Morgan Wallen, and musician/producer Derek Wells with three nominations each.

See below for a full list of performers and presenters:


Kelsea Ballerini

Luke Bryan

Kenny Chesney

Luke Combs

Dan + Shay

Jordan Davis


Alan Jackson

Jelly Roll

Cody Johnson

Little Big Town

Mac McAnally

Ashley McBryde

Megan Moroney

Old Dominion

Carly Pearce

Post Malone

K. Michelle

Chris Stapleton

Tanya Tucker

The War And Treaty

Morgan Wallen

Lainey Wilson

Zac Brown Band


Paula Abdul

Bill Anderson

Nate Bargatze

Kevin Cahoon

Jordan Davis

Cynthia Erivo

Sara Evans

Brian Kelley

Lady A

Martina McBride

Parker McCollum

Craig Morgan

Darius Rucker

Corey Seager,

Gerry Turner

Keith Urban

Hailey Whitters

Chris Young

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Inspired Show ‘NEON’ at Billboard Latin Music Week appears on Netflix Premieres Reggaeton




The new reggaeton-inspired comedy was executive produced by Daddy Yankee and features original music by Tainy & & One Six.

Over the past 12 months, Latin music’s US revenue surpassed the $1 billion dollar mark for the first time ever. Billboard Latin Music Week is an annual celebration that delves into the diversity of sounds and revenue sources fueling the genre.

Top cap off day three of Latin Music Week, Billboard and Netflix hosted an advanced screening party for the new reggaeton-inspired comedy ‘NEON.’ The show follows three friends who move from a small Florida town to Miami with the hopes of making it big in the world of reggaeton.

Ahead of the private screening, attendees lined up outside of the Faena Theater, eagerly awaiting their chance to check out this incredible show before the rest of the world.

Atmosphere at the premiere of Netflix’s ‘Neon’ held at the Faena Theater as part of Billboard Latin Music Week on October 4, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Upon entrance, attendees posed for photos in front of the Netflix step & & repeat before securing refreshments and finding seats to watch the show. The screening featured an open bar and appetizers including popcorn served in a custom NEON bag, NEON cookies, & & more.

Atmosphere at the premiere of Netflix’s ‘Neon’ held at the Faena Theater as part of Billboard Latin Music Week on October 4, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida.

<a href=”″>Billboard Latin and Billboard Español Chief Content Officer Leila Cobo addressed the crowd to kick off the screening</a>.

She told the crowd “If you are an artist or dream of working in music, you can relate to the themes of this show.”

Leila Cobo at the premiere of Netflix’s ‘Neon’ held at the Faena Theater as part of Billboard Latin Music Week on October 4, 2023 in Miami Beach, Florida.

The NEON screening was a key moment of the week for Latin Music Week attendees and it is safe to say, reggaeton fans are excited to see the full first season unfold.

The show is executive produced by the king of reggaeton, Daddy Yankee, and has original songs produced by hitmakers Tainy and One Six. The eight episode comedy captures not only the group’s larger than life dreams, but also the harsh realities of finding success in music.

Check out the trailer for NEON below and stream the first season on October 19, 2023!


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Imogen Load Photos memories of the ‘Tidy’ Recording Session to Commemorate ‘1989 (Taylor’s Variation)’ Release




” This is Taylor playing a bada– card to stay in control of her work,” she wrote about Swift.

Imogen Heap, who co-wrote and co-produced the 1989 track “Clean” with Taylor Swift, penned a note about her experience recording the 13th song on the 2014 album and re-recording it for the just-released version, 1989 (Taylor’s Version)

” Today marks the release of ‘Taylor’s version’ of 1989 … the album originally released in 2014. The latest in line towards @taylorswift’s endeavour to re-record every album she’s ever done as part of an old record deal,” Heap wrote Friday (Oct. 27) on Instagram, where she shared photos from the studio.

” This is Taylor playing a bada– card to stay in control of her work in a commercial music industry that largely works against musicians,” she said.

Heap captioned a picture in her post: “Here’s me in my studio re-recording my bits on Clean last year, almost a decade on from the day Taylor swooped in to visit me at my home the @theround. house for 10 hours between 2 sold out shows at the 02 arena!”

She also captioned a snapshot of the two when they first worked together, writing, “downstairs in the @thehideaway. studio … Two ladies, in a room. We wrote and produced 90% of the track and still managed to eat lunch and dinner!”

” Now you can have fun playing spot the difference,” joked Heap, who thanked Swift on Instagram “for inviting me into your world!”

In a 2014 interview with the writer of this article, Swift recalled that “meeting Imogen Heap was an amazing experience for me because she was all I listened to in high school. Getting to not only meet her, but work with her and watch to see what she does in the studio, was really inspiring.”




Taylor Swift’s ‘1989 (Taylor’s Version)’ Off to Big Start After First Day of Release



So what did Swift first say upon first meeting one of her musical idols? “Hi, I’m so happy to meet you?” she answered with a laugh. “I try to keep it in check. I try to act as, like, normal as humanly possible.”

” The song ‘Clean’ is one that I wrote about sort of coming out of a relationship or trying to move on from some struggle that you had in your life, and feeling kind of tarnished by it,” Swift said during our chat, which took place before the release of 2014’s 1989 “And it kind of talks about how if you really allow yourself to feel pain, I think maybe it’s easier to get past it. For most people that I’ve known who’ve fought through struggle, a lot of them who have really just faced the pain head on have come out OK a lot faster than the ones who just pretended to be in denial of it.”

” Almost every line in that song is one that I’m proud of,” she told me.

Meanwhile, when the original 1989 was released that year, Heap admitted on her blog that prior to actually working together, she ‘d wrongly assumed Swift didn’t really write her own music.

” I have to be honest here and say that I ever so slightly had not done my homework on Taylor Swift but had done what I HATE others do of me, which is to pre-judge a person based on assumptions,” Heap wrote. “I had assumed Taylor didn’t write too much of her own music (as is the case with many young, extremely successful artists these days who sell a shed load of records), and was likely puppeteered by an aging gang of music executives.”

At the time Heap wanted to make it known that she ‘d been “reading the odd report or tweet here and there that the reason the lyrics to ‘Clean’ are so good is because I wrote the song with her but FOR SURE they are all hers she deserves all the credit!”

See Imogen Heap’s full note about re-recording “Clean” for 1989 (Taylor’s Version) below and on Instagram Swift’s 1989 (Taylor’s Version) sold over 250,000 copies in the U.S. on its first day of release, according to initial reports to data tracking firm Luminate. After just one day, the album has the third-largest sales week of 2023.

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