In the sleeper movie smash You Light Up My Life, an obscure young singer of commercial jingles is led astray by a smoothie producer but rebounds toward stardom. Kacey Cisyk, 24, may feel some empathy with the scenario. A jingle virtuoso herself, Cisyk is the “mystery vocalist” of the movie’s sound track (actress Didi Conn was just lip-synching). Meanwhile, a 45 version of the title tune bulleted to No. 1 on the charts, and a sound track LP is not far behind. Of course, the hit single was a “cover” version by Pat Boone’s daughter Debby. Cisyk’s reward was a few thousand “scale,” a credit on the LP jacket misspelled and, she says, “a hassling” over possible further compensation.
“The whole thing is a case of a girl who didn’t want to get involved until the film became a hit,” counters Joe Brooks, its producer-director-writer-composer. He adds that he brought in Boone only because Kacey turned down the single. Cisyk’s retort: “Why wouldn’t I want a credit? Why wouldn’t I want a hit single?”
Raised in Queens, Cisyk began studying with her Ukrainian-born violinist father at 5 and eventually majored in voice at Mannes College of Music, with an already big coloratura voice. When her dad died, she turned pro—chaperoned by her mother for auditions in the jingles jungle. Her credits now include solos (Me and My RC); backups for Eastern Airlines, Burger King and Chevy; plus a second sound track just cut for Henry Winkler’s upcoming The One and Only. She’s thus a successful “session singer” but not yet a so-called “queen” (earning above $250,000) or breakout, like Melissa Manchester or Barry Manilow.
In the meantime Cisyk has married Jack Cortner, himself a producer-composer-arranger of soap opera themes (Edge of Night) and commercials. “Most classically trained people,” Jack now marvels, “know too much to really get down. Kacey can do it all.” Just in case, she’s belatedly retained a lawyer.