Described as having “the style of Karen Carpenter with the whispering of Melissa Etheridge”, my guest on the blog this week is singer/songwriter/recording artist and down to earth nature girl Melissa D from the New England state of Vermont. Hi Melissa & welcome….
Hey, My name is Melissa D and I am a recording artist and singer/songwriter. I do Americana Folk Rock.
What made you decide to pursue a solo musical career as an independent singer/songwriter?
I have been in bands for years and have always written songs on my own but never had the courage to perform/record them. As I got older, I realized that my worst fear was that I would die with my music inside me so I started taking steps to make these dreams come true. I live in a rural area and I am an independent artist so I cannot do it in the conventional way (big tours and major record deals), but I am finding my own way in a grassroots/on the ground kind of way that feels so empowering and enjoyable! The internet has made it possible for independent artists to have a voice and get themselves out there. I am so grateful for this!
Your single – “Love Of My Life” – was written for your husband, Alan. You kept the single a secret until your wedding day, when you surprised him by having the recording played at your wedding. How romantic! Obviously your husband was the inspiration behind this particular song – but your your other tunes, where do you most often find inspiration?
My inspiration comes mostly from being out in nature. I love the quiet and calm of sitting by a river or smelling the night air and looking at the stars. It helps me to think and process things. I also get inspired by road trips and doing mundane household tasks like dishes or cleaning. I like to write about life experiences and other people’s experiences. I have had a lot of relationships gone bad before my husband Alan, so this gives me lots of material to work with…lol
You are currently a solo artist, but in the past you were a former rock front-woman for The Alley Katz and a previous member of CHILL, an acoustic act. What are the main advantages & disadvantages of being a solo artist? Do you miss not being part of a group?
Being solo is cool in that I don’t have to run my ideas by a bunch of people. I can do what I want. I tend to be a people pleaser (I am working on curing that….lol) and I would do songs or stuff I didn’t want to do to make bandmates/band leaders happy. Also, it is challenging as a woman being in a male dominated industry when you are in a group. Often your ideas can get dismissed or you are seen as “just the singer” or you get hit on. But on the flip side of that there is a challenge when you are solo in that as a woman you feel more vulnerable plus I am an introvert (which means I tend to be more reserved and quiet and I need alone time to “recharge my batteries”) so that heightens that sense of vulnerability. This has been a challenge but the immense freedom and excitement that I feel being solo is amazing. I have a wonderful network of musician colleagues that I continue to work with in terms of gigs, recording and jamming so I still get to grow professionally but at the end of the day, I feel more empowered than I have ever felt with my music.
You are a classically trained vocalist – but, what were your musical influences growing up?
Oh so many! John Denver, Stevie Nicks, Karen Carpenter, Amy Grant, Linda Ronstadt, hymns and Christian music that I would sing in church, Pretty much most 80’s pop. James Taylor and Melissa Etheridge songs were the anthems of my young adult years!
Have you always wanted to be a musician or did you have any other career in mind?
Music is a calling and I have always done it at some level. Its just what I do. For my “day job” I have a master’s degree in counseling and I work in the helping profession, which I feel is another calling for me.
Hypothetically speaking, if you were able to perform a duet with any singer, dead or alive, who would you sing with and what song would you pick?
Wow, tough one to pick….I would say, John Denver – Leaving on a Jet Plane.
What genre of music do you personally listen to?
I pretty much listen to and am open to all genres except for hardcore rap, but tend to gravitate mostly towards 80’s rock, Americana, folk rock, blues, blue grass, meditation, ambient music. I also love instrumental piano and guitar, gospel and Gregorian chant (accepela music).
What was the last concert you attended?
Enerjazz, my brother’s jazz band.
Imagine you are driving through your country lanes of southern Vermont – what song would be top of your list to croon to whilst playing car karaoke?
“You got a friend” – James Taylor
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
I love jeans and t-shirts and hanging out clothes like cozy flannel shirts, but I also love anything with bling and bright colors and lace like when I am dressing up. I think my favorite outfit is a well broken in pair of jeans with a cool, funky shirt with a bit of bling. For shoes, I love hiking boots, pretty little flats and of course cowboy boots! I am not one for heels, never have been but admire them but more like a piece of art…lol
Do you have any favourite designers?
Not really, I just buy what is comfortable and looks cool!
Boots or Shoes?
hmmmmm, well living in Vermont, you have to have boots, that’s how you survive the long winters, but I do have quite a few shoes.
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can learn more you & follow your career.
I am giving away a “care package” of 4 songs plus access to my Kindred community @ vermontmadesongs.net My website is melissadmusic.com. All the links to my SM are on there. I also have a facebook group for Introverts and Empaths called “Innies who love music & stories”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1984956098449512/?source_id=563170250437106
Great talking to you Melissa – fabulous choice for car karaoke – “You’ve Got A Friend” is one of those tunes I belt out (badly) in the car too!
All photos have been published with kind permission of Melissa D