Lori Sunshine Ready for Return to the Music World
The Galloway native who once had a contract with DreamWorks will hold her CD release party early next year.
Since she was four years old, Lori Lenzi has been singing. Early in her life, she attempted to make a career of it, and after a brief hiatus in which Lenzi became an Atlantic City school teacher, Lori “Sunshine” is ready to shine on the music world once more.
Lenzi, a Galloway native and resident, was set to debut her new album in Atlantic City on Nov. 3. However, due to the devastation caused last week when Tropical Storm Sandy made landfall in the city, Lenzi rescheduled her release party until early next year.
It’s a minor setback for a performer who once toured internationally and appeared on Soul Train, but fell into a depression when she had to file for bankruptcy to get out of her previous contract with DreamWorks.
“It was a humbling experience,” Lenzi said. “This industry is crazy. People are not trustworthy.”
Lenzi had been involved in the music industry since she was a small child. When she was attending a liberal arts college in New York, she went to an audition in Brooklyn.
“It was in someone’s basement and I did the Star Spangled Banner,” Lenzi said.
That’s how she hooked up with her agent, Full Force, an R&B group and producers who have worked with Britney Spears, James Brown, the Backstreet Boys, Selena and Rihanna.
When she was 19 years old, Full Force secured a deal with DreamWorks, a studio whose target audience is children. That’s where she picked up her nickname “Sunshine.”
However, her style of music didn’t fit her nickname or the image DreamWorks was trying to create for her.
“Full Force had me doing edgier lyrics,” Lenzi said.
The two sides couldn’t come to an agreement, DreamWorks attempted to buy out Lenzi’s contract, and ultimately, Lenzi filed for bankruptcy to get out of her contract.
“I went into a depression,” said Lenzi, who was in her early 20’s at the time. “I went from riding in limos and touring all over the world to being bankrupt.”
Lenzi got married, had a daughter, and is now divorced. Her daughter is now nine years old.
“I couldn’t even watch the Grammy’s,” Lenzi said. “I couldn’t even turn on the TV.”
With memories of the music industry, and performances in Russia, Rome and London, becoming a distant memory, Lenzi went back to school and earned a dual bachelor’s degree. She now teaches first grade in Atlantic City.
“My kids want to be singers, models, (athletes). The kids aspire to do the same things I did,” Lenzi said. “I stress to them that education is so important. I had an over half a million dollar record deal, and I fell flat on my face.”
However, while working as a teacher, Lenzi began to write music again. It was for fun, at first.
“I started doing this for myself,” Lenzi said. “Then I got back into the gym and started working out. I was taking classes, working with choreographers.”
Her students who shared the same dreams she once did, and still does, now serve as her inspiration.
“I wanted to represent South Jersey,” Lenzi said. “I want to serve as an example that you can be from here and do your thing.”
Her style has changed, as well. She describes it as Rihanna meets Chrisina Aguilera meets Gwen Stefani.
“It’s now more of a fun, dance, club music,” Lenzi said. “I do relationship songs, songs about women empowerment. I’m a single mom and I want to show you can do what you love. It’s very expressive.”
She describes herself as “very passionate” and said she surprises herself with some of the things she writes.
“I won’t sing about anything I can’t relate to,” Lenzi said. “Some of the things I write surprise me. Everything is empowering.”
She is now working in conjunction with Win Promotions and Consulting, which is run by Galloway Councilwoman Whitney Ullman.
“We grew up together and we’ve seen each other at marketing events,” Lenzi said of Ullman. “I wanted to reach out to her.”
Now, the thought of being bankrupt and not being able to turn on the TV is quickly becoming a distant memory, but not one Lenzi will forget.
“I appreciate every moment,” Lenzi said.
Her feelings on the Grammy’s have changed.
“The way things are moving, it’s going really fast,” Lenzi said. “ … The goal is to get to the Grammy’s.”