A Storied Past – Bio

Early Life

Arthur Lisi is a first generation Italian, as both parents were from Arezzo, Italy. Born in Wisconsin, The family moved to Washington DC when Art was in second grade, as his mother obtained a job at the Pentagon. The youngest of five children, he and his brother David would listen to the Beatles and other popular music at night with their transistor radio. It was David embracing music on the violin, and later wind instruments, that first inspired young Arthur to ask his mother for piano lessons. He was a paperboy, and played piano for the chorus department as a student in Edison High School.

Post-College years

A Graduate of Catholic University with post grad studies at American University in Music Education, Arthur toured the world as Van McCoy’s (“The Hustle”) musical director at the dawn of the disco age in the early 70’s, Highlights of his time with Van McCoy was playing president Carter‘s inaugural ball, Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert, and experiencing the sights of Japan, The Italian Riviera, and Mexico.

Arthur assisted Van McCoy in the studio, working with top musicians in New York City such as Gordon Edwards and Richard Tee to record disco artists such as Peaches & Herb, David Ruffin and Natalie Cole.

Arthur plays keyboards for Van McCoy on this recording

Lean [but fascinating] years

Upon Van’s sudden and untimely death in 1979, Arthur took the band that was originally put together to tour with Van, and played local gigs around town at popular disco dance halls in the District of Columbia area, such as the now-iconic past venues, the Harambe House, and The Clubhouse.

During this time he’d arrange, copyright and record music for many colorful amateur performers, among them, a notable Alexandria local singer songwriter, dancer and beloved comedian, Sam Lipton. Arthur once arranged an entire musical religious service for a “Gypsy Blessing”, after which his horse won a race! ~ Anything he could do to pay the bills for his growing family. Cleaning stalls at the nearby racetrack wasn’t above him.


Good Fortune

After several years of this free lance work and gigging, By virtue of his Yellow Pages ad, Arthur was contacted and engaged by Stu Gardner to do some projects. They became fast friends, and subsequently we asked by Cosby to co-direct multiple BMI award winning top Television shows, including Little Bill, The Cosby Show, and A Different World. In that capacity, Arthur worked with the top studio musicians in New York once again as he had with Van… this time with such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Phoebe Snow and Bobby McFerrin, as well as of course, Cosby himself.

Arthur and Stu Gardner in the studio for
the Cosby Show

In 2013, Stu and Art worked on the music for a production starring Melba Moore, “Four Little Golden Girls”, that looked back at the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham Alabama. Article “Melba Moore adds her Tony-winning talent to Miles College’s ‘Four Little Golden Girls

Four Little Golden Girls musical

Arthur Lisi 2021 radio interview:

Arthur “tells all” about how he got involved in music in this recent interview with DJ Wayne Kahn of WOWD Takoma Park Radio. Aired live on his DC Roots Of Music show on May 26th, 4-6pm. Now up on Mixcloud. Listen to it here on the web, or in the app!

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