Mélissa Laveaux to thrill fans at Southbank Centre

She’ll perform with Guitarist Gautier Vizioz, bassist Benjamin Molinaro and drummer Alexandre Tran Van Tuat

A Canadian artist originally from Haiti, Mélissa Laveaux will perform at the Southbank Centre, London on 22nd April. In this London debut she will perform with Guitarist Gautier Vizioz, bassist Benjamin Molinaro and drummer Alexandre Tran Van Tuat.

Mélissa, barely 24 years old, is one of the discoveries of 2009! Her music is drawn from a deep and intimate knowledge of the global musical milieu, a bilingual raw mix of acoustic soul/jazz and percussive Kreyol folklore, a fresh offering to the folk music scene.. Her poems, recited in her soulful voice, evoke Joni Mitchell, Macy Gray, Nina Simone and Rokia Traoré.

Would one call Mélissa’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.

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 Mélissa. 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. In 2007 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.

MELLISA LAVEAUX (vocals/guitar)
Friday 22nd April 2011
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, London, SE1 8XX
Tickets: £17.50/£15.00 (cons)