Grammy Award-winning artist MELISSA MANCHESTER was born in New York, where her father was a bassoonist for the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra. He introduced her to all the classics, and by the age of 15, MELISSA was already a published poet.
After graduating from the High School of Performing Arts (where she studied acting), MELISSA entered New York University and enrolled in a songwriting class taught by Paul Simon. She landed a staff writing job at Chappell Music and performed as a solo singer/pianist at the clubs of Greenwich Village and Manhattan's Upper West Side. There she met Bette Midler, who asked MELISSA to be a part of her acclaimed cabaret act. As a back-up singer for Midler (MELISSA was one of the original Harlettes), MELISSA Fulfilled her childhood fantasy of playing New York's Carnegie Hall. Six months later, she had a recording contract, and shortly thereafter was headlining Carnegie Hall and performing for sold-out audiences.
MELISSA'S albums have served to establish her as one of the most compelling singer/songwriters in contemporary music. Her debut albums HOME TO MYSELF and BRIGHT EYES positioned her as a dynamic new talent, and her gold album MELISSA launched the smash hit single "Midnight Blue". "Lovers After All" (From her FOR THE WORKING GIRL LP, a sensual ballad that she wrote and performed as a duet with Peabo Bryson, was was a hit on both the pop and R&B charts. MELISSA also co-wrote "Whenever I Call You Friend." with Kenny Loggins, which has become a classic radio Standard.
In 1980, she became the first artist in the history of the Academy Awards to have two nominated movie themes in a given year. ICE CASTLES AND THE PROMISE. MELISSA Continued making history by performing both of these works in there entirety during the ceremony that year.
MELISSA received a Grammy Award in 1982 for Best Female Vocalist for the TOP FIVE 'You Should Hear How She Talks About You", from HEY RICKY LP.
For her l989 album TRIBUTE, MELISSA MANCHESTER came full circle, honoring the singers who influenced her. From Garland to Streisand, Piaf to Fitzgerald, MELISSA paid a sincere and touching tribute to some remarkable entertainers with this acclaimed collection classics.
On the acting front, MELISSA also combined her acting and singing into a recurring role in the TV hit series BLOSSOM (as Blossom's mother, Maddy) which premiered its season with a two-hour special, filmed in Paris in the summer of '93. And she went on to work once again with Bette Midler, co-starring in the 20th Century Fox film For The Boys.
During the summer of '94, MELISSA recorded and released a new album on Atlantic Records titled IF MY HEART HAD WINGS, of which Michael Paoletta of Paper magazine noted: "Strong Sentiments. Gorgeous new album. Simple reminders of why we've always loved her. Lucky for us, she's come home again'.
In yet another career first for her, MELISSA wrote a musical that appeared off-Broadway in New York City. Titled "I Sent A Letter To My Love'. the show was based on the Bernice Rubens novel that eventually was turned into an acclaimed film starring Simone Signoret. Clive Barnes of the New York Post described the musical as "...moving and tuneful ... altogether a winner ..." He continued to describe MELISSA's music as "a score with a heart just where its heart should be. I loved it."
With the l997 release of THE ESSENCE OF MELISSA MANCHESTER released on Arista Records (the label where her career began), MELISSA had a chance to reflect back on her career and offer her fans a personalized compilation of songs by hand-picking some of her favorites from her 13 Arista albums.
As MELISSA explains, "it's a comprehensive overview of the work I created when I was at Arista and I think it takes the listener on a journey of the walk I was taking during those years. There were very specific issues that were new, such as a particular strand of women's consciousness that was starting to be incorporated into songs like never before.
"I was never really aware of how true that was until started to look back on the songs', she elaborates. "In truth, a lot of these songs could have been written by women, and although I was concerned with gender issues (i.e. women's rights) at the time the songs were mainly the result of conversations between Carole and I. On the other hand, I knew from my fans that they responded to my music regardless of gender, because they were mostly songs about self-affirmation."
And as MELISSA explains in the liner notes for THE ESSENCE OF MELISSA MANCHESTER, I wasn't really defining myself as a woman with issues. The songs work in terms of romantic friendship, platonic friendship, or friendship with oneself. "
Kicking off with "If It Feels Good and "Easy" from her 1973 debut HOME TO MYSELF, the album moves through an array of newly remastered MELISSA MANCHESTER classics such as the Top Ten smash single "Midnight Blue" from 1975's MELISSA; the gospel-tinged "O Heaven" from l974's BRIGHT EYES; "Though The Eyes Of Love" originally recorded for the soundtrack of the film Ice Castles and included on her l983 GREATEST HITS album; "Whenever I Call You Friend" (which she co-wrote with Kenny Loggins) from l979's MELISSA MANCHESTER; the aforementioned duet "Lovers After All" with Peabo Bryson; the pop standard "Come In From The Rain" from l976's BETTER DAYS & HAPPY ENDINGS; and the classic Top Ten pop hit "Don't Cry Out Loud" from the l978 album of the same name.
Featured in the liner notes for THE ESSENCE OF MELISSA MANCHESTER are quotes from two of MELISSA's biggest fans and closest friends: Barry Manilow and songwriter Carole Bayer Sager, with whom MELISSA wrote a majority of her classic and most memorable hits.
"As a singer, she possesses one of the finest voices in America", says Manilow of the Grammy Award-winning singer. Only Streisand and Garland come close...As a writer, she touches deep emotions and provokes thoughts touches deep emotions and provokes thoughts ... As a friend, I consider MELISSA an angel in my lifetime. And Carole Bayer Sager offers: "I've watched MELISSA as she grew from a young background singer...to a woman who now takes center stage and captivates audiences the world over by the sheer beauty, power and passion of her voice and her songs."
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