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Melanie Safka Schekeryk

At the beginning of her career, Melanie was hailed as "the most creative, impressive young performer on today's folk scene" (Billboard). Over the course of two decades, the sympathetic singer has sold around 23 million records worldwide. At her best she was permanently represented in the international bestseller lists with her soft but powerful melodies. Their dedicated songs conjured up hippie dreams once again. In the mid-70s it became quiet about "a performer with an incomparable charisma" (Record World). Melanie retired to her private life and devoted herself to her children. In 1978, she tried to make a comeback.
Melanie Safka was born to Ukrainian / Italian parents on February 3, 1947 in Queens, New York. Her mother sang jazz and blues, and one of her uncles was a folk musician. She began playing the ukulele at the age of six, but was influenced by Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan, but wanted to go to the theatre. Melanie Safka studied at the American Academy of Fine Arts and performed in folk clubs in Greenwich Village, New York. Columbia Records allowed her to release the single "Beautiful People" in 1967, but when Melanie found out that the label favoured other female singers like Michele Lee, she withdrew from the contract.
The musical career of Melanie Safka came quite by chance. They say Melanie was supposed to audition for a stage role sometime in 1968. She got the address wrong and ended up in the office of music publisher Peter Schekeryk, to whom she sang and who immediately took over her management. In 1971, he became her producer and husband. From the first LP "Born To Be" a revised version of "Beautiful People" was released. On August 16, 1969, she performed at the Woodstock Festival during a severe thunderstorm, which inspired her to the song "Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)" . They released their second album, "Affectionately Melanie".
Melanie, who mostly accompanied herself only with the guitar, became a leading figure of the hippie generation. She presented her repertoire in New York's sold-out Town Hall and received brilliant reviews: "She won her audience in minutes and captivated it for an evening. A glance at the crowded house made it clear that this inconspicuous, natural girl had made her dream come true" (Cashbox). Her broken voice and narrative style fascinated fans and critics alike.
Supported by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, she reached the charts for the first time with the anthem-like "Lay Down" (US #4) in the summer of 1970. She made a guest appearance at the Isle of Wight Festival and toured the UK in November 1970. The girl with long brown hair, big dark eyes and a preference for tight, long velvet dresses and leather boots built bridges between rock and folk fans and the pop generation, singing about love, loneliness and fear, about aging, against war and violence and for solidarity. She also used her popularity as an ambassador for UNICEF.
Between 1970 and 1972, Melanie achieved her greatest commercial success with the singles "Peace Will Come" (US #22), "Brand New Key" (GB #3, US #1, D #23), "Ring The Living Bell" (US #21, D #41), "Nickel Song" (US #40, D #43) and the albums "Candles In The Rain" (GB #3, US #8, D #33), "Leftover Wine" (GB #25, US #20), "The Good Book" (GB #12, D #16), "Gather Me" (GB #11, US #11, US #11, US #11, US #1 and "Garden In The City" (GB #14) as well as their interpretation of the Rolling Stones titles "Ruby Tuesday" (GB #8, US #42, D #6). In late 1971, her records were released on Neighborhood Records, a newly founded label with her husband Schekeryk. In 1973, their record sales declined significantly. The last chart position was recorded in July 1974 with the single "Lover's Cross" (US #73). After the release of "Sunset And Other Beginnings", she left her record label in 1975.
Melanie signed a new contract with Atlantic Records, and in 1976 "Photograph" was released, produced by company manager Ahmet Ertegun. Jazz rock celebrities from David Sanborn to the Brecker Brothers supported them on "Photogenic / Not Just Another Pretty Face", but they also failed to make the LP a success. After a tour of Australia, which ended at the Sydney Opera House, and the live double album "Ballroom Streets", the singer temporarily retired to her private life.
Only accompanied by a guitarist, Melanie came to Germany in the winter of 1982 and sang her old hits in a program with Donovan. The new album "Arabesque" sold poorly, although the critics were impressed by it. In 1984, her live repertoire consisted of songs from the new album "Seventh Wave", tried-and-tested oldies and songs from the Broadway play "Ace Of Diamonds", in which she debuted as an actress.
In 1987, she released "Am I Real Or What". In 1989, Melanie participated in the Woodstock 20th Anniversary Tour and won an Emmy for her lyrics to the music of the TV series "Beauty And The Beast". She occasionally performed with her daughters Jeordie and Leilah, who were involved in the Safka Folk Group in Denver, Colorado. In the 1990s, Melanie released sporadic albums on small labels that received little attention. In 1994 she was invited to the second edition of the Woodstock spectacle.
up to here : Rock music lexicon 1995
Melanie Safka releases best CD for over 10 years - "Paled by dimmer light"
The last 10 years have been very moving for Melanie. Not only did her three children grow up and she became a grandmother of two by the children of her eldest daughter Leilah, no, she also moved from Florida to Nashville in 2003. This move and the fact that her son Beau Jarred now makes music together with her was certainly the turning point for Melanie in the ups and downs of the last 10 years, in which she not only re-recorded old songs (Silver An. . . 1994), released live albums of different levels, but also highlights such as "Silence is King" 1996 and "Antlers", her first and only Christmas CD, which was re-released in 2004. 1999 a comeback attempt in Germany with a CD, which however contained too many old re-recorded tracks and must therefore be regarded as a failure. More than two TV appearances with "Ruby Tuesday '99" and an interview on DLF did not come out.
In 2002, along with "Moments from my life", a CD with cover versions, their first really new CD "Crazy Love" was released in the USA. 2003 followed the release in Holland with a successful, sold-out tour in front of more than 5000 enthusiastic fans. Her son contributed a lot to the success with new musical ideas that Melanie incorporated into her songs.
In 2004, Melanie succeeded with "Paled by dimmer light", which was released all over Europe, probably the best CD since more than 10 years. This CD contains some new songs and some songs from the "Crazy Love" CD, which remained withheld from a wide audience. Since the summer of 2004, Melanie has given numerous concerts in the USA, Belgium and the Netherlands. This ongoing tour arrives in Hamburg on October 20, 2004, at the factory and continues in the Netherlands and Austria. Almost all concerts were sold out so far. Melanie now sings in smaller houses, so that her music and the contact with the audience are preserved. After the show, she takes the time to see her fans in person and sign autographs.
Her son Beau Jarred also accompanies her on this tour and has finished his first CD, which can be ordered on Melanie's website or bought at the concerts. A CD that shows the skills of this young guitarist and presents mainly "Flamenco"-influenced music.
Melanie Safka Schekeryk is alive and still makes excellent music. Their concerts are always a special experience due to their humorous interrelationships between the songs and the desired contact with the audience. Her current CD does not have to hide behind the successes especially in the 70s - rather it shows her great potential as a songwriter, which she did not lose after the creative crisis at the end of the 90s. The song "I tried to die young" on her last CD gives an idea of the difficulties she went through, even though Melanie herself says that she wrote this song for a New York publicist who always wanted to know everything exactly.
For the past 15 years, Melanie has been on stage with the active support of your son, and as a producer and supporter in life alongside his mother, often heard and seen on stages around the world. In the USA, the Netherlands, England, Germany and Australia, she captivated fans on stage.
With the support of your son, she also moved her activities into the digital world of the Internet, whether through new websites, YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram account, or through digital publishing of new CDs or remastered old masterpieces. The Bandcamp platform has become an important support. This is where your activities have been bundled.
But there were also new real CD's to buy at the concerts or online. Over the past 11 years, Melanie has mastered the time after the death of her husband Peter Schekeryk with the support of all the children.
Beau-Jarred has already released his own CD and concentrates his work on the concerts with his mother and the production of old and new music by Melanie.
Melanie's daughters Leilah and Jeordie are also active musicians and have already released their own CDs. Melanie died on January 24, 2024 at the age of 76.
Author: Michael Friede (c) 2024

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