5 Questions is a series by Steve Duffy –
Melissa Manchester’s career is remarkable not only for its longevity and accomplishments, but for its versatility. Following her stint as a founding member of Bette Midler’s Harlettes, Manchester’s tremendously successful solo career brought her critical and commercial acclaim. She has recorded twenty-one albums across her career, releasing her most recent album, The Fellas, on September 8th 2017.
SD: How did the idea for this new album “The Fellas” begin?
MM: In 1989, I recorded a tribute album to several iconic women singers and really wanted to do a follow-up album paying tribute to the great male singers. Dean Bob Slack of Citrus, a performing arts college, asked me to come up with a project that I could incorporate the school’s orchestra, I knew I had to finish this idea. It was a complete gift that just fell in my lap.
SD: What was involved in the process of selecting songs for this album?
MM: I selected the artists that helped shaped my childhood. It was their music that I listened to around the dining table with my family. The eight artists I choose really celebrate those moments of my life. This album really created a balance and a story for me.
SD: How is this album different from anything that you have done in the past?
MM: I have never done a big band album before. It was a gigantic and exhilarating undertaking. We recorded it in less than 2 weeks. It was a thrilling experience to watch these students in the orchestra get thrown into the deep end of the pool and become successful. More than recording the songs, I loved seeing the light in the eyes of these students as they were being a part of this great adventure.
SD: You were one of Bette Midler’s original Harlettes. How was the experience for you?
MM: Bette was a game changer in the music industry. She is a brilliant woman. I loved how she always welcomed the gay community into a safe community. For her, it was very important and I admire her for that. New York City was remarkable time in the early 70’s. It was the best place to be for a struggling artist in music and theatre.
SD: What an amazing career you have had. What has been most memorable for you?
MM: Being able to shape a career that has endured for nearly 5 decades is truly amazing. It’s also really thought provoking, because as an artist, I don’t know how you can make a life living your life. It has been deeply interesting and challenging life.
For more information about Melissa and to purchase her new CD “The Fellas”, visit www.melissamanchester.com