Timeless talent

Last updated: March 22. 2014 4:08PM - 531 Views
Marilyn Delk



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Melissa Manchester is a musical legend who has survived shifts and changes in the music industry and is still going strong thirty years after receiving her Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance. The legendary performer will sing at Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall on Saturday, April 5. If you enjoy hearing a lush, passionate voice performing melody-driven music – and who doesn’t? - you should be there.


A native of New York City whose father was a musician, Melissa studied acting at the city’s High School of the Performing Arts, then enrolled in a songwriting class taught by Paul Simon at New York University. She performed as a singer/pianist in Greenwich Village clubs, worked on the writing staff for Chappell Music, and sang jingles, which led to her meeting Barry Manilow who introduced her to Bette Midler – and the rest is history. Six months after playing Carnegie Hall as one of Midler’s backup singers, Melissa had a recording contract. And that’s only the beginning.


Melissa calls herself a singer who writes songs; she has collaborated with other stellar songwriters like Carole Bayer Sager and Kenny Loggins, composed scores for Disney movies, and written music for Broadway shows. Currently an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music, Melissa enjoys discussions with her students regarding the ongoing evolution in popular music. The melodic sentimental ballads that molded the era in which she first gained fame have been replaced by rhythm-driven songs topping the charts. But the artist believes that the heart resonates to long lines of lyrical melody; thus melody endures, still attracting listeners to music from the Great American Songbook.


The singer also has kept her acting skills intact co-starring with her old mentor Bette Midler in the film For the Boys, starring in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Song and Dance and Music of the Night and other stage productions including Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd with Kelsey Grammer, best known as TV’s Frasier. Melissa has also appeared in various popular television series.


But it is her singing that made her a star and that motivates her to keep going, her career’s survival made possible by pure talent and hard work. She says that regardless of new musical trends, the artist on stage performing songs gives audiences not only a moment of entertainment, but also provides clarity and enlightenment that might change a life. “That’s the power of a song; it can change a heart or a nation,” Melissa stated in an interview posted in the Huffington Post.


In case you need reminding, her hits include “Midnight Blue,” “Whenever I Call You Friend,” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud.” Her biggest hit ever, “You Should Hear How She Talks About You,” earned the Grammy Award in 1982. “I was mostly a troubadour; to have a song that was really uptempo and rocking to become a huge hit in aerobics classes across the U.S. was unbelievable,” Melissa tells the Huffpost interviewer. “I was trying different styles and trying not to lose my soul in the midst of it… but a well constructed song is a well constructed song,” she concludes.


Melissa Manchester will sing many well constructed songs during her concert in our community, and her powerful yet fluid voice will reach hearts and souls. Although her recent recordings may not have reached the top of current music charts, the timeless magic of a Melissa Manchester performance can still thrill audiences of all ages The show starts at 8 p.m. To reserve your seat, contact DCCA at 937-547-0908 or dcca@centerforarts.net; tickets may also be purchased on line at www.centerforarts.net and at the door the night of the performance if any remain by showtime.


Marilyn Delk is a Director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at marilynd@bright.net. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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