Remembering Melanie: A Tribute to the Woodstock Performer and ‘Brand New Key’ Singer

Lelilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred, Melanie’s daughters, have confirmed her passing. Melanie was a performer at Woodstock in 1969 and the author of hits like “Brand New Key” and “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain).” She was seventy-six.

The performer, whose full name was Melanie Safka, passed away on Tuesday, as verified by Cleopatra, her record label.

“Writing this post has been the hardest for us because there are so many things we want to say at the beginning, and there isn’t a simple way to do it. On January 23, 2024, Mom quietly transitioned from this world to the next, as her children announced on Facebook.

Her children wrote, “Although we are devastated, we would like to express our gratitude to each and every one of you for your love and support of our mother, and to let you know how much she loved each of you.” “Every word she wrote and every note she sang reflected that she was one of the most talented, strong, and passionate women of her time.”

They said, “We know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars. Our world is much dimmer, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today.”

Cleopatra stated in their statement that there was a “illness,” but no details regarding the cause of death were provided right after.

Melanie’s children urged fans to light a candle on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. CT in memory of their mother.

In Astoria, New York, on February 3, 1947, Melanie was born. She attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to further her studies while pursuing her singing career. She first got to know Peter Schekeryk, her future manager, producer, and spouse, in 1967.

After signing with Columbia Records, her first record company, she recorded two singles, “Beautiful People” and “Garden in the City.” She left Columbia Records in 1968 and joined Buddah Records, where she recorded her debut LP, according to her most recent record company, Cleopatra.

The vocalist played at Woodstock the following year, at 22, and became a part of the legendary lineup that included Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, and the Grateful Dead.

She stated to the Associated Press in 2019 that “the terror kept building in me.” “The idea of me doing a solo performance on that enormous stage, in front of all those people. When it began to rain, I genuinely thought that everyone would leave and head home. I’m free, it’s pouring, and I’ll return to my former life. I might become an archaeologist or enlist in the Peace Corps. “You’re next,” they said at that point.

After releasing multiple singles, including as “Lay Down” and a rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday,” Billboard crowned her the best-selling female artist in the United States for 1971.

After that, Melanie started her own record company, Neighborhood Records, and put her hit song “Brand New Key” on the charts.

Melanie was working on her 32nd album, a tribute album that she was planning to name Second Hand Smoke, when she passed away. The album included cover versions of songs by Morrissey, such as “Ouija Board Ouija Board,” “Hurt,” and “Creep” by Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead.

Melanie was also collaborating with the Cleopatra label to reprint her earlier records, which had been out after her departure from Buddah in 1971. Her 1984 live CD One Night Only will be released first as part of the reissue rollout. The project, which will be distributed posthumously, will be overseen by her three children.

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