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Singer-songwriter Melanie: ‘Woodstock was unbelievably frightening’ – The Guardian

Melanie remembers the day she busked in London well. The year was 1983 and the concert she was to play had been cancelled due to unsatisfactory ticket sales. So she was sitting with friends, drinking Pimm’s, when someone called to tell her that fans had congregated outside the Royal Albert Hall. “I thought, I’m just going to grab my guitar and go over there and sing,” she tells me by phone from her home in Tennessee. And so she did. The police arrived to move her on – and shortly thereafter, the headlines spun.

I thought, I can’t do this. I don’t have any hits, nobody knows who I am. I even brought my mom!

“It wasn’t a press stunt, I was just doing what instinctively occurred to me,” says the 74-year-old once lazily hailed as the female Bob Dylan. It’s a philosophy that helped her defy her critics, as she tried to ignore the labels the business applied to her: winsome folk singer, flower child with an edge. “I had a guitar, I had long hair, so I must be a folk singer,” she jokes. Instead, her music is a beguiling mix of earthy folk, mournful blues and rhapsodic pop belted out with a soulful voice; equal parts naive and knowing, she sings with a gravelly rasp that seems to lasso your body.

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of her kaleidoscopic classic 1971 album Gather Me. Born Melanie Safka, she was raised in Queens, New York, and her vagabond journey as a musician began in Greenwich Village in the late 1960s. Only a few years later, she was helicoptered on to the stage at Woodstock festival where she was, in her own words, “an industry buzz” without a clue. “It was an unbelievably frightening day,” she says. “I just thought it was a weekend of singing. I pictured families with picnic blankets, and arts and crafts. I had no idea! I walked into the lobby and there was Janis Joplin.” Aged 22, Melanie had never seen a famous person before. “I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t have any hit records, nobody knows who I am.’ I had no musicians with me, no roadie – I even brought my mom!”

There is an endearing innocence to Melanie, even now, alongside a mellow acceptance of the many twists and turns in her career. But there is also an astute perception that, despite her complexities, she was often misunderstood as an artist, regularly made to feel like “a piece of Woodstock fluff” in the press. It’s not clear how much she has let this go.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2021/dec/14/singer-songwriter-melanie-woodstock-was-unbelievably-frightening

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Bringing music to the masses… on a tram – BBC

French pianists, Hervé Billaut and Guillaume Coppola, brought a piano on to a tram in Nantes, as part of the opening of the annual La Folle Journée classical music festival.

They played to passengers all afternoon on Wednesday.

Mr Billaut said that they wanted to bring music to places you don’t expect it: “Perhaps someone, a child, a young person or a pensioner will have a musical shock.”

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