Toronto based singer and songwriter Melissa Lauren has smoothly made the transition from veteran swing “crooness” to songwriter. The music - her own brand of old school jazz, Do-wap and blues mixed with Indie pop inflections and sounds; very much a product of her early musical training meeting her adult musical encounters.
Her latest single, "Stop" was released on January 22nd, to positive fan and media response. In order to adhere to Covid19 restrictions and safety, the song was recorded and produced at home, with husband Nathan Hiltz playing guitar, bass, and banjo, David MacDougall on drums (remotely.) The song is charged with political undertones, and emotional reckoning, and will be part of a full length recording, "The Little Ones", an audience crafted collection of songs. Curated after a series of house concerts and a Canadian Tour, the repertoire or “playlist” consists of the songs that resonated most with listeners.
“The shows were intimate enough that I could talk to people after, even during. Three sets of jazz, blues and folky pop were whittled down to ten songs, to be eventually recorded as an album.”
Songs include the gentle pop groove of “The Little Ones” a dedication to her three-year-old daughter in which she addresses her future loves, as well as danceable blues paired best with electric effects, and a torch song and Willie Nelson cover. The (unreleased) folk/pop “Eyes Open” was awarded runner up in the North American Song and Lyric Competition. Pairing with her husband, guitarist Nathan Hiltz, the live show is charming, and calls people from all walks of life to trust their hearts to Lauren’s frank yet soothing word puzzles, and Hiltz’ deep grounding in rich harmony and supportive groove. The touring format includes bass and drums for larger stages and festivals.
As a teen, Melissa got a strong start touring and performing across North America with The Toronto All Star Big Band. She spent her early adulthood finding her sound and paving her way in the Canadian music scene as a songwriter, performer, and musical director. Melissa has performed at local and international music festivals and series, including the Halifax Jazz Festival, Toronto Downtown Jazz Festival, Beaches International Jazz Festival, Markham Jazz Festival and Oakville International Jazz Festival as well as Canadian Music Week, North By North East Festival, Kensington Market Jazz Festival, Sudbury Jazz Fastival, Toronto Harbourfront Music Series, the Home Smith jazz series, and has had residencies in Toronto at places such as the Rex and the Cameron House. Summer of 2018 saw her a nomination for best artist at the Halifax International Jazz Festival’s Stingray Music Competition. While touring Canada has become a constant in her touring life, Melissa was thrilled to debut in Europe this Spring with shows in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Poland.
Melissa's sophomore album, "Your Mess" was released to great charting and review across Canada. The first single released in Canada, “Send Them Away,” was song of the week on CBC radio in Toronto, and nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award.
Melissa's sophomore album, "Your Mess" was released to great charting and review across Canada. The first single I released in Canada, “Send Them Away,” was song of the week on CBC radio in Toronto, and has been nominated for a Toronto Independent Music Award.
In addition to her own music, Melissa has been lending her voice to studio work in the electronic music scene. She has sung on five of producer/writer Hibernate’s recently released tracks, one of which was the opening track one of seminal pioneer trance DJ Paul Oakenfold’s compilation albums, released under Perfecto Records.
"It's a confidant album with plenty of charm. If you like your jazz outside of the box, this is the disc for you."
Garvia Baily, Big City Small World, CBC
"Lauren has a beguiling voice that mixes sweet playfulness with solid technique, control and range."
Cathy Riches, Wholenote Magazine
"Melissa Lauren is a real jazz singer, good in the way Blossom Dearie or Stacie Kent are good. Once you hear her sing, you want to keep listening."
Stanley Fefferman, The Opus One Review
"Melissa Lauren can sing. And Write...she takes gorgeous risks turning notes inside-out without ever landing flat or straining. As a Songwriter, she's a winner."
Marc Myers, Jazzwax
""I won't rest until I am my best for you."" The Toronto Chanteuse can now put up her feet - she's lovely with her strum my and breezy elegance, which is absolutely good to us. "
Brad Wheeler, The Globe and Mail