Melissa O’ Neil’s self-titled debut is a melodic representation of her magnetic, fun loving spirit. With booming back-beats, catchy lyrics, powerhouse vocals and danceable hooks, it embodies everything that makes Melissa’s personality unique. Melissa is ready to seize musical stardom in Canada and is sure to make the journey a fun and interesting one for all her fans.
Blessed with keen intelligence, stunning good looks and a genuine zest for life, 17 year old Melissa O'Neil could have chosen any number of career paths. Music had always been a part of her life. Listening to her mother’s favourite Jazz musicians (Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday) was commonplace in her home and Melissa was known to belt out Broadway Musical Show-tunes, in the shower. But two years ago, while at a family Christmas party, Melissa sang a carol and silenced the room with her voice, setting her on the path to becoming Canada’s ‘First Female Canadian Idol.’ “My parents’ jaws literally dropped – they couldn’t believe that was my voice.”
from the shower to the Show
Her parents encouraged her to get involved in school choir and musical theatre and her success further fueled her musical fires. Melissa worked music into her already full extra-curricular activities. She was an avid sports enthusiast, playing on her high school Basketball and Rugby teams and worked after school at a daycare centre at a local health club in her hometown of Calgary, Alberta. She values family and education above all else and credits her teachers with inspiring and demanding greatness within. "I have been fortunate enough to have awesome experiences with my teachers. They have all been so supportive and helped me grow as both a singer and a performer.”
So when the chance to try out for Canadian Idol came up, she thought, “why not?” Melissa had just finished school basketball practice when her father picked her up and asked her if she was interested in trying out for Idol. Melissa’s conviction and knock-out performances carried her through the elimination rounds, but the passion for the shot at stardom didn’t hit home for Melissa until the Top 4. "The moment I heard the single “Alive,” I knew I had to be the one to record it.”
strength from family
After winning Canadian Idol, Melissa moved herself to Toronto to begin recording her debut. The move to strike out on her own could have been daunting, but Melissa gains immense strength from her family. “My mother is from Hong Kong and my father is Canadian and I think my experiences growing up in a bi-racial family have helped me to develop a strong sense of self.” Melissa knows who she is, what she wants and where she is going.
She brought that determination to the writing and recording process. Asked to describe the record, Melissa offers, "The music and the lyrics really put you into a zone. When the Producers and I began recording the CD, we knew the pop/rock infusion would move people. We wanted to create a record with a little bit of everything for all the fans.”
Melissa worked on material from talented Writers and Producers with credits on albums from a diverse and impressive group of Artists including: The Backstreet Boys, Keshia Chanté, Kalan Porter, Edwin, Prozzak, Andree Waters, Amanda Marshall and Esthero.
"Alive" strikes a chord with a wide audience
The proof can be heard in Melissa's single, "Alive." The single has managed to strike a chord with such a wide audience that it is charting at three different formats on radio (CHR/Pop, Hot AC and AC.) The single was co-written by Lindy Robbins, Jess Cates (both of whom have writing credits on the current Backstreet Boys album) and Rob Wells (writer/producer of Kalan Porter’s 2x Platinum selling debut 219 Days) and is already over 4X Platinum and remained Number 1 on the ‘Top Single Sales Charts’ for over 4 weeks. “Alive” is fueled by an uplifting message about embracing life and accepting the challenges in front of you and is propelled by Melissa's rock steady vocals.
Asked if there were any Musicians that influenced her style, Melissa defiantly answers No. “Honestly I didn’t really draw on any influences to find my style. I really just value people being themselves and finding their own way. I want people to one day turn on the radio and know that’s me singing – that they can recognize my unique vocals and beats.”
Nowhere is this more evident than on the track “Original Girl” – a song which strikes a major chord with Melissa and as she explains, most of the teenagers she knows. “There is so much pressure in magazines and on TV to be a certain way, look a certain way. Forget about it, get out there, do your own thing, be original – that’s the key to standing out and achieving. Have confidence in who you are on the inside, and it will show on the outside.”
Melissa even got to explore her song writing ability and co-wrote “Safe Place To Hide.” “I wrote the song for my brother – a message to him, of love and support (“I’d fly through the night to get back to your side, I’ll be your safe place to hide.”) I purposefully recorded it acoustically, just me and a piano, because I wanted the message to be the focus. Sometimes you just need to know that someone is looking out for you and supporting you and I know there will be meaning in this song for a lot of people.”
But lyrical messages are not all Melissa hopes to put forward on her debut. “I want people to go crazy & dance when they hear my songs!” You can hear the hard-edged beats and booming drums on “Let It Go,” the second single, a sure fire pop hit. “Forget About It” takes the listener on a musical journey while pounding the lyrics home with solid guitar riffs and an infectious melody. In “Speechless,” Melissa describes the struggles of love over lush acoustic guitars an epic chorus and a sweeping string section.
a final thought
It's clear that passion is something Melissa O'Neil radiates. You can hear the enthusiasm which has led her towards this exciting moment in her life and which is so very apparent in her music. Now, she's getting the chance to live her dreams and bring her talent to the world. When asked for a final thought on what she hopes the fans will take away from the album, she thoughtfully answers, “I’ve never experienced such support from people who were essentially strangers to me – these fans just stand up and get behind you. I hope that my music gives my fans a true reflection of who I am and shows them, that if you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything.”