Would one call Laveaux’s music an eclectic mix? Without a doubt, how else could it be described? Born in Montréal in 1985 to immigrated Haitian parents, she grows up in Ottawa (Ontario), in a mostly Anglophone community. One of her first challenges was then to integrate herself to her new environment without leaving behind anything cherished from her original francophone and creole culture.
At the crossroads of her multiple identities, Mélissa becomes increasingly aware of the gap that lies between her life at home and her outside environment. A creative adolescent, she finds refuge in music, piecing mix tapes of late night radio hits to the more than slight disappointment of her parents, both teachers with hopes of her becoming a physician. She developes her music taste palette with North American folk music (Joni Mitchell, Feist, Tracy Chapman), British trip hop (Martina Topley-Bird, Morcheeba), alternative psychedelic Brazilian music (Adriana Calcanhotto, Os Mutantes), recent highlights in hip hop and nu-soul (Erykah Badu, Common, The Roots, The Fugees), voices that have become institutions in the African-American music (Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin) as well as more geographically distant stars in world music (Rokia Traoré, Lhasa…).
Brewing all of these influences into a mix of naiveté et instinctive brilliance, working daily on her guitar skills, Mélissa constructs her own, very personal, very rhythmic style of instrumental accompaniment. Soon she starts composing her first lyrics, her first songs. From hereon, this very contemporary songwriting, integrating all of her underlying culturally existential facets, instead of branding them with a political message, opts for the road of intimate storytelling, the adventure of a free voice speaking candidly in all confidence to an audience.
But music isn’t everything. Like her siblings, she is determined to pursue her studies, with the hopes of working in the field of Social Sciences, feeling the urgency and need to keep expressing herself artistically and academically seeing both as mutually influential. “One cannot go without the other. I need music to live and to live to inspire my music”, states the deeply convinced 23 year old. University of Ottawa becomes her alma mater, discerning her with a Bachelor of Arts in Ethics & Society.
During her studies, she performs at the open mic night at the graduate student pub. A young percussionist spots her and encourages her to jam with him and eventually form a band. As a duo, Mélissa tours with Rob Reid on weekends, playing campus pubs and small bars in Canada as well as garnering some attention from local and national media (CBC, SRC) and music institutions (Ontario Council of Folk Festivals, Montreal International Jazz festival). At 21 years old, she self-produces an album she puts up on myspace. 2007 comes and the French label No Format!, seduced, takes off to see her play in Montréal and signs her right away. That same year, she records her album, ‘Camphor & Copper’, produced out of base tracks from the original self-produced album.
Apart from two magnificently reinvented cover versions of lesser known originals (Elliot Smith’s « Needle in the hay » and Eartha Kitt’s « I Wanna be Evil ») that could be considered the imaginary bounds of her musical universe, her repertoire is composed of original pieces of an impressive maturity and freshness only found amongst the best in her field. With this album, Mélissa releases in one blow, all of the creative energy stored during years of learning and straightaway finds the right tone. Minimalist arrangements privilege the energy and poetic impact of her wording. Her voice, alone, unfurls, majestic and fragile, profound and sensual, furrowed with deep stirring under the immediate seduction, almost reworked and rearranged by the ever-present trilingualism in her life: the fluidity of the English, the nonchalant syncopation of the Kreyol, and the harmonic sophistication of the French.
Without a doubt, with such an album, the 23 year old Haitian-Canadian makes a startling debut in the small circle of the promising singer-songwriters of our era.
Edited by [deleted user] on 28 Dec 2008, 11:36
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