Melanie Fiona: Bridging the Next Generation of Musicians
On April 5, 2011, SRC/Title 9/Universal Motown signed R&B soul singer Melanie Fiona, co-managed by Roc Nation, performed at Irving Plaza in New York City for the BET Music Matters concert. She invited girls from the Women's Excellence Academy in the Bronx, and students from the Music Unites and Young Audiences of New York Youth Choir—made up of students from all over NYC—to come listen to her sound check. Through her outreach, Fiona wanted to inspire and empower the next generation of young musicians by giving them a chance to listen to her live and meet with her before the show!
Fiona was recently selected as a Women's Empowerment ambassador for the NYC-based non-profit Music Unites, an organization that provides music education programs and opportunities to students in inner-city schools. In addition, Fiona has established her own charitable organization called The Purple Heart Foundation; it focuses on raising awareness of and promoting strength and courage for women.
Fiona's debut album, The Bridge was released in the summer of 2009." It earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding New Artist. Her debut single "Give It to Me Right" peaked at number 20 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart and number 41 on the UK Singles Chart. Fiona's second single, "It Kills Me," was her breakout song on the Billboard Hot 100, placed as one of the top 50 there, and earned her a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. To top it off, Fiona toured with Kanye West during his "Glow in the Dark" tour and also opened for Alicia Keys during "The Freedom Tour" in 2010.
Teen Voices' Michelle Golden had the chance to quickly interview the inspirational soul queen before her sound check." " When Michelle asked some of the girls present what they thought of Fiona's music, one student said, "I like the fact that Melanie Fiona's music is soulful and has a mix of an old school and new sound to it. She really has a fresh new voice."
One of Teen Voices' music reviewers, Hanna Thieme, aged 16 from Massachusetts, had this to say about Melanie Fiona:
Melanie Fiona strikes me as an extremely different figure from many mainstream artists." " She sings not about sex and drugs, but of relationships and empowerment. She shows how women can be strong in relationships and have the upper hand, as demonstrated in Bang Bang, " where she takes power over her man. In It Kills Me, Melanie Fiona shows a softer side of herself, demonstrating that women can admit to themselves that troubles in relationships don't always have to be dealt with aggressiveness, but with expressing their concerns. I especially like how Melanie Fiona is not a sex symbol. She focuses on her messages to girls and her beautiful voice. She is truly a role model, reminding girls that their best way to live is to be themselves.
Read more to find out about this empowering singer's role models and how she hopes to inspire other teen girls to follow their hearts and listen to their own voices!
What's the most challenging aspect of being involved in the music industry?
The most challenging thing is breaking through, really. It is being your own self, being an individual, and hoping that that translates to people and that they understand it, they feel it, and want to support it on radio, on television, and all media outlets. It's really difficult." Exposure is everything, so getting out there, grinding it out, and showing the world what you've got and what you're made of is definitely a struggle. But those who persist and stick at itthey usually win.
Who was your number one role model and who has been your role model through it all?
I'm fortunate enough to have two amazing women that are in my life. I've got my mom who I believe is responsible for everything that is fundamentally inside of me--as well as what I look like because I look just like her! And I also have my manager and executive producer at the production company—her name is Carmen—and she has been a mega inspiration to me because she is a mother, she's a wife, she's a business woman, she's beautiful, she's intelligent, and she's successful. And as a young woman, that is the motto that I'm trying to mirror myself after--[it's about] being successful, being happy, having it all one day, having a family, and being able to do everything. Career-wise, I really admire people like Alicia Keys who have been themselves, maintained their respect, and have a super successful career.
How do you see yourself being a role model for other girls?
I would like to think that I'm a good person and that my mom raised me strictly enough that I don't get into too much trouble and that keeps me in line! But truthfully, for me, I think my stance as a female artist is to show young girls and show other female artists that you don't have to do what everyone else is doing. You don't have to sing about the things that aren't real to you because that is not your story. It is so important to be comfortable with who you are and maintain your personal respect. Personally, I think that success and confidence is best from within. How intelligent are you? What do you know? What do you have to offer? What do you have to say? Do you have respect for yourself? Throughout my journey, I've encountered many people who tried to make me more of a sex symbol or objectify me in the music industry. I just didn't want to do that. I prefer to just stand alone on my talent and if people think I'm pretty or attractive outside of that, then yes, that's cool. But the first thing that I always want people to say about me is: "Wow, Melanie Fiona is talented and she can sing and she is intelligent." And that's what I want young girls to know:" It's okay to be all of these things. You don't have to dim any lights inside of you just to please someone else.
NOTE: Thanks to" "Photographer Gene Bradley" for generously sharing his photographs of Melanie with us.
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