Melanie Fiona crossed many bridges to arrive at The MF Life. Conceptual bridges. Spiritual bridges. Actual bridges. Stadium-thumpin' bridges. Hard-lovin' emotional bridges. The MF Life, the Grammy-nominated soulstress’s second album for SRC/Title 9/Universal Motown, evinces the charmed life of an immensely gifted vocalist in forward motion, hurtling up the road, the radio dial, and the charts to a unique place where myriad listeners can soothe their souls and hear the beat of their own hearts.
“It’s all in the interest of growth,” explains Melanie Fiona, a Los Angeles-based native of Toronto, Canada who is co-managed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation imprint. “The key thing I want to impress upon anyone who listens to The MF Life is the idea that it’s possible to learn from everything that comes at you,” she continues. “That’s been my process. It’s why on the surface, the ‘MF’ in the album title represents my initials, but it also gets at the many facets of myself as an artist and a young woman. It can be viewed as the ‘Mighty Fine Life’ in times of triumph and success, but also the ‘Mother-F-ing Life’ when I’m dealing with frustration or misfortune. I celebrate both. I feel it would be dishonest if everything was all about glitz and glamour. It’s about the balance of life, the yin and the yang, the good and the bad, all of that.”
“Gone and Never Coming Back,” the powerfully emotive lead single from The MF Life, catapults Melanie Fiona’s career to new heights with a breathtaking display of resolve and resilience. Written by frequent collaborator Andrea Martin, “Gone and Never Coming Back” finds Fiona picking up where she left off on “It Kills Me,” the Grammy-nominated hit single from her critically acclaimed 2009 debut CD, The Bridge. In it, she passionately sings, “It’s sad that all he ever said / Was that he’d love me to death / But then he’s gone again / And I was wrong again.” The richness of Fiona’s voice exemplifies the veracity of the song’s brokenhearted lyrics, as do producer Jay Fenix’s anchoring piano chords and swelling, luxuriant strings. “An artist can’t be afraid to show vulnerability,” says Fiona. “‘It Kills Me’ was about being confused about what direction you want to take the pain you’re feeling — essentially being stuck between a rock and a hard place. ‘Gone and Never Coming Back’ is the aftermath of that. The relationship is over and you’re walking away from it, saying goodbye to some-thing as well as someone, and there’s still a whole range of hurt there, too.”
With the release of The Bridge, Melanie Fiona emerged as one of 2009’s finest new breakout stars, appearing everywhere from The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to Live with Regis and Kelly, The Wendy Williams Show, and Last Call with Carson Daly. The album’s breakthrough ballad, “It Kills Me,” topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for nine weeks and earned Fiona her first Grammy nomination in 2010 for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance. Popular favorites such as “Give It to Me Right” and “Ay Yo” demonstrated Fiona’s unique ability to mix classic R&B/soul influences with a street-smart attitude and hip-hop swagger, resulting in an entirely fresh sound all her own, which she has developed into an electrifying live show. In fact, in 2010, Melanie Fiona was the only artist to be invited to perform on BET’s Rising Icons program for the second year in a row, and she has toured with Kanye West and Alicia Keys, in addition to co-headlining the 2009 Heineken Red Star Soul Tour and the 2011 BET Music Matters II Tour.
Since the release of her first album and 2010’s The Bridge Acoustic EP, Melanie Fiona has received a multitude of awards, nominations, and honors. Among them, she was named iTunes’ Best New R&B/Soul Artist of 2009 and won the trophy for Best New Artist at the 2010 Soul Train Awards, in addition to picking up four nominations at the 2010 BET Awards, plus a 2010 NAACP Image Award nod for Outstanding New Artist, a 2010 Juno Award nomination for R&B/Soul Recording of the Year, and a 2011 Grammy nomination in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for her guest appearance on “Wake Up! Everybody” by John Legend and The Roots, featuring Common.
Melanie Fiona has also captured the attention of many fashion, sports, automotive, and luxury brands, and her songs are highly sought after by music supervisors for film and television. She is the celebrity face of Rocawear’s Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 NEXT national ad campaigns, which includes a billboard in New York City’s Times Square, along with advertisements in Teen Vogue and Seventeen. In 2009, Fiona was featured in the Steve Madden Music campaign both online and in-stores, and she performed at the inaugural Fashion’s Night Out event at the Steve Madden store in New York City. Her songs have been featured in a variety of hugely popular televisions shows such as ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and Ugly Betty; MTV’s The Hills and Taking the Stage; and CSI: Miami on CBS. The world of sports came calling when she was invited to perform at the 2009 NFL Thanksgiving Day Motown 50th Anniversary Tribute Halftime Show in Detroit. Two years later, Fiona performed the Canadian national anthem at the 2011 NBA All-Star Game in Los Angeles. She is a featured artist of the 2010 and 2011 Lexus Listening Lounge series, and in 2009 Melanie Fiona’s recording of “La Vie En Rose (La Vie En Rosato)” was created and used for a pan-European TV and radio campaign to promote the launch of Martini & Rossi’s Rosato.
The maturity Melanie Fiona displays on The MF Life is underscored by her remarkable versatility and cosmopolitan panache. The album showcases a stunning mix of vibrant new sounds from a host of A-list R&B producers and songwriters, each partaking of the originality that has made Fiona a sought-after collaborator by everyone from Cee-Lo Green (“Fool For You”) and John Legend & The Roots (“Wake Up! Everybody”) to reggae superstar Stephen Marley (“No Cigarette Smoking (In My Room)”) and U.K. rapper Tinchy Stryder (“Let It Rain”). “The MF Life is definitely less retro-sounding than my first album,” says Fiona, who credits her parents, Guyanese émigrés to Canada, with giving her a solid foundation in the time-honored classics of Sam Cooke and Stevie Wonder, among other greats. The transformative impulse is one Fiona relishes. “Making the leap from Canada,” she explains, “I was recognized for two things: Being a powerful vocalist and an emotional storyteller. It’s clear to me that with those traits in place, the sky’s the limit. I think if listeners feel that they can believe what you’re singing, they’ll stick with you no matter what you try.”
Clearly, The MF Life points the way forward for a boldly captivating new voice with an auspicious future.