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For Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, aka Wendy & Lisa, working with Prince in the 1980s as members of his band the Revolution was the perfect preparation for a career in composing for film and television.
The duo, who work together scoring NBC’s “Heroes” and “Bionic Woman” and worked on “Crossing Jordan,” spoke about their experiences during the Billboard/Hollywood Reporter Film & TV Music Conference on Thursday at the Beverly Hilton.
“Our experience as touring musicians helped us score live to picture,” Coleman said. Prince would “give us little hand gestures and signals and dance moves, and we would know what each little thing meant. It became a game sometimes. If you missed it, believe me, you heard about it later.
“It was great training for me in scoring because I can watch the screen go by and … hit (scenes) with musical punctuation and accents,” she added.
Melvoin and Coleman’s big break in the film world was 1995’s “Dangerous Minds.” Composer Mark Isham asked for their help in revising his score, which producers Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer had deemed too “jazzy.” The two women eventually were turned over the project.
Having worked with the Purple One brought opportunities but also baggage when it came to getting work and “whether we really had the goods or whether we were just performers with Prince,” Coleman said.
Trying to start a film and television scoring career 20 years ago in a male-dominated field — and as women who were associated with fishnets and heavy breathing onstage — also “gave us a certain amount of notoriety that wasn’t necessarily good,” she said.
But the two now have as much work as they can possibly handle — and unlike many Hollywood composers, they don’t use ghostwriters to do work for them.
“Scoring is the gossamer art,” Coleman said. “You really have to not be there, but if you weren’t there, the scene would suddenly be just a play.”
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