Melissa grew up in the small, Midwestern town of Kent, Ohio. She spent most of her early childhood playing Barbies and dress-up with her sisters, watching The Sound of Music on VHS, and daydreaming. Melissa made her performance debut in preschool when she produced, directed, and starred in her own production of Cinderella, which received rave reviews from her parents and four-year-old friends. Her first public appearance was several years later in second grade when she sang “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” at the Franklin Elementary School Christmas Concert.
In seventh grade, Melissa landed her first stage role as the ghost of a dead silent movie star in Our Guests Are Ghosts. Later that year, Melissa entered the Davey Junior High School Talent Show and took home the $50 First Place Prize. She also began singing with the school’s jazz ensemble and would continue with them throughout high school.
Throughout high school, Melissa continued to develop and explore her talents and interests. She was the vocalist for the jazz ensemble, editor of the school newsmagazine, and valedictorian of her graduating class. During her sophomore year, Melissa’s performance at the Ohio Solo & Ensemble Competition earned her an invitation to sing with an all-Ohio choir that toured Europe the following summer. She was also served as accompanist for the choir, statistician for the varsity football team, and a puppeteer for Kids on the Block, a troupe that works with disabled students to help promote awareness.
Melissa’s varied interests (and Midwestern rationality) initially led her to pursue a liberal arts degree from Kenyon College. Although she planned to declare an English or French major, she found that she was spending all of her time in the music department. During spring break her freshman year, Melissa visited a friend at the Eastman School of Music and totally fell in love with it. As she had missed the transfer application deadline by three months, she immediately set out on a campaign to be heard by the voice faculty. After one month of daily phone calls and e-mails from Melissa, they finally told her, “Fine! Send a tape.” She sent the tape and was accepted as one of ten vocalists in her graduating class.
Although Melissa loved her time at Eastman studying classical music, she found herself working in musical theatre. After performing for one year upon graduation at a small cabaret theatre, she was still unsure of which path to take, so she opted to earn her master’s degree while she figured it out. She moved to North Carolina to study voice at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she performed in both theatre and opera productions. And while studying opera at UNCG, she learned that she loved sweet tea, Southern hospitality, mild winters, and musical theatre.
After grad school, Melissa spent a couple of years living and working in New York City as a musical theatre performer. She booked some gigs and sang on Broadway–quite literally–at Ellen’s Stardust Diner (on Broadway Avenue), where she day jobbed as a singing waitress. Other side hustles included legal proofreading, waiting tables at a dog-themed biker restaurant on the Upper East Side, and temping as an admin in the executive office of Goldman Sachs during the 2008 financial crisis. But soon, Melissa found herself on the precipice of a new adventure: motherhood.
With the birth of their daughter, Scarlett, Melissa and her husband, Brian, moved back to Ohio to be closer to family. She then joined the family business (teaching) and opened her voice studio. After the birth of their son, Leo, Melissa and Brian moved to Athens, Ohio. There, Melissa joined the faculty of the Athens Community Music School as a master voice teacher and later the voice faculties of Hocking College and Ohio University’s musical theater program. During the pandemic, she left her academic teaching position to be home with her children while they attended online school and returned her focus to her independent voice studio. As a performer, after a career rooted in vocal versatility as a singing actress, Melissa decided that it was time to sound her voice and create her own sound. She is currently writing original songs and thinking about finally learning guitar.
Melissa loves books, coffee, France, 1980s hair bands, English grammar, Chihuahuas, and party dresses. She and her husband, Brian, live with their two children, Scarlett and Leo, in Athens, Ohio.