The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”…so wrote Lao Tzu. I have lived that very statement this past year as I began the journey of recording a new jazz CD after a hiatus of 13 years. Why now? Well, it all began one day in the assisted living facility that my Mom was residing.
My 93 year old mother had suffered a series of strokes and was having a lot of trouble communicating. I had seen a video on YouTube documenting the progress of an elderly man who was for all intents and purposes catatonic until the nurse that was caring for him decided to give him a walkman with headphones so that he could listen to some of the music he was familiar with and loved from his youth. As he listened day after day to Cab Calloway, he eventually started to talk and carry on a conversation with his aide…something he hadn’t done in months! After witnessing this transformation, I decided to test it out on my own Mother. I brought her a CD player with headphones and some of her favorite music to listen to – Sinatra, Streisand and others. Every time I visited, I made sure she listened to the CDs and also instructed her aides to do the same.
One particular day when I visited she was having a terrible time trying to form a sentence. She was completely distraught and frustrated, as I was for her. Once again I placed her headphones on and started her favorite Sinatra CD hoping for a miracle. We sat together for quite a while as she smiled and listened. Just as I was about to leave her for the evening, miraculously she started to sing along with one particular song. I was stunned that this woman who couldn’t put two words together in a sentence that day was now singing complete phrases along with the recording.
I later discovered that the song was a lesser known standard that was actually written as well as sung by Frank Sinatra called ‘This Love of Mine.’ After Mom passed away, I was so moved by the incident at the nursing home that I decided to create a tribute to her and the many other significant loves in my life through the years and title it “This Love of Mine”.
I experienced a tremendous amount of loss in the last 3 years. My 16 year marriage to a wonderful woman ended, my dear friend and musical soul mate George Mesterhazy passed away suddenly at 58 years old and finally my Mother succumbed to old age and a failing heart. What better way to channel that grief and heartache than to turn to what has always given me solice…music and singing.
I began recording in March with a trio of stellar musicians…Dean Schneider on piano, Tim Lekan on upright bass and Bob Shomo on drums. What started as a small quartet recording soon evolved into a fully orchestrated collection of gorgeous jazz and pop standards that has the feel and sound of Barbra Streisand meets Diana Krall. The culmination of our collective efforts was a CD release party and concert at Resorts Hotel Casino in Atlantic City on November 3rd, a full circle moment to say the least. Surrounded by family and friends, I was able to reveal and share the labors of our love via the music that has become the beautiful reflection of the many loves of my life…an incredible journey that began with one tiny miracle and led to the adventure of a lifetime. This love of mine goes on and on….Melanie
Ed Note: I love this music! Melanie is incredibly talented…Listen below. Get her new CD just in time for the holidays!
Melanie Rice grew up in Hammonton, NJ. A small town girl with big dreams, Melanie began her musical journey at a young age joining the school band where she became proficient on saxophone and trombone. At fourteen, her musical aspirations evolved into singing with local bands. With an instrumental background, an innate talent for improvisational scatting and an admiration for such legends as Ella Fitzgerald and Barbara Streisand, she grew into the shoes of a contemporary/jazz vocalist with grace and ease. In addition to performing live, she continued her studies, earning a B.A. in music from Rowan College and the University of Delaware.