‘A lot of it is fate’: Belinda Carlisle on her success, Go-Go goes solo at NYCB Theatre at Westbury

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Belinda Carlisle

Kismet is defined as fate or destiny.

Was it fate or destiny that reunited singer Belinda Carlisle with songwriter Diane Warren, who wrote all five songs on Carlisle’s highly acclaimed latest extended play aptly titled Kismet?

This pair first joined forces when Warren wrote two songs for Carlisle’s second solo album, Heaven on Earth (1987) with I Get Weak soaring to number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.

Before Carlisle’s solo career, she skyrocketed to stardom as the lead singer with the Go-Go’s, considered the most successful all-female rock band of all time, who wrote their own songs and played their own instruments. Their debut album Beauty and the Beat (1981) topped at No. 1 with hits “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “We Got The Beat.” When the band broke up in 1985, Carlisle went solo with such great hits as “Mad About You,” “I Get Weak,” “Circle in the Sand,” “Leave a Light On,” and “Heaven Is a Place on Earth. Through the years she has performed with the Go-Go’s. 

Anticipating her “Decades Tour” at NYCB Theatre at Westbury on July 18, she chatted with the Press.

Was it kismet that brought you and Diane Warren together again? There’s no other word for it. My son who lives in LA walked into a coffee shop that he never normally goes to and saw Diane Warren, who never normally goes to this coffee shop at this time. He introduced himself. So, they FaceTimed me and she said she has some hits for me. She had written “Big Big Love” a few days before and she didn’t know who it would be for. And then she said, “Bingo! It’s for Belinda!” This series of coincidences ended up being the EP. It was like the universe was saying you’re not meant to stop right now. 

What was it like when you first heard yourself of the radio? I was in my boyfriend’s beat-up VW. I remember it perfectly: All of a sudden “Our Lips Are Sealed” came on the radio.

As a kid growing up in California did you ever dream of getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? I always fantasized about being a singer or an actor so the whole thing was surreal. And it’s great because the star is right in front of the building on Hollywood Boulevard where we used to rehearse in this building that was a punk club called The Masque.

While writing your New York Times best seller, Lips Unsealed, did you discover something that surprised you? The whole process was like a very in-depth therapy session. A lot of personal and profound revelations came to me. 

What was it like being directed by actress Diane Keaton in your “Heaven is a Place on Earth” video? We had a lot of mutual friends; I asked her friends if she would be interested in directing a music video and they reached out to her. She was a lot of fun, a total genius.

What stands out to you about working with George Harrison on your 1989 album Runaway Horses? He played lead guitar on “Leave a Light On” and “Deep Deep Ocean” remotely so I wasn’t in the studio with him but I had met him at a music festival. He’s only worked with a handful of other people, so it was a dream come true for me. It was an amazing experience.

What does it personally mean to you to have the Go-Go’s inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? It was something that we had all forgotten about because we had been eligible for 25 years. I think if it wasn’t for the documentary that came out the year before, we might still be waiting. It was probably one of the most amazing nights of our lives.

Do you foresee another Go-Go’s reunion tour? No, I think there’s nothing really left to do. There’s something to be said for quitting at the top.

Do you treat Westbury’s circular stage differently from any other? Playing intimate venues is a lot more challenging than bigger venues where you can kind of get lost. I love playing intimate places. Westbury is a great venue to play.

Could you give readers a preview of your playlist for Westbury? I always do material from my solo albums, a few Go-Go’s songs and two or three songs off the new EP.

What would you like to tell readers about your nonprofit, “Animal People Alliance,” that you co-founded in 2014? I love India, plus I’ve always been an animal advocate. I lived in Thailand [and] one of my friends who lives in Kolkata said there’s a lack of animal services in the city, let’s do something about it. It’s a twofold mission. It’s creating employment for individuals that might have a tough time getting work and training them to be animal handlers. We work with a sanctuary in Udaipur in Rajasthan and they treat the animals of the city. We work with the hill tribes, Thai monks and stateless people who have a hard time getting employment because they don’t have IDs. We work with the world veterinary services and we’ve now treated almost 40,000 animals. 

What do you see as the greatest reason for your longevity in the music business? I think a lot of it is fate and I have a voice that is recognizable. Not a lot of lead singers from bands who go solo have been very successful so I’ve been really lucky. I’ve worked with some of the best songwriters in the world and that’s a big factor. I think it’s my lot in life to be doing this.