Musician Lisa Loeb has the unique distinction of being the first person to score a number one single without having a record contract, and she has the movies to thank for it. In 1994, Loeb was a singer and songwriter who had a small but loyal following and had yet to attract the attention of a major record label. However, one of Loeb's fans was actor Ethan Hawke, who had purchased a self-released cassette-only album Loeb sold at her live shows. Hawke was quite fond of Loeb's songs, and while working on the film Reality Bites, he suggested to director and co-star Ben Stiller that one of Loeb's new tunes, "Stay," might be a good fit for the film's soundtrack. "Stay" appeared in the movie and made the cut for the soundtrack album; released as a single, the tune became a sensation on radio, and stayed at the top of the Billboard Top 40 Singles chart for three weeks, landing Loeb in the record books.
Lisa Loeb was born in Maryland on March 11, 1968, and raised in a suburb of Dallas, TX, where her father was a doctor. Loeb developed a passionate interest in pop music early on, cutting her teeth on the records of Elton John, Olivia Newton-John, and Kiss, and as a student at the prestigious Hockaday School, she studied music theory, piano, and dance, as well as spinned records at the school's radio station and appeared in school musicals. While in high school, Loeb picked up the guitar, in part because her older sibling, an accomplished classical pianist, was dominating the family piano, and the guitar was something she could practice in her own room. Loeb went on to attend Brown University, where she formed a pop group called Liz and Lisa (another member of the group was Duncan Shiek, who later enjoyed success of his own as a singer/songwriter). After graduating from Brown, Loeb moved to New York City, and formed a group called Nine Stories, named for the short story collection by J.D. Sallinger. Loeb and Nine Stories began gigging steadily around the East Coast and Midwest, and with the help of her friend Juan Patino (a recording producer and engineer), she recorded her so-called "Purple Tape," which attracted the attention of Ethan Hawke and led to her appearance on the soundtrack of Reality Bites. After the success of "Stay," a number of major labels were bidding for Loeb's services, and she eventually signed with Geffen Records, who released her first full-length album, Tails, in 1995. Firecracker followed in 1997, then Cake and Pie's American release in 2002.
In addition to Reality Bites, Loeb's songs have been used in the films Twister and Anywhere but Here; her song "Truthfully" was written for One Fine Day, though the producers opted not to use it (it appeared instead on the Firecracker album). Loeb also played small roles in the films Black Circle Boys and House on Haunted Hill, and she's done guest shots on the television series The Nanny and The Drew Carey Show.