"Best current British blues singer I know." – The words of BBC 6 Music's Tom Robinson who has long given a nod of approval to the work of this singer-songwriter. Melissa James is, however, much more than a blues singer. She is a singer with incredible passion for her cause which, she sees, is to use her voice and her music to form connections with others. Her music blends folk, gospel, jazz – and life tales – but never without a large helping of the soul which stretches deep beyond her years.
Melissa's stories bring to the fore fragments taken from her own life as well as those lives and influences that have surrounded her. Which perhaps explains her growing fan base, built possibly on the connection her listeners feel to the lyrics of her songs, sensing the realness of the narratives and feeling that she is someone with a heart that has many a time been hurt and broken, re-gathered and that, on some level, having stared in the eyes of her own demons, she has an empathy for whatever situation someone might at that time be experiencing, or has in the past been through.
Melissa makes her shows as much about the delivery of her songs as they are about reaching out and making a connection with her audience. No finer example can demonstrate this than through the initiation of her latest project, SING4SANE which last summer saw her invite willing participants to join her at RAK Studios to sing and record her song, "Live Again," for the purpose of mental health awareness, and to build togetherness among like-minded individuals. This Big Sing recording - currently on release as a charity single - is also to be later released in a more simplified acoustic form on her forthcoming record, Stripped Back.
All this follows her 2012 debut record, Day Dawns, which affirmed Melissa's place on the musical map as, not only a singer with a voice that moves and continues to permeate the many who hear it but a poetical songsmith who walks in the shadow of her idols Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Eric Bibb and another very fine singer to whom she has been likened, Lizz Wright. There is always much more to be unearthed from Melissa James, however, and as she appears for the first time at Walpole Chapel for this special performance, prepare to be witness to just one element of what she has to give at this time.
“James takes all of her musical loves – jazz, blues, soul, folk –
and wraps them up into songs that achieve an astonishing array of moods and emotions.” - Jazzwise
“Melissa’s vocals are sensitive, soulful and emotional...” -Maverick
Group A is a vocal performance group for 8-18 year olds in Lowestoft. The group is run by Snape Maltings’ Learning and Inclusion Team and works with professional musicians to develop creative performances exploring a wide variety of music. Group A is unauditioned and free and always looking for new members. Recent performances have included Lowestoft Sixth Form College Showcase, Aldeburgh Carnival and the Christmas concert at Snape Maltings.