March 11: singer-songwriter and actress Lisa Loeb is 43 today.

Did you know?
Lisa Loeb was the first musical artist to have a number one single while not signed to a recording contract.

Lisa Anne Loeb was born in Bethesda, Maryland, and raised in Dallas, Texas. In 1986, she went to Brown University, where she graduated in 1990 with a degree in comparative literature.

At Brown, she and Elizabeth Mitchell formed a band named Liz and Lisa, including future singer/songwriter and Brown classmate Duncan Sheik as a guitarist. The duo released two albums independently; Liz and Lisa in 1989 and Liz and Lisa: Days Were Different a year later.

After college, the jazz/rock bassist Rick Lassiter and TV and film composer/drummer Chad Fisher joined the band. After developing a following together, Loeb and Mitchell parted ways a few years after college.

Loeb began working with Juan Patiño to make the Purple Tape, the violet cassette that Loeb used as a sonic calling card and fans could buy at her gigs. Produced by Patiño and recorded at his apartment on 52nd Street in 1992, the cassette includes the earliest recordings of several Loeb favorites including “Do You Sleep,” “Snow Day,” “Train Songs,” and “It’s Over.” Loeb also took this time to record her band playing some other songs, one of which was "Stay (I Missed You)." During the same time, she was recording a band demo with Kevin Salem for a record company demo deal.

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Catch the Moon
Loeb had also developed a following from her solo acoustic performances on the New York City coffeehouse circuit and the rock club circuit. She travelled to cities such as Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Dallas, but focused mainly on New York City. She played acoustically and with her band in folk and rock clubs, including The Bitter End, CBGB’s, CB's Gallery, The Wetlands, Lonestar Roadhouse and more. Loeb also performed at several music festivals, such as the New Music Seminar and South by Southwest.

Loeb's big break came when she was discovered by actor Ethan Hawke, who lived in an apartment across the street from her in New York City. They met through mutual friends in the NYC theater community. Loeb gave Hawke the Juan Patiño-produced version of "Stay (I Missed You)," who in turn gave it to director Ben Stiller during the making of the 1994 film Reality Bites. Stiller subsequently decided to use the song in the film’s ending credits, and Ron Fair decided to put it on the soundtrack on RCA records. "Stay" ultimately went on to become a number one hit on the American charts.

When her song hit number one, Loeb earned the distinction of being the only artist to top the Hot 100 before being signed to any record label. Hawke also directed a rare one-take video of “Stay” with no edits.

In September 1995, Loeb's debut album, Tails, was released. The album was co-produced by Juan Patiño, her then longtime boyfriend. Although none of the singles from Tails matched the breakthrough appeal of "Stay," Loeb still managed a top 20 hit with "Do You Sleep?" and two moderately successful radio hits with "Taffy" and "Waiting for Wednesday." Tails went on to achieve Gold status.

In 1997, Loeb released a second major-label album, Firecracker, and began experimenting even more with orchestrations. Loeb also started going under her own name for the albums instead of using the band name, Nine Stories (named after the J. D. Salinger collection), although she still continued to tour worldwide with the band and acoustically as she had done from the start.

Critically praised, Firecracker included hit singles such as "I Do," which received radio success, peaking at #17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and music television.

Loeb’s music has been featured in additional soundtracks. The popular single "How" was included on the soundtracks for films Twister. “We Could Still Belong Together” earned a spot on the Legally Blonde soundtrack, while “I Wish” appears on the soundtrack for Anywhere But Here.

Cake and Pie, Loeb’s third album was released in 2002. In 2003, Loeb reunited with her college music partner, Elizabeth Mitchell on children’s CD and companion book Catch the Moon. Loeb's fifth studio-recorded album, The Way It Really Is was released in August 2004.

In 2008 Loeb released the Purple Tape album remixed and remastered on a double CD, with an in-depth interview by Andy Denemark, highlighting the creative process for each song to accompany extensive liner notes and photos documenting Lisa’s early history in NYC.

Her most recent release was Camp Lisa. The disc includes a mix of 21 original and classic camp songs. Camp Lisa is largely inspired by her own cherished camp memories as well as '70s-style rock and pop. Camp Lisa has garnered a great deal of award recognition including NAPPA Honors, 2008 Parents' Choice and NPR's year-end Top 10 list of the best kids music for 2008.

In conjunction with the release of Camp Lisa, Loeb launched her own non-profit organization, The Camp Lisa Foundation, which helps raise funds to send underprivileged kids to camp.