Melanie Safka


The impossible takes a little longer
is that a joke?
the end, you'd have to be there, takes you all over.
and over again
Singing daughter
to mama
on the old lady
singing and laughing
the music is playing
sunset and other endings
it's a joke, and you're always there
sunset and other beginnings




When Melanie turned 27 years of age, on Feb. 3, 1974, she celebrated by giving a concert at New York's Metropolitan Opera House. She performed for more than two and a half hours and her fans responded with a wave of love and appreciation, showering her with gifts and, at the conclusion, according her a standing ovation and clamoring for still more songs. It was a special night -Melanie returning to her home town to perform on her birthday-- yet the feeling in the concert hall was familiar. The atmosphere -- one critic has called it "an anarchic level of intimacy" - was not unlike that which has been generated over the past several years in cities across America, in Europe, Japan, behind the Iron Curtain -- wherever Melanie has journeyed on the way to becoming an artist of internationally acclaimed stature.

Melanie has already captured many of the industry's major honors, including three Gold Records, a pair of ASCAP awards for her songwriting, and designations by both Billboard and Cash Box as #1 Female Vocalist. In 1971, UNICEF paid her a unique tribute by asking her to serve as its official spokeswoman, an honor Melanie responded to by embarking on a ten nation tour which netted hundreds of thousands of dollars for the World Children's Organization.

 Melanie Safka was born just across the river from Manhattan, in the suburb of Astoria, Long Island. The date was Feb. 3, 1947. Her father, Fred, ran a chain of discount stores. Her mother, Polly, a former jazz singer, became Melanie's first musical influence.

 "I started writing my own little songs," recalls Melanie, "mostly imitations of what I'd hear my mother singing around the house. It wasn't until I was 13 or 14 that I began to write about things I found in myself. " While still in high school, Melanie began singing in Greenwich Village coffee houses, passing the hat for nickels and dimes. Later she landed a one night a week job performing at a Jersey Shore bar, where she earned what seemed to her a staggering amount - $20 an evening. .

 Fresh from graduation ("They gave me a Senior Award for Best Posture. I guess no one else wanted it. "), Melanie decided to embark on an acting career. She enrolled in the American Academy in Manhattan and began the tedious show business shuffle known as "making the rounds". One day, quite by accident, she happened into the offices of a music publishing company. Her songs so impressed Peter Schekeryk, who was employed there, that he guided her to a recording contract. Her first album, "Born To Be," was released soon afterwards.

 "Born To Be" immediately established Melanie as a unique talent with seemingly unlimited potential. Critics and discerning record-buyers alike were drawn to the haunting, fragile voice which she deployed on material of striking originality. The record was a curious blend of many elements, among them wistfulness, humor, naivete, warmth, irony and exuberance. Melanie did Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man", an A. A. Milne poem she had set to music, and even a rousing "Merry Christmas". It wasn't your typical first album.

 Her follow-up LP, entitled simply ''Melanie", shed more light on Melanie the person. From the opening track, the defiant "Tuning My Guitar", to the closing tune, the plaintive "Take Me Home", it reflected a newfound maturity, even a disillusionment with her burgeoning career. The sad and funny "Any Guy", the bittersweet "Johnny Boy" and "Again", one of her most vivid evocations of loneliness, all offered new glimpses into the inner workings of he mind and spirit. The LP also contained "Beautiful People", a song which has become something of an anthem among Melanie fans the world over and the only one she never fails to sing during a course of a concert.

 In the Summer of 1969, Melanie was invited to perform at the Woodstock Festival. Upon getting to the backstage area, she learned that she was to follow Ravi Shankar, who had just electrified the audience of several thousand with a virtuoso display of sitar mastery. To make matters worse, it had begun to rain heavily. Amid prolonged shouting for still another Shankar encore, Melanie, still relatively unknown, walked out onstage. While she sang and strummed her guitar, flames began to flicker in the darkness. People were holding lit candles aloft as signs of solidarity. When Melanie completed her set, she exited to the roar of a standing ovation. The following Spring, "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)," her celebration in song of this event, was released. It became a Top 5 single and "Candles In The Rain. ", the album which contained it, matched its success, going on to become an R. I. A. A. Certified Gold Record.

 By this point, interest in Melanie was growing on a worldwide basis. The New Seekers' version of "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma," introduced many new listeners to Melanie's songwriting prowess. Late in the Summer of 1970, and riding on the success of her current chart single, "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)," Melanie visited England and scored another major triumph as one of the headliners at the Isle Of Wight Festival. A short time later, "Leftover Wine", Melanie's first live album, was released, the major portion of which was recorded at Carnegie Hall. This was followed by "The Good Book", an LP in which Melanie blended songs by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Judy Collins with some of her finest original work, including the unforgettable "Babe Rainbow" and the irrepressible "Nickel Song", both of which have become staples of her repertory. ,

 At this time, Melanie and her husband, Peter Schekeryk, formed their own company, Neighborhood Records. The label's first release was "Brand New Key', which became a number one single amassing total sales of more than 3 million copies and easily gaining for Melanie her first Gold Single. More Gold was on the way in the form of "Gather Me", an album, which was hailed by critics, as Melanie's most mature and fully realized, work to date. In terms of popular response, "Gather Me" was her pivotal album and in terms of honesty and emotional depth, it was most definitely a supreme achievement. . The LP contained such Melanie classics as "Little Bit Of Me", "Steppin' " "Some Say (1 Got Devil)" and "Centre Of The Circle", in addition to "Brand New Key" and its follow-up single, "Ring The Living Bell", which became another Top 20 hit.

 Melanie's 26th birthday was celebrated at Carnegie Hall and preserved in a two-record set, "Melanie At Carnegie Hall ", which was released in April, 1973. On October 3rd of that year, Melanie gave birth to her first child, a seven pound, seven ounce baby girl, which she and Peter named Leilah after a dark-haired princess of Persian legend.

 "As 1 See It Now", Melanie's first album for Arista, included nine new Melanie compositions, In addition, Melanie offered unforgettable renditions of the standard, "Yes, Sir, That's My Baby", Dylan's classic, "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right" and Jesse Winchester's "Yankee Lady (retitled "Yankee Man"). Soon after the release of this album, Melanie had a baby, a girl named Jeordie, on March 27, 1975.

 Her brand new album, "Sunsets And Other Beginnings" (released to coincide with her Australian tour) features seven new original songs as well as distinctive interpretations of Lerner and Lowe's classic, "Almost Like Being In Love", "You Can't Hurry Love" by Holland, Dozier, Holland and "I've Got My Mojo Working".





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