original songs that sound like standards in the making (Chris Parker)
Melissa writes a lot of her own material, but still loves going back to the old standards; that's where she learned her craft.
She was born in Manchester, UK, in 1972 to a Singaporean-Chinese mother and an English father. Her formal piano training began at the age of 6 and after constant nagging by her mum to practise her scales, she went on to pass her Grade 8 examination (Associated Board of Royal Schools of Music) when she was 18, but it was in the years prior to this that her informal ear training started, thanks to her father, a church organist and jazz pianist. Melissa hummed harmonies to just about everything she heard and later, after her younger sister was born, they would sing in three-part harmony just about everywhere, including, rather annoyingly, at the dinner table.
During her school years, spent in UK and Singapore, Melissa played the cello and the Welsh folk harp, encouraged by her music teacher Lorna Wareham, who was kind enough to give her one-to-one tuition in harmony, counterpoint and composition, even during the difficult teenage angst years. Melissa also took part in various choral activities and earned a role in the school's previously all-male 'Barbershop choir' as, erm, a tenor. Melissa continued to be active in the musical environment during her years at Kent University, and after a period of time spent in London and in Scandinavia, touring as an actress with a theatre-in-education company, Melissa decided to move to Italy and there slipped into the jazz scene.
" A lot of the tunes were familiar from musicals I'd done…it was all very informal and relaxed," she recalls,"and I finally felt that I'd found my music…" Her first ever jazz record was of Ella Fitzgerald with Ellis Larkin at the piano and her early jazz education came from recordings of Bill Evans, Clifford Brown, Fats Navarro, Red Garland and Billie Holiday, among others.
Melissa has studied with Barry Harris, Stjepko Gut, Dennis Jeter, LaVerne Jackson, Andy Farber and Vince Benedetti, and continues to assimilate from the talented musicians with whom she plays.
Melissa has played with many musicians on the international scene, including American pianist and composer Greg Burk's trio with New York bassist Jon Robinson and Gerald Cleaver on drums. She has also played with British drummer Dave Ohm, Slovenian drummer Aljosa Jeric and many creative and talented Italian musicians, including Nico Menci, Pietro Ciancaglini, Antonio Ciacca, Danilo Gallo, Alessandro Minetto, Paolo Benedettini, Nicola Muresu, Giancarlo Bianchetti, and Davide Brillante and Max Chirico, who are part of Melissa's Trio project. She has participated in several festivals: Sant'Elpidio Jazz Festival, Cork Guinness Jazz Festival, Toscana Jazz, Livorno Jazz, Magra Jazz, Rassegna Moovi, Appennino Music Festival, Seravezza Jazz, Zola Jazz and Wine, Lemon '900, Il Salotto del Jazz, and many more.
Melissa is also a dancer, and is kept very busy coaching students in ballet, classical piano and harmony, jazz singing and choral singing...(see teaching)
She is currently living in Italy.