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With smoky and delicate vocals, cascading piano rhythms, gentle acoustic guitar riffs, and subtle, storytelling-based lyrics, Melissa offers an impressive range of songs that fuse elements of folk, indie pop, jazz and acoustic rock into her latest album release, entitled “Paper Hearts.”
*Melissa is the recent winner of 98.9 WMMO's Acoustic Showcase. She will be a featured artist on their Sunday Morning Acoustic Show.
“I wrote my first song at age 7 on a black upright Yamaha piano in our living room. I’m pretty sure it was terrible but my mom loved it. So as long as my brain has comprehended it was possible to write a song, I’ve been writing.
In 2003 she Sydney Schaef, a fellow singer/songwriter and they began to write and perform together throughout North Florida while at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Together they recorded and released an album “Intricate” through the independent Justice Road Productions label.
After graduating in 2006, she found her back in Orlando and eager for more creative outlets. In the winter of 2006, she joined The OaKs, a local indie band heavily influenced by the likes of Radiohead, The Album Leaf and Sigur Ros. She sang backing vocals, played glockenspiel, keyboard, Wurlitzer and melodica for The OaKs, a six-piece band that featured mandolin, trombone, accordion and trumpet layers. They released an album "Songs for Waiting" in March 2008, which garnered respectable reviews in the blogsphere and Paste Magazine. In addition to regular Orlando gigs, The OaKs performed in showcase sets at the Florida Music Festival in Orlando, SXSW 2008 in Austin, TX and the CMJ festival in New York City, even performing a set on NPR’s Public Radio International airwaves.
It was at that particular SXSW festival in Austin that Melissa attended the Hotel Cafe showcase at the Parish, featuring artists like Sara Bareilles, Joshua Radin, Ingrid Michaelson and Cary Brothers. "I was standing on my feet for 5 straight hours, about 6 feet away from the stage and I loved every minute of it. I was just amazed at artist after artist coming on-stage. Each performance was simple but so incredibly well-crafted and unique and I thought to myself, 'I wanna do that.' I mean, I was in a band at the time but I realized I wanted to do THAT. I was also just impressed by the level of support and love that the Hotel Cafe artists had for each other. It was this great songwriting community of friends. I knew I wanted to be a part of something like that."
After the OaKs broke up amicably in late 2008, Melissa backpacked throughout Australia for a few months before deciding to return home to Orlando, ready to write, record and perform.
"'Paper Hearts' is sort of a blend of all of my experiences, and musical influences over the past few years. There's folk, jazz, and pop influences. I branched out and experimented with different instruments, including the accordion and ukulele. In that time, I traveled to Africa and Australia. I had heartbreak. I saw real poverty for the first time. I found some great friends. For me, Paper Hearts is all about being changed and moved by the world and people around you. I really think everyone can find something in it they can enjoy, both musically and emotionally."
"Paper Hearts" will be released in late October/early November and will be available on iTunes, Amazon.com and other major digital music retailers.