Pop/Rock, Jesus Rock, Religious
Folk, Folk-Pop, Singer/Songwriter, Folk-Rock, Jesus Rock, AM Pop, Religious, Contemporary Christian, Soft Rock
Earnest, Intimate, Gentle, Amiable/Good-Natured, Bittersweet, Wistful, Laid-Back/Mellow, Happy
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Full Name at Birth
Melanie Anne Safka
Profile Bio Text
Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk (born February 3, 1947) is an American singer-songwriter. Known professionally as Melanie, she is best known for her hits "Brand New Key", "Ruby Tuesday", "What Have They Done To My Song Ma" and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)".
Melanie was born and grew up in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York City, New York. Her father, Fred, was of a Russian-Ukrainian ethnic background and her jazz singer mother, Polly, was of Italian heritage. Melanie made her first public singing appearance at age four on the radio show Live Like A Millionaire, performing the song "Gimme a Little Kiss". She attended Red Bank High School in Red Bank, New Jersey, graduating in 1966. After school, her parents insisted that she go to college, so she studied acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, where she began singing in the folk clubs of Greenwich Village and signed her first recording contract.
Initially signed to Columbia Records in the United States, Melanie released two singles on the label. Subsequently she signed with Buddah Records and first found chart success in Europe in 1969 with "Bobo's Party" which reached Number 1 in France. Her debut album received rave reviews from Billboard which heralded her voice as "... wise beyond her years. Her non-conformist approach to the selections on this LP make her a new talent to be reckoned with."
Later in 1969, Melanie had a hit in the Netherlands with "Beautiful People". She also performed at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 and the inspiration for her signature song, "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)", apparently arose from the Woodstock audience lighting candles during her set (although most of the "candles" were actually matches or lighters). The recording became a hit in Europe, Australia, Canada, and the United States in 1970. The B-side of the single featured Melanie's spoken-word track "Candles in the Rain". "Lay Down" became Melanie's first Top Ten hit in America, peaking at Number 6 on the Billboard singles chart and achieving worldwide success. Later hits included "Peace Will Come (According To Plan)" and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday".
n 1970, Melanie was the only artist to brave the court injunction banning the Powder Ridge Rock Festival, playing for the crowd on a homemade stage powered by Mister Softee trucks. Shortly following this performance, she played at the Strawberry Fields Festival, held from August 7 to 9, 1970, at Mosport Park, Ontario. She also performed at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970 where she was introduced by Keith Moon and received four standing ovations (she also appeared 40 years later at the 2010 Isle of Wight festival). She was also the artist who sang to herald in the summer solstice at Glastonbury Fayre (later the Glastonbury Festival) in England in June 1971. She performed again at Glastonbury in 2011, the fortieth anniversary of the original festival.
Melanie married Peter Schekeryk around 1970 and they had three children. Melanie left Buddah Records when they insisted that she produce albums on demand. In 1971 she formed her own label, Neighborhood Records, with Schekeryk, who was also her producer.
Melanie had her biggest American hit on the Neighborhood label: the novelty-sounding 1972 number one "Brand New Key" (often referred to as "The Roller Skate Song"). "Brand New Key" sold over three million copies worldwide and was featured in the 1997 movie Boogie Nights.
When first released, "Brand New Key" was banned by some radio stations because some saw sexual innuendo in the lyrics. Melanie has acknowledged the possibility of reading an unintended sexual innuendo in the song, stating, "I wrote [Brand New Key] in about fifteen minutes one night. I thought it was cute; a kind of old thirties' tune. I guess a key and a lock have always been Freudian symbols, and pretty obvious ones at that. There was no deep serious expression behind the song, but people read things into it. They made up incredible stories as to what the lyrics said and what the song meant. In some places, it was even banned from the radio [...] My idea about songs is that once you write them, you have very little say in their life afterward [...] People will take it any way they want to take it.
The follow-up single to "Brand New Key" was "Ring the Living Bell". To compete with this release, Melanie's former record company released "The Nickel Song", which she had recorded while still signed to Buddah Records. Both songs were simultaneous Top 40 hits while "Brand New Key" was still on the charts — setting a record for the first female performer to have three Top 40 hits concurrently. Melanie was awarded Billboard's #1 Top Female Vocalist awar
Queens, New York
Singer, songwriter, musician
Claim to Fame
Ruby Tuesday (1970)
Folk, Pop, Country
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