"The Autumn Lady is laying now
On a mountain of feathers and down
She spent all her nights
And her days --
Wrote her days into songs"


"Autumn Lady"*

* Copyright 1974 Neighbourhood Music Publishing Corp.
Rights in the U.S. and Canada Administered by April Music Inc(ASCAP)

When Melanie turned 27 years of age, on Feb.3rd 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 clamouring for still more songs . It was a special night, Melanie returning to her home town to perform on her birthday, yet in the concert hall the feeling was familiar. The atmosphere (one critic described it as "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 her way to becoming an artist of internationally acclaimed stature.

Melanie has already captured many of the industry's major honours, including three Gold Records, a pair of ASCAP awards for her song-writing and designations by both Billboard and Cashbox as No. One Female Vocalist. In 1971 UNICEF paid her a unique tribute by asking her to serve as its official spokeswoman, an honour Melanie responded to by embarking on a ten nation tour which netted hundreds of thousands of dollars for the world children's organisation.

Melanie Safka was born just across the river from Manhattan, in the suburb of Astoria, Long Island. The date was Feb. 3rd 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 hustle 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 with Buddah Records. 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 her haunting, fragile voice which she deployed on material of striking originality. The record was a curious blend of many elements, among them wistfulness, humour, 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, titled 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 new found 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 her mind and spirit. The LP also contained "Beautiful People", a song which has become something of an anthem song among Melanie fans the world over and the only one she never fails to sing during the 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 hundred 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 world-wide basis. The New Seekers version of "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma" introduced many new listeners to Melanie's song-writing 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 head-liners at the Isle Of Wight Festival. A short time later, Buddah released "Leftover Wine", Melanie's first live album, 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 three million copies and easily gaining for Melanie her first Gold Single, a feat that she equalled with her "Gather Me" album soon afterwards. This album was hailed by critics as her most mature and fully realised 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(I Got Devil)" and "Center Of The Circle", in addition to "Brand New Key" and its follow-up single, "Ring The Living Bell", which became another Top 20 hit.

During 1972, Melanie travelled abroad to give concerts throughout Europe and Japan. Under the aegis of UNICEF she performed in Germany, Austria, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, England and Canada. One of the high points of this tour was her SRO appearance at the Royal Albert Hall. Her first visit to Japan was marked by enthusiastic receptions at concerts in Tokyo, Sapporo and Osaka.

In the Autumn of that year, Neighbourhood released "Stoneground Words", a collection of nine Melanie compositions plus a beautifully heartfelt version of Pete Seeger's "My Rainbow Race". The album marked another step forward for Melanie. While thematically it was most closely allied to "Gather Me", it seemed to signal a more pronounced point of view, whether the mood were one of lightheartedness or sober reflection. The delicate and thoughtful love song, "Together Alone", the hopeful "Do You Believe" and the torchy "Here I Am" (dedicated to Polly Safka) were only three of the excellent new songs to be found here.

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 '73. Melanie spent the Summer months of that year enjoying some time off from the rigours of touring, while awaiting the arrival of her first child. On October 3rd she gave birth to a seven pound, seven ounce Baby Girl, which she and Peter named Leilah after a dark haired princess of Persian legend.

Early in 1974 Neighbourhood released "Madrugada", which featured six Melanie compositions along with her interpretations of songs by Jagger/Richard, Woody Guthrie, Jim Croce and Randy Newman. This was followed the next winter by "As I See It Now", an LP which included nine new Melanie compositions, among them the single "You're Not A Bad Ghost, Just An Old Song". 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" (re-titled "Yankee Man").

A poster advertising a Melanie concert in Austria proclaimed "Melanie Sings Her Life". This has been Melanie's life to date.

There are many more songs in her future.

7501 US/AF

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