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THE REINVENTION OF THE MUSICAL WHEEL While financing and producing her own album would have been a totally foreign concept to the Melissa Manchester of the 1970s and ‘80s, it is just a part of the ever-evolving world of today’s music business. “Today, the landscape in the music industry is largely unrecognizable for those of us who have been around awhile,” she says. “That is due to the democratization of music and how it is distributed. That’s fine, but it has brought with it a dilution of the way people listen to and purchase music. Today, I am my record label. I do everything that the big record companies once did. Like so many artists, I just couldn’t take working with the major record companies any longer. They end up owning all of your work and, unlike the trade out that once existed, in which they at least knew how to promote and distribute an album, they have no idea of how to operate in today’s world. The big companies lagged and lagged and thought the digital world would just be a phase. They really never have got on board with the realization that it’s a new world. The music business is in the midst of an industrial revolution and the wheel has been, and is, being reinvented;

single, “Feelin’ For You.” “Making this album was a constantly unfolding and unbelievable adventure,” says Manchester. “It is a combination of everything I’ve learned, everything I know, things that I didn’t know. It could have never shown up before it did, and there’s a story behind every song.” Asked if there is any particular story she may like to share about one of her new songs, Manchester says the album’s single was inspired by something that happened while she was in the Mississippi Delta doing research for a project. “One night I went to a juke joint – a place you go to listen to music and get trashed,” she says with a smile. “I was sitting there minding my own business, when this guy came weaving his way towards me. It was very dark and he was very drunk and looked like he was seeing three of me and trying to figure out which one was the best looking. Then he asked me if I was married. I said that I was and he looked rather disappointed and said: ‘Oh, that’s too bad ‘cause I got a feelin’ for you.’ Right away, just from the way he said that, I knew it was a song.” Sill maintaining a heavy touring schedule, Manchester says she has been thrilled with the reaction she has been getting on her new songs from audiences. “You just never know how new material will be received, because most people want to hear ‘Midnight Blue.’ But I’m pleased that the new songs have really been landing. This album, unlike anything else I’ve ever done, has made it so real to me that I really do love my life and what I do.”

Photob By Hayley Sparks

bridge generation. We lived in a world, not that long ago, without computers and cell phones and social media, when the pace of life was so different, when the way we got information was so different, when we just spent time outside playing. I tripped over adventures every day when I was growing up in New York. But today, life is so complicated and the world is so densely packed with distractions and regulations. My son has no recollection of being able to go up to the gate at an airport to great someone who was arriving. We are living in this cross-pollination of cultures and generations, and I don’t know where it is going to land, nor do I see a landing in sight. I just see waves upon waves of information inundating kids till they are numb to everything. There’s such a misplaced value on speed instead of content or context today.” And yet, while Manchester has concerns about today’s generation, she also believes they will work it out and prosper. “When I first started teaching, I thought I would teach my students, but the fact is, they have taught me,” she says. “My new album was financed by crowd-funding, which my students taught me about. One of my students was my project manager and other students were a part of the street team, and they were just amazing. There are a lot of smart kids out there who know a lot more than we ever knew. So they’ll work it out and maybe even show us how it all should be done. As Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote in ‘The King and I,’ ‘By our pupils we’ll be taught.’ ”

IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVING THE LIFE and I don’t know, as we continue on in this new world, if the wheel will even still be round. There are incredible people making music today and they are educated on the business portion of the journey. I was an artist who delegated the business end of making music to people who I thought had my back – some did, some didn’t. But I see young people out there today who are well-educated in contracts and royalties and distribution, and that’s fantastic.” While Manchester says the business of making music has changed dramatically, she reveals that, when it comes to the actual music, she still holds on to what she recognizes. “This month I’ll release my 20th album, and it represents so many levels for me,” she says. “The title, ‘You Gotta Love The Life,’ came out of a discussion I had with my daughter. I was explaining that the artist’s path is not just about sharing your gift, but in also embracing the unconventional version of normal that comes with a life of being an artist. You have to love always looking for the next dot to connect to keep fresh and going.”

Asked to share her thoughts on turning 64 this month, and if she has adopted any philosophy on aging, Manchester laughs. “My mother always said these aren’t the golden years, they’re the rusting years. So I try to live healthy and stay active. I am really conscience about eating right and drinking a lot of water.” As to her philosophy on getting older, she says it’s a convergence of many different philosophies. “Living well is the best revenge, the Golden Rule, to never lose the sense of wonder and enthusiasm that life offers. Those are the first things that come to mind. And, most importantly, to be grateful. For me, gratitude is a tower of strength and power. My gratitude list doesn’t start with the biggest things. I’m grateful for the smallest things – every new day and every breath that doesn’t hurt. When you harbor a gratefulness for things that are so easy to take for granted – when that gratitude gets into your body and your conscience and your life – it totally separates you from the magnified distractions of this world we live in. It is through gratitude that I remind myself every day that you really do gotta love the life.”

AN UNFOLDING AND UNBELIEVABLE ADVENTURE Her new release, recorded at Glendora, California’s Citrus College where Manchester is an honorary artist in residence, has her teamed up with legends of jazz and pop including Al Jarreau, Dionne Warwick, Dave Koz, Stevie Wonder and Keb’ Mo’, who joins her on the offering’s lead

For more information on Melissa Manchester, her tour schedule and her new album, “You Gotta Love The Life,” click on www.melissamanchester.com

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Profile for Life After 50

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