Friday, August 4, 1978 at 8:30p.m.


MELANIE Melanie (born Melanie Safka) has recorded 19 LPs and sold 22 million records. Her hits include universally recognized compositions like "Nickel Song," and "Candles In The Rain.-' But the real story is not the hits-it's what's been happening in the years since then, Melanie has been maturing. And her music has reflected that maturation. In 1971. "Brand New Key'. was Melanie's biggest single- The tune she wrote as an up-tempo interlude became her unwanted trademark. Article after article portrayed her (to quote Melanie) "as an ingenue, a sicky sweet person singing sicky sweet songs. " Melanie retreated to her home in Southern New Jersey, bad two babies and began to record albums of a vastly different nature: brooding, dark. with flashes of brightness. In 1975. she recorded Photo- graph (on Atlantic Records). Though the LP was only a modest commercial success, it startled many critics. The New York 7.imes' John Rockwell said that Melanie was "singing adult songs for adult audiences" and called the album one of the top ten LP's of the year, And writer Ann Vayda said of Melanie's "new. far more assertive style" and "her slightly gutteral tones quiver, trill. blast and whisper, yet her originality is in these variant, imperfect timbres that startle and surprise." Melanie's newest album, Phonogenic; Not Just Another Pretty Face (on Midsong International Records) will continue to surprise the members of the public who haven't followed her growth. It includes ten songs (four Melanie originals and six interpretations of tunes by other writers) that informally trace a woman's emotional growth. With compositions like Jesse Winchester's "Yankee Man" (formerly "Yankee Lady") and the R&B classic "Knock On Wood," Melanie sketches the early adolescent years when a woman imagines that one man and one love will bring life to an eternal high point of passion. With songs like her own "Runnin' After Love'. and Carole Bayer Sager's "I'd Rather Leave While I'm In Love" she paints the gradual realization that all loves end in pain. Melanie was bom in New York City.

Her father was Ukrainian, her mother is a jazz songstress. At 16, Melanie was singing Monday nights in the clubs of Long Branch, New Jersey (where her family bad moved). and coming into New York to sing in coffee houses by young hopefuls like Ritchie Havens. Melanie studied acting at New York's American Academy of Fine Arts. One day, when she asked for directions to an acting audition at 1690 Broadway, the doorman misdirected her to a music company. The company's owners saw she was carrying a guitar, auditioned her, introduced her to her current husband and producer Peter Schekeryk, and signed her up. The result was a recording career that took her to the top of the charts in France, the Netherlands, Australia and America, a career that produced an image she couldn't tolerate, and a career that made her feel like "a willing victim of touring and performing." When Melanie settled into her Southern Jersey home to have her children in 1971 , she began to change, to gain a new strength. "I'd been a performer but not a participant, " she explains. "1 never wanted anyone to feel l was pushing people around. l wasn't sure what l wanted to express in musical terms. Now I'm not afraid to talk to lawyers about business. I'm not afraid to tell the engineers and producer what I want the sound to be like. With Phonogenic, Not Just Another Prettv Face - an album that includes . jolting, joyfully intense backup from studio session men like the Brecker Brothers, David Sanbourn, Richard Tee, Arthur Jenkins, Will Lee, Chris Parker, and Hugh McCracken (who acts as musical director) - Melanie has put the power of that liberation in song.

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