Melissa James brings a soulful touch to her work as a jazz singer. A native of London, she was surrounded by the Caribbean rhythms on the records her West Indian father played throughout her childhood. This early exposure to calypso, soca, and reggae mingled with the Christian hymns he would sing. Her sisters were the ones that have the gift of soul. Marvin Gaye, Roberta Flack, Percy Sledge and Anita Baker were in the rotation as the girls did their chores.
In absorbing these early influences, she brought her past with her as she began her own musical journey. In her college years she discovered Joni Mitchell, then finally jazz. Moving to Paris, she finally took the plunge and focused on her career. She took guitar lessons, performing with her teacher and others around the city for two years before returning home. Eventually she found a partner and began writing her own songs.
Her debut album, Day Dawns was released in 2012 and earned much acclaim. Maverick Magazine touted noting her vocals "are sensitive, soulful and emotional and the musical arrangements totally sublime," adding "highly recommended." JazzWise enthusiastically endorsed the record, writing "This magnificent debut album from singer-songwriter Melissa James announces not just the arrival of a remarkable new voice, but a writing partnership which has really taken flight."
Since her debut, Melissa continues to perform and write songs, but another project has also taken hold. Since releasing the follow-up recording Stripped Back, the song "Live Again" took on a life of its own, leading Melissa to contact the charity group Sane and begin a series of concerts promoting mental wellness. Featuring "big sing" live events with a group of other singers, the overwhelming positive feedback from these shows and connection with her fans has confirmed her own contention: the healing power of music is incredible.