The story of Melissa Raye is so surreal that it’s almost unbelievable. Melissa was raised in a typical Queens, NY home and her vocal talent and passion for performing were apparent to her family at a very young age. As early as 2 – 3 years old she was putting on shows for those around her. By the time she reached 6th grade she was taking part in a school performance, which happened to be a Disney production – Melissa’s favorite! Although she was bursting with joy to take part in this, due to her shyness she was quietly positioned in the back during try outs. Suddenly her teacher asked her to sing “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. Melissa obliged and what came out of this mild mannered girl had the teacher staring in utter disbelief. Other staff members began running into the room to see where this beautiful sound was coming from. Her amazing vocal skills secured her the show solo. “I don’t know how I did it! It was surreal for me to perform in front of all of those people. I believe this was a pivotal moment in my life where I realized music was my calling” recalls Melissa.
Never one to be seen as the popular girl, she started getting noticed and taking lead roles in other productions throughout her earlier school years. This paved the way for Melissa to enter the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts in New York, which was founded by Tony Bennett, to honor an idol. Her time there was well spent honing her craft to absolute perfection. During her senior year she was on stage singing “Joyful, Joyful” when a man in the audience was clearly mesmerized by what he was hearing – inching further forward onto the edge of his seat. When she had finished singing the man approached her and said “My gosh! You have such a talent! Don’t EVER stop!” Melissa was speechless, but thanked him immediately. According to Melissa that was none other than Tony Bennett. “I knew right away who he was. He would occasionally walk the school halls. I was flattered, to say the least.”
“I always felt musically inclined and I believe a large part of my love of music came from my parents. My father listened to the oldies while I was growing up – Sinatra, The Beatles, Janis Joplin, Dean Martin, The Rolling Stones – all of the great classics. Our radio was always tuned to the oldies station because we weren’t allowed to change it!” quips Melissa. As much as that may have been frustrating back then, it was a very good thing in retrospect. The solid foundation and utter appreciation for music as an art form in its many different varieties was built early on, thanks to her home life. She now considers Janis Joplin, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera & Adele to be her biggest influences on her musical style.
After High School Melissa entered a contest in which the winner would meet Jennifer Hudson and be on television. Being the winning entry was a long shot in terms of numerical statistics, but certainly not unlikely if they actually get to her entry. Unfortunately her mother had recently been hospitalized and had just returned home to recuperate at about the same time the entries had to be turned in. Thankfully Melissa’s mom was able to help her by recording the video she needed to submit and her aunt & uncle were happy to pick up the slack and help her with the rest. A couple of days later the Today Show called to offer a spot in the contest. Only there was one catch, she had to sing to them right there on the phone, to be sure they had the right person! They didn’t believe the person on the phone was Melissa because she’s so soft spoken. Clearly they were impressed. The following day a limousine whisked Melissa away and off to the studio for hair & makeup and casual conversation in the green room with Jennifer Hudson, Kathy Lee and even a few talent scouts who approached after hearing her perform. “I realized then that I wanted my life to be like this every day… to be heard by people who are clearly interested. It’s nice and something I could definitely get used to.” One highlight along the way for Melissa was being invited to TV Personality & Comedienne Sherri Shepherd’s birthday party. There she met May Pang, a long time presence in the music industry with intimate ties to John Lennon. May is a bit of a legend and especially to Melissa who was raised on The Beatles.
Since then Melissa has been in and out of the studio and performing at live events. Her new single will be out in early Summer 2016. She’s thrilled to be able to bring what she loves to the public – soulful, heartfelt music!