Raised with an appreciation for all types of music, award-winning alternative artist/songwriter/musician Melissa VanFleet has successfully created her own unique sound, combining influences from rock, soul, and blues. In addition to her seasoned and consistent voice and her ability to effortlessly play instruments by ear, Melissa's honest lyrics and catchy, moving melodies earn her much appraisal among listeners. These traits are all on full display in her strong debut release, the carefully crafted EP "Stars In My Eyes", available now on iTunes.
A self-taught vocalist from a very young age, Melissa received a karaoke machine when she was seven years old and considers it the most beneficial form of training she could imagine. "As a little girl, I used to record my voice singing popular 90s songs and then listen back and critique every single note and write down what I thought I could improve on," she recalls. "It was my idea of fun at the time but I never realized how much I was actually learning through the process. I was and still am a massive perfectionist!" Melissa began to take music seriously upon completion of her first studio recording at age 12 and immediately fell in love with the complete art of creating music. She is also an accomplished dancer and credits her 20+ years of extensive dance training in all styles and competing experience for the acquisition of stage presence during her engaging live performances.
In the early stages of Melissa's musical journey, she frequently worked with acclaimed pop and R&B producers in New York City and New Jersey studios. In 2008, she was recruited from Pennsylvania to Nashville to pursue her dreams further. During her four years in Nashville, she focused on consummating all aspects of her career, honed in on her songwriting and style, and progressively gained an incredible amount of experiential knowledge about the music industry. She performed her original material nightly in preeminent listening rooms such as The Bluebird Cafe and twice weekly played her ever-expanding repertoire of cover songs of all genres on piano at Ellendale's, an upscale restaurant in the area. From entertaining patrons at The Drake Hotel's notorious Coq d'Or in Chicago to performing regularly at NYC's oldest rock club The Bitter End, Melissa has treated crowds all over the country to her impressive acoustic live show. She has shared the stage with many of her idols and inspirations, including the world-famous Glenn Miller Orchestra, has had the honor of being featured by one of her favorite multi-platinum rock groups Incubus on their online presence for her cover video of their hit single "Promises, Promises", and was recently dubbed a "stellar chanteuse" by Chicago's Modern Luxury magazine.
In 2011, Melissa met producer Joel Schwamburger in Nashville and was confident in the pairing from the moment they began working together. "I went into this project with a vivid artistic vision. I wanted a dramatic and atmospheric deliverance of these songs that absolutely mean the world to me," she explains. "I heard an entire orchestra in my head when I was writing, and Joel's natural cinematic style and string arrangement concepts lined up with my ideas perfectly." Melissa's soul has been poured into every lyric, piano note, and guitar lick of her EP, which features the original songs "Stars In My Eyes", "Lovestruck", "Play By The Rules", "Cut The Ties", and a bonus acoustic version of "Martyr". She has teamed up with and is donating a portion of the proceeds from her EP to the NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence), a non-profit organization working to end violence in the lives of women and children. Another issue that has always been close to Melissa's heart is the preservation of harp seals. All sales of her original song "Cold As Ice", also available on iTunes, are being donated to several charities striving to protect seals.
Melissa, now based out of New York City, is currently promoting her new release and captivating audiences with her original material in popular and legendary venues all over the United States as her songs garner radio airplay and stream worldwide on Internet radio shows daily to millions of listeners. As her social networking supporters climb and more and more people familiarize themselves with Melissa's unique sound, her tireless dedication and drive, clear vision, and positive mindset toward the always-changing music business proves that she is a true artist with staying power.