If you are like me, Melissa Manchester means two things; a reference from the film Drop Dead Gorgeous and ‘70s power ballads. What you might not know about New York-born singer is that her career included songwriting sessions with Carole Bayer-Sager in New York, a friendship with Peter Allen and even a recurring role on early ‘90s show Blossom – who knew?
Touring Australia for the first time in decades, Manchester has been anything but idle in recent years. Since breaking through with songs like Don’t Cry Out Loud, she has written tracks for US pop star Leona Lewis and worked on a number of film soundtracks.
“I’ll be doing, of course, a whole bunch of hits but there are some newer things that I have been writing for films in the last couple of years,” Manchester said of her concert.
“One song that I wrote called I Know Who I Am, that was included in Tyler Perry’s courageous film Colored Girls and recorded by Leona Lewis, and another song, Rainbird, for a film called Dirty Girls.”
Manchester recalled how her music ended up in Dirty Girls after she got a bizarre request from the film’s director, Abe Sylvia.
“Abe Sylvia wrote me like a crazy stalking fan letter and I read his script and it was so fantastic and it was so smart,” she said.
“It takes place in Oklahoma in 1987 and it’s the story of two teenagers coming of age.
“The boy has a very dysfunctional family and he has nobody to talk to about the fact that he is gay and the way he copes with life is through my music; there’s actually nine of my songs in the film.”
Manchester says she hopes to draw the gay community to her shows while in Australia.
“Gosh I hope I’m a gay icon,” she said with a laugh.
“Historically gay audiences are magnificently supportive of the artists that they take close to their heart, and so many of those people meant so much to me.”
Manchester grew up in New York and started her career singing in coffee houses before it took off with hits like Midnight Blue.
She worked with the top names in the industry at the time, including Australian Peter Allen.
Manchester also had a recurring role on early ‘90s sitcom Blossom as the title characters estranged mother which was “a lot of fun” she tells us.
Melissa Manchester tours Adelaide, Canberra, NSW and Perth in October/November, including The Basement (Sydney) on November 4 and Souths Juniors (Kensington) on November 9.