Greetings, music lovers! I’m back with yet another spotlight article. This time we go back up the eastern coast of the U.S.A. all the way to Vermont. Ok so Vermont isn’t exactly on the coast (thanks, New Hampshire!) but it’s close enough. Anyway, this month’s conversion is with singer Melissa D, our October, 2020 featured artist!
Melissa D is an Americana Folk-Rock artist who so far has put out 2 EPs and 3 singles. Her favorite artist is Caitlin Canty, and her influences also include Brandi Carlile, Jewel, Melissa Ethridge, Karen Carpenter, John Denver, and Dolly Parton. Aside from their music, she likes those artists because they are/were “all just so real and authentic in their presentation and music and also so incredibly talented.”
(Fellow musicians take note: be real and authentic!)
She is currently working on releasing 2 more singles and hopes to have those out by the end of this year. She considers the highlight of her career thus far to be the release of her EP Little Girl which was subsequently played on several radio shows and featured in some blogs.
Early Years of Melissa D
Melissa was actually born in Wichita, Kansas, and her mother is from Oklahoma—both states being part of what we call the heartland of the USA. Although her family moved to VT when she was 4, she never did shed her Midwestern roots: “I used to talk with a Kansas/Oklahoma accent as a little girl and it still comes out sometimes in my singing.”
Melissa D began her 20-plus-year musical career at age 6 by singing solos in church. From there, as she explains, “I started taking voice lessons as a child and in college. After college, I joined a rock band and did a ton of performances at venues and weddings, for quite a few years and traveled around a bit doing that. Around 2013, I was longing to get back into the business again and I joined a new grass group and then I was in an acoustic duo called CHILL for a couple of years. I did some recording with CHILL and fell in love with being in the studio. It ignited my childhood recording artist dreams! In 2016, I decided to strike out on my own as a solo artist and focus more on studio work.”
With that being said, Melissa told me she does also enjoy playing out live: “I like listening rooms the best where they serve food, yummy desserts and coffee and have big overstuffed chairs and couches. I also enjoy playing town halls and theatres. There’s a beautiful little theater in Alstead, NH called the Mole Hill Theatre. It’s an intimate theatre that is like a hybrid mix of a listening room/theatre and it has a bigger theatre sound. Its BYOB and everyone brings a dish like a potluck. I also like house concerts. That is where you really get to connect with people. I once played on a train while it was moving—that was pretty cool.”
(I like trains! 😁)
Melissa D has also toured throughout New England and even got to do a show in old England—the O.G. England…the one on the other side of the Atlantic. You know what I mean :).
Most recently she was able to perform at a local “Art in the Park” festival.
(A nice step toward normalcy after such a tumultuous spring and summer, huh?)
Like many artists, Melissa’s career has had its share of bumps in the road. For example, as she recounts: “I had a music teacher in high school who was mean to me and discouraged me from singing. She gave me an F in chorus and I stopped my involvement in the choir until I was in college.”
(Yikes. Another suppressive music teacher. Where have we heard THAT before? *sigh*.)
Anyway, the good news is Melissa didn’t let that experience stop her: “Luckily, I did not listen to her. I had a very supportive voice lesson teacher in college. He believed in me and helped me develop my voice.”
Melissa D elaborates further on some other career-defining moments: “I would say it was many moments. When I was younger, I had the dream of being “discovered” and getting a record deal like most people do because that is what is known, but the more I learned about the industry, the more I disliked it. It’s like a game with smoke and mirrors that they want you to keep up on.
“As the internet grew and I saw other independent artists having success just by sharing their work with a core fan base, I thought, ‘Hey! Why not me? I get to do what I want, and I answer only to myself.’ I get to create music and share it with people who support my journey and connect with them. That is all I ever really wanted.
“When I was a kid and pictured doing music as an adult, I just knew that I wanted to sing, make records, and share them. I didn’t really picture sold out stadiums or making a million dollars. Just to know that my music is out in the world and people are enjoying it makes me very happy and I feel connected and like I am part of something bigger than myself. With the internet it is now easier than ever to get your music out into the world.”
“Just to know that my music is out in the world and people are enjoying it makes me very happy.” – Melissa D
(The moral of the story: don’t give up.)
Accolades & Fun Facts
Melissa’s perseverance has certainly paid off: she won a karaoke contest and a $100 prize when she was just 22. More recently, her music has been featured on Women of Substance Radio several times over the past few years. She’s also been featured in many local press publications where she lives, including The Rutland Herald and The Addison County Independent. Online, you can read more about her on blogs such as Ear To The Ground Music (E2TG), vermontweddings.com, Michale Doherty’s Music Blog, rulabrownnetwork.com, and bootsshoesandfashion.com.
When she’s not making music, Melissa loves spending time with her very supportive husband, dog, and cats. Her interests also include animal rescue, dogs, cats, critters, hiking, being out in nature, swimming, yoga, reading and listening to podcasts. She also enjoys French fries and coffee, though not necessarily at the same time :).
I asked Melissa if she had any pieces of advice she wanted to share with the readers. She responded: “Be you and do the things that bring you joy. You do not have to do something just because everyone else in your industry is doing it or “recommending” that you do it. For example, when the pandemic started everyone was doing Facebook lives which are awesome but I felt pressured at first and like I “should” do them too. Then I realized that I am doing enough, and my current projects keep me busy. It doesn’t mean I might not try a Facebook live down the road its just I don’t need to do it just because everyone else is doing it. If you take on too many things, then it is a recipe for burn out!”
For the musicians out there who might be reading this, she adds: “Don’t give up on your dream. You can do this. Just take a little step or two on most days towards your goal and you will make it happen. Record deals are overrated. They are basically a glorified loan that you must pay back and then you are basically their puppet that can be dropped anytime at their whim. It sounded so glamorous and amazing to me when I was younger but I have had a few musician colleagues that have suffered at the hands of record labels. It doesn’t mean they are all bad but just be careful, get a good lawyer, etc.
“Don’t worry about making mistakes. There is a great quote from John Mayer which is “Mistakes are the exhaust of the dream machine.” You will make mistakes and bad decisions but just keep moving forward. Don’t take it too seriously because then it will start to feel like work and once that happens then the magic is gone. However, do treat your music as a fun and creative business or a startup, show up, follow through, schedule time to create, have a business checking account. Stay away from the game. People play games of how well they are doing, they are not. Live on your own terms.”
“Live on your own terms.” I like the sound of that!
Here’s where you can connect with Melissa D:
Want more from Melissa? Download your FREE 4-song care package here!