With her rich, multi-octave vocal textures and impeccable phrasing, Melissa Walker has won kudos in concerts across several continents, working with such hallowed talents as Hank Jones, Gary Bartz, and Kenny Barron; young jazz geniuses like Christian McBride, Stefon Harris and Mokoto Ozone; and late greats like Ray Brown.
Her three CD releases since 1997 - and well-deserved Canadian Juno award nomination and US Indie honorable mention -- have created a nuanced corpus of jazz standards and new material unrivaled in its reverence for America's jazz tradition.
In performance in Manhattan at the Jazz Standard, Birdland, or Iridium; abroad, at the Blue Note or Sweet Basil in Japan or Pizza Express in London; or at Montreux and other jazz fests, Walker has turned heads and excited influential critics to rave about her winning personality and technical excellence.
Melissa's anchored and wide-open musicianship mirrors her dual cultural heritage. Born the youngest of three sisters in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where her father played professional football and parents eventually went on to earn doctorate degrees, Melissa graduated from Brown University intending to enroll in law school. But the legal life was not to be! Local performances led to out-of-town dates, then to her 1993 self-produced recording, Little Wishes, and relocation to New York City, where she studied with pianist and master vocal-accompanist Norman Simmons. Matthias Winckelmann of Germany's Enja Records heard her sing, and she became the first female jazz vocalist signed by his impressive label since Abbey Lincoln many years earlier.