Apr 052006
Authors: Meg Burd

Standing only five feet tall, the petite Melissa Ivey commands the stage in a very big way. With her sultry voice, assured presence and powerful music, Ivey has swiftly become a popular musician in the Colorado scene and beyond.

Possessing a large and growing fan base in Fort Collins (her previous shows in town were well-attended) Ivey brings more to the stage than ever before as she comes back to town for a performance April 8 at the Sunset Event Center for a benefit for the Women’s Resource Center.

Voted the top singer/songwriter in 2005 by Westword, Ivey’s recent release and tour has taken her on something of a hectic roller coaster ride toward recognition and musical success.

“Ever since we got done with the album, it’s been hectic,” Ivey notes with a laugh. “Touring and a lot of writing.”

Already a well-known and respected singer/songwriter in the area music scene, 2005 marked a banner year for Ivey and things are likely to keep going up this year. She has been compared favorably to other female singer/songwriters such as Ani diFranco, Melissa Ethridge and even Janis Joplin, thanks to her powerful voice and personal style of songwriting. Ivey had received positive notice before, but the recognition really took off with her most recent endeavors. Releasing her album “From the Inside, Out” marked a particularly high point in Ivey’s year, with the album leading to a tour and more recognition.

“I’d been putting out bootlegs and stuff I burned off my computer,” she said of her pre-album days. After being taken under the wing of the recording studio Global Sound and producing her album, things really took off. “Once the album came out I was able to tour with it.”

Although she had been recognized in markets such as California and parts of the East Coast before, the addition of the album allowed her to enter these areas with something a little more tangible.

“It was nice to rehit these markets with a new product,” she said of the tour.

Ivey was inspired by music when she was young, by a musician who visited her school. Learning to play a variety of instruments while young, Ivey first took to the stage in California at the age of 15, playing in a band with more of a punk sound. A break with them brought her to Colorado in 2001.

Leaving her day job behind was a big step for Ivey, who is now a full-time musician, navigating the creative and business side of the profession.

“The biggest thing is the music,” she said of her career. “But pieces of it are the business side.”

For Ivey, having a sense of direction, a way she can express herself creatively and allow others to hear her expressions, is the key to musical success. After encountering many struggling artists in Los Angeles and other places, the need for a plan and the motivation and talent for fulfilling that plan became all too clear. Many of these artists, she noted, were talented and had dreams but no outline for achieving these dreams. Ivey, on the other hand, has a decided knack for understanding the varied aspects of a music career.

“I know where my career is going to go,” she notes. “I’m a planner.”

This focus on both a creative and business side is evident even as she plans her next album. Collecting what she considers her best work, Ivey aims to soon release a new EP, one that will continue in the direction her fans have come to appreciate while still marking her evolution as a singer/songwriter.

With her song “Lovers and Stars,” as an example, she notes the new EP will be “Different. It’s a prime example of the growth that’s happened.”

Currently working with what she considers one of her strongest lineups, Ivey credits her band mates Mike Whalen on lead guitar, Matt Hall on bass, Sean Hodges on drums and James Han on keyboards with much of her recent growth.

“They take the little seeds of a song and make it happen,” she notes of her band, hoping they will continue by her side in her climb to success.

With a steady plan that allows for such growth, Ivey hopes to capitalize on her recent successes while at the same time staying humble about such things. Even so, she doesn’t plan to let up any time soon.

“I keep setting the standard a little higher for myself,” Ivey said. “It’s definitely intense.”

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