Talent is innate, but what’s rare is the courage to follow it into uncharted territory. Soul-pop singer-songwriter, Melany Watson, was gifted with vocal prowess and a lineage of country music passed onto her from her Texas upbringing, but had the audacity to set out on her own path. Now, she issues her first release of this self-defined era, the aptly titled, Lilith in Virgo. The EP will be preceded by the single and accompanying video, “Illuminate.”
“This whole project is me coming out of my shell and being true to myself and my heart,” says the New York City-based artist. “For me, the title has a lot of meaning. I am a Virgo, and Virgos can be standoffish and conservative. Lilith is a strong mythological character that makes things happen. So the title, for me, symbolizes breaking out of my shell.”
Melany’s smoldering emotionality as a singer and songwriter has garnered her favorable comparisons to Etta James, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey. Her country music upbringing informs her storyteller lyricism, as does her affinity for modern classic singer-songwriter icons like Carole King.
Melany’s artistry has merited her many accolades and milestone accomplishments for a young artist. Major highlights include performing at "Christmas at Belmont" with Trisha Yearwood on PBS National Television, while an undergrad at esteemed music educational institution Belmont University, and being hand picked and flown out to NYC America to become a Top 100 Finalist on NBC’s Season 6 of The Voice. Recently, she's been had the distinguished honor to perform on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon singing background vocals for YouTube pop star sensation Tori Kelly. Currently, she’s a staff vocalist for Vamnation.
Moreover, her striking image has earned her a contract as a professional plus-size model with NYC TRUE Model Management. But the bedrock of her artistry is her songwriting, and Melany is represented by the exclusive performing rights organization SEASAC. This summer, she was awarded the highly coveted Abe Olman Scholarship: an award presented by the Songwriters Hall of Fame to young, up-and-coming songwriters for their excellence in songwriting. Melany joins highly respected previous winners such as John Legend, Comic Heroes, Nenna Yvonne and Keli Price. Melany’s songwriting has also been praised in the tastemaking publication, American Songwriter with a plum “Daily Discovery” feature.
Melany’s career began with her performing in school choirs and alongside her mother on the southeast Texas Opry circuit in the mother and daughter duo "Melva Lee and Melany.” The beginning of her artistic self-discovery was the Bodyguard soundtrack. Whitney Houston, and other 1990s R&B vocalists, opened up a new world of expression with their vocal melisma and simmering soulfulness. At the age of 12, she sang Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” at a local karaoke bar had an epiphany—this was the music she was meant to devote her life to. Shortly after that defining moment, made her way to Las Vegas to perform in the pre-teen Star Mania finals. During a high school trip, she first came to Manhattan and quickly realized the city’s pulse vibed with her own inner rhythms.
“I had seen the VH1 Divas Live and I instantly fell in love with New York,” Melany confides. “When I first visited as a high school freshman, I felt this electricity. I felt like I could do anything here.” In 2012, she moved to New York City permanently and has since become a fixture within the city’s widely recognized singer-songwriter circuit, performing at its most respected venues.
“I am proud to be from Texas,” Melany says. “There is a certain Texas swagger that comes through in my stage presence, and I also I think country songwriters are the best storytellers in the world and that history has definitely influenced my writing style.”
Lilith In Virgo is an epiphanic release for Melany in that it organically synthesizes her foundation of 1990s R&B and country music lyrics, culminating in a refreshingly individual aesthetic.
As a sharp artistic conceptualist and highly accomplished musician, Melany envisioned the textured sensual production treatment on the EP. Her vision, along with producer Russ Bridgeman’s studio chops, helped realize a captivating mix of modern classic soul with the added ambience of EDM for a production sound some have called “soul tronica.”
Unlike, many electronic informed artists, Melany’s songcraft transcends her production style. Not only did she write and co-write all her songs, but each one stands alone performed barebones, on acoustic guitar or piano. Thematically, the album covers love and self-empowerment, and there is a relationship arc tucked in the tracks. Two fascinating bookends in this narrative are the slow burn D’Angelo-esque tracks “Easy Love” and “Bittersweet,” co-written with Mark Palmer and Andrea White of the acclaimed modern soul group The Hipstones. “’Easy Love’ is about being in a difficult relationship and realizing it shouldn’t be so hard, there shouldn’t be so much drama. When you find the right person, love should be easy,” she reveals. “’Bittersweet’ is about letting go of that painful relationship.” The invigorating soul-pop and heart-rattling emotiveness of the EP leadoff single, “Illuminate,” is a searching song about what it means to be a soulmate. Lilith In Virgo is an no filler release, and the remaining tracks “Flash” and “Lottery” offer R&B-pop euphoria with a dash of 1990s Whitney Houston uplift.
When asked what she wants listeners to take away from experiencing her music, Melany doesn’t hesitate to say: “I want my music to be a refuge for people, a place to inspire people to be true to themselves because that’s what this music is for me. It’s been like medicine for my soul.”