Walking down the streets on her way to her band rehearsal at the Alliance Fraincáisé dé Nairobi, she attracts glances from all corners. To most, she is the bully sugar mummy in the local TV series, “Guy Centre” screening on Nation TV or the troubled young businesswoman, “Waridi”, on Citizen TV. Once in a while, she engages in a chat with her fans. One thing that most people don’t know about her is that acting comes second after music in her life.
I take pride in having worked with her in the last three years and see her grow soon to be Kenya’s “new girl” in Afro fusion. In 2006 November, I was sourcing for a background vocalist for Iddi Achieng’s debut album launch when I came across Melissa and her buddy Nice Githinji at a rehearsal. Their voices struck me and I wasted no time picking them up for the job. Three years down the line, she has worked with the ‘who is who’ in the “Afro-Fusion” music world. She has traveled wide and beyond with the likes of Mutinda, Makadem, Olith Ratego among others as well as performed alongside legends like Iddi Achieng’, Suzanna Owiyo, Eric Wainaina among others.
Musically, she attributes her performance at the 6th Sauti za Busara Music Festival in Zanzibar where she was a BGV for Iddi Achieng’ and Mutinda, as her best moments. She shared a stage with Zanzibar’s best, Bi Kidude, the 90+ years old Zanzibar Heartthrob, Comoros Island’s Nawal, Uganda’s Rachael Magoola, Morocco’s Natasha Atlas, the evergreen Samba Mapangala, Zimbabwe’s Tendai Manatsa, Joshua Meck, South Africa’s Jazz Guru Moreira among other internationally acclaimed African Musicians. Melissa who was part of the cast of “Mofaya”, the musical play by Eric Wainaina that won an award at the prestigious New York Musical Theatre Festival alongside, John Sibi-Okumu, Mumbi Kaigwa, Atemi Oyungu and Valarie Kimani believes that her humbleness and willingness to learn has brought her this far.
Currently, preparations for launch her debut solo album “Baba Speaks” at The Alliance Fraincáisé dé Nairobi on 18th June 2010 is on top gear. “Baba Speaks” an eight track solo album attributed and dedicated to the ‘African Child’. With a warning on behavior change in “Asali Tungu”, a wake up call to children to listen to the elders in “Baba Speaks” which is also the album title, a lamentation on the tribalism, its effects to the community and the reason why it should be shunned in “Kilio”, a dedication to the mothers “Mama” and ascertain that in all the negatives of slum life, love too exists there in “Red Roses” among other socially themed songs such as “Sauti”, “Moyo” and “Uwapi”.
Recorded at “Mtu Kawaida Entertainment” by Davis Ngala of the Yunasi Group, the vocals are as powerful as the tracks and invoke a lot of thought, unlike most of the music the Kenyan Audience has been accustomed to!