People Weekly July 27th 1992



Flower child chanteuse

She was an unknown 22-year-old folk singer with stage fright so severe that she got the dry heaves when her turn came to take the stage at Woodstock. As she walked out in front of the 500,000 spectators, she felt herself leaving her body. "I think it's a mechanism for when you are in total terror," she says. When her out-of-body experience ended, candles, which had been passed among the audience before her appearance, were lighting up the hillside, and the cult of Melanie was born. "Candles in the Rain." inspired by that luminous drizzle, became her first U.S. hit, followed by "Brand New Key" and "The Nickel Song." Melanie found her fans' adulation -- they would sit at her feet during concerts -- unnerving: "I was afraid of disappointing people."


During the disco '80s Melanie's record producers wanted her to "get glitzy." Instead she focused on song writing (winning an Emmy for the theme to TV's Beauty And the Beast).

 In 1989 she hit the road again, this time with the Woodstock 20th anniversary-reunion troupe. Now 45 and living in Clearwater, Fla., she sometimes shares the stage with daughters Leilah, 18, and Jeordie, 17 (husband and manager Peter Schekeryk, 49, and son Beau, 11, watch from the wings), which keeps her happily in the present. "When people want to talk only about the good old days," she says, "there's this horrible implication that you're nothing now. But I know I'm better than I used to be."


"Families who sing together have a great blend," says Melanie, with Jeordie (left) and Leilah.


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