STILL PEACHY – Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.?STILL PEACHY – Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF. ... 'I Got Love.' It was at Buddah ... STILL PEACHY

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  • STILL PEACHY Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.

    Written by Charles WaringThursday, 16 February 2012 21:34 -

    There was a time when MELBA MOORE was a frequent visitor to the charts on both sides ofthe Atlantic. She enjoyed five UK chart entries between 1976 and 1983, breaking into the BritishTop 10 with the rousing Van McCoy-penned dance anthem, 'This Is It.' But it was in her nativeAmerica where she experienced most success, racking up an astonishing thirty two hits onBillboard's R&B chart during a fertile fifteen-year period spanning the years 1975-1990.

    Blessed with a supple multi-octave voice and renowned for sustaining a single note for alung-bursting amount of time exemplified on her signature song, 1976's 'Lean On Me' or onthe 1986 R&B chart-topping ballad, 'Falling' Melba began her career as a background vocalist

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  • STILL PEACHY Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.

    Written by Charles WaringThursday, 16 February 2012 21:34 -

    before successfully auditioning for the stage musical 'Hair' in 1970. A stint in another Broadwayproduction, 'Purlie,' followed, for which she earned a prestigious Tony award. A year later, in1971, at the age of 26, she signed with Mercury Records and received a Grammy nominationfor her debut LP, 'I Got Love.'

    It was at Buddah Records in the mid-'70s that Melba began to accumulate hit records, her firstbeing the plaintive romantic ballad, 'I Am His Lady,' in 1975. A productive session with thelegendary soul music producer and songwriter, Van McCoy, in 1976 yielded two of Melba'smost enduring records 'This Is It' and 'Lean On Me.' A label switch to Epic in 1978 witnesseda US Top 20 smash with a soulful interpretation of the Bee Gees' 'You Stepped Into My Life.' In1981, Melba joined EMI America briefly a deal masterminded by her then husband, CharlesHuggins before switching to its parent company, Capitol, where she stayed until 1990. Thatphase of her recording career was the most productive in terms of commercial success and sawher scoring two Stateside number one records 'A Little Bit More,' a duet with Freddie Jackson,and the impassioned ballad, 'Falling.' In addition to that, infectious groove-based songs such as'Mind Up Tonight' and 'Love's Comin' At Ya' established her as the queen of early '80s dancefloor R&B.

    The 1990s witnessed Melba Moore drop off the soul radar as changing tastes in music and therecord industry's obsession with youth pushed mature performers into the background. Fastforward to 2012 and Melba Moore who returned to recording with 'Gift Of Love,' a duets albumwith Phil Perry in 2009 - is preparing a comeback. Not only is there a new solo album in thepipeline but she's also just announced that she's visiting the UK and will perform here for thefirst time ever (at London's Jazz Caf on April 29th).

    SJF's Charles Waring recently caught up with Melba, who talked excitedly about her newrecording venture as well as her keenly-anticipated trip to the UK and also looked back at keyevents in her long career...

    I can't believe that you've never performed in London before.

    Yes, this will be my debut performance - my first concert performance. I've done sometelevision promotions a very long time ago but I've never performed in concert there. Never.

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  • STILL PEACHY Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.

    Written by Charles WaringThursday, 16 February 2012 21:34 -

    What can we expect to hear from you in London?

    We'll be doing 'Standing Right Here,' 'Pick Me Up, I'll Dance,' 'This Is It,' 'Lean On Me,' 'Love IsComin' At Ya,' 'Mind Up Tonight'....

    You have a new single out.

    Yes, it's called 'Love Is'

    I believe it's taken from a new album you're working on.

    Well, it's brand new music, which very often veteran artists sometimes don't get a chance to do;the audience only want to hear the old things. So I think what's happened with my life and mycareer is that I've had to make a new start and one of the great things is that my old music isbeing re-released and re-remembered both here (in the States) and in the UK. So it kind ofbrings everybody up to where I am now and I think it also allows me to show you what I looklike, who I am now and what I sound like now. So it gives me an opportunity to do new musicwhich means the challenge for me is to be my age and be age-appropriate - but also becontemporary and relevant.

    I've been working with a producer called Terry Silverlight and two other producers and they'vegot good, solid, R&B songs with good stories that are simple and positive but realistic. I like toinspire people so sometimes I might do that with a lot of yelling and screaming and riffing andhigh notes but you've got to have something to scream about so I'm looking for songs that havemeanings. I'm a grown-up, I'm an adult, I'm mature now so I can't sing fluffy things. They don'thave to be grim and serious but they do have to be sensitive.

    When's the album likely to come out?

    Definitely before the end of this year. I'm going into the studio with the next bunch of songs on

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  • STILL PEACHY Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.

    Written by Charles WaringThursday, 16 February 2012 21:34 -

    the 23rd of this month (February) and then from there we're going to set time aside and just stayin the studio until it's finished. I don't think it will take me more than two or three months ofsteady work to finish actually recording it and then, of course, mix it.

    Going back right beginning, at what age did you first show an interest in music?

    Probably when I was too young to know! I probably knew I had a normal singing voice far as Ican tell at about five or six years old. My mother was a single parent. She was a professionalsinger. She married my stepdad, who is still living. He's 95, but he's still a working musician. Hemade us - all of us, me and my sisters - take piano. I was nine at the time so I really gotimmersed in music from there on in to elementary school and junior high school. I was verysolidly musically inclined because music was the centre of our family because our mother anddaddy rehearsed with their live band in the house and we became very acquainted with some ofthe great artists during that time, like Sarah Vaughan and a lot of people that lived in NewJersey, which is a spawning ground for great musicians still. Then I went to art music highschool and majored in vocal music and then I majored in music in college. So I think musicreally knocked me over the head around the time I got to go to high school because I had todecide what I was really going to focus on and that's when I decided I would like to - even if Ireally didn't have the talent to be a star - be in the arts.

    So how did you get into the record industry?

    I taught music education in public schools for about a year and a half. I was very good at it but Iworked on trying to be a performer. My dad took me around to some of his agents in New Yorkand one of them took me on and I met Valerie Simpson, and she was there in some musicpublisher's office trying to get signed for songwriting. But she was also a great jingle singer, awriter and a backup singer. She brought me into the industry. She was just another singer then.That's how I got into recording music. I started as a backup singer. But my first Broadway showcame from that too. My first Broadway show was 'Hair.'

    How did that come about?

    It was a recording session. We were invited to do backups on Galt McDermott's performance ofthe music from 'Hair,' because he wrote the music for it. It primarily featured backup vocals and

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  • STILL PEACHY Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.

    Written by Charles WaringThursday, 16 February 2012 21:34 -

    I was part of a bunch of people that were hired for that and when we finished the date, theyinvited everybody who was on the recording session to go audition for them for the play thatwas coming to Broadway. I auditioned for it and got into it. I didn't know anything aboutBroadway or theatre.

    I read somewhere that you replaced Diane Keaton in 'Hair'. Is that right?

    Yes, she was the original Sheila, but when she left I replaced her. So I wound up with thefemale lead actually and was the first black actress to replace a white actress in a lead rolewhen Diane left.

    You won a Tony award for your role in the musical 'Purlie.' How did it feel winning anaward so early on in your career?

    Kind of numb. I have tapes of the Tony award performance because I don't really remember it. Iwas too scared. It was, to say the least, exciting, and I really have no idea what I said. Iremember certain parts of it like looking down into the audience and seeing people like LaurenBacall and Pearl Bailey. I have flashes of those but I can't remember most of the programme. Itwas too numbing and I was too excited.

    Did your deal with Mercury Records come from your success on stage?

    Yes, actually Mercury Records came to me while I was still in 'Purlie.'

    What are your memories of those Mercury days?

    I just remember there was so much going on because I rehearsed and recorded the musicduring the break between the matinee and the evening show. There was so much going on. Idon't know how I did it all. It's like everything just exploded all at once and you have to say, yes,'cos that's when it happens; I knew that from my parents being in the industry, that when it

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  • STILL PEACHY Veteran soul diva Melba Moore talks to SJF.

    Written by Charles WaringThursday, 16 February 2012 21:34 -

    comes just brace yourself, try to calm down and do as much as you can.

    So your parents didn't mind you being in the music business?