Music

Lisa Hartman Black's Recording Career Predates Her TV and Country Music Fame

attends the 40th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame ceremony in New York, on Thursday, June 18, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

Most country music fans revere Lisa Hartman Black as Clint Black's partner in matrimony and harmony. The couple's duets have brought us everything from "When I Said I Do," an ACM award-winner from 1999, to a surprise 2020 appearance on The Masked Singer as the snow owls.

But did you know that the former Lisa Hartman's recording career predates not just her marriage to Clint but also her defining television roles as two characters on Knots Landing? Hartman teased her potential as a soft rock and country singer as far back as 1976 with the first of four mainstream solo albums.

Hartman's self-titled debut album featured multiple songs co-written by Jeff Barry, the pop songwriter genius whose credits include The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron," The Shangri-La's "Leader of the Pack" and The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar." Despite the AM Gold meets country storytelling quality of lead single "Kentucky Rainbows," the album was not commercially successful.

The following year, Hartman's first break as an actor came in a starring role in short-lived Bewitched spinoff Tabitha. Though Tabitha Stephens' own show lasted only 11 episodes, it opened doors for Hartman to make multiple appearances on Fantasy Island and The Love Boat.

A second album, 1979's Hold On, dabbled in Southern rock (the Barry and Hartman co-write "If You Want to Come Home" could pass as a Rossington-Collins Band deep cut) and symphonic covers of old favorites ("Hold On I'm Comin'"). As of January 2021, it's the only Hartman solo album streaming on Spotify.

The years between albums two and three brought even more small-screen success for Hartman, namely her role as Neely O'Hara in CBS' 1981 miniseries Jacqueline Susann's Valley of the Dolls .

A third album, released by RCA in 1982 as Letterock and reissued a year later as a second self-titled LP, pushed more of a rock image with songs written by Bryan Adams and Rick Springfield. Standout tracks include a cover of Dobie Gray's "If Love Must Go."

Hartman's Knots Landing debut came during the show's fourth season (1982-'83). Her first character, rock 'n' roller Ciji Dunne, suited (and sang) many of the songs off Letterock. Fan outrage after the Dunne character got murdered offscreen in 1983 led the show to bring Hartman back as Cathy Geary Rush, another singer who's acknowledged as a Ciji look-alike. She was the on-screen wife of a character played by young Alec Baldwin.

Other roles of note during Hartman's Knots Landing years include the Hollywood film Where the Boys Are '84 and such TV movies as 1985's Beverly Hills Cowgirl Blues.

Read More: Ron Howard + Cheryl Howard: From High School Sweethearts to a 45-Year Love Story

Hartman's final solo album to date, 1987's Til My Heart Stops, brought us three very '80s singles: the title track, "The Dress" and "I Don't Need Love."

Hartman first met future husband Clint Black at a New Year's Eve 1990 concert in her hometown of Houston, Texas. From there, she's juggled riding with the New York and Los Angeles jet sets and Nashville stardom. That's to say the country-adjacent celebrity's appeared in another primetime soap opera (the short lived 1992 series 2000 Malibu Road alongside Drew Barrymore) and additional TV movies (1991's Fire: Trapped on the 37th Floor, 1996's Have You Seen My Son, 1997's Out of Nowhere and 1998's Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack are among her many IMDB credits). She's also collaborated with her husband on screen (2012's Flicka: Country Pride) and in the studio (the beloved duets "Easy For Me to Say" and "You Still Get to Me").

Both Hartman and Black passed down their musical talents to their daughter Lily Pearl Black, as we learned from the special father-daughter moment that doubled as Lily's Opry debut.

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Lisa Hartman Black's Recording Career Predates Her TV and Country Music Fame