Michael Melia is a singer/songwriter who draws from a folk-rock tradition in his original work. Although Influences of a wide array of artists are often hinted in his work both musically and vocally (e.g., Paul Simon, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Gordon Lightfoot, Joni Mitchell to name a few) his performances are distinctively Michael Melia, whether covers or his own originals. Michael’s stage appearances are characterized by his unusual pairing of a folk finger-picking style to an acoustic 12-string guitar.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio I was the third of eight kids, the son of a Mechanical Engineer who was a child of Irish immigrants and first generation college graduate. He was an entrepreneur of sorts who started and operated construction and property management businesses, among others while running his own mechanical engineering firm. My mother managed rather effectively (and with relative poise) the controlled chaos at home. As a child I had an insatiable curiosity, a craving to understand “how things work”. I had a fascination of things science and technology and a tendency to leave a trail of dismantled toys, motors, and other mechanical and electrical/electronic devices in my wake. Got my first real guitar (bottom of the line Kay) when I was in grade school and learned to play a few chords. I wanted to start up a band.
I ran Track and Cross Country in high school (and hey, still a competitive runner). I wanted to be a writer. I managed to get short story and poetry submissions accepted to my high school and later college literary publications. I thought about majoring in Journalism but chose Physics as my college major. It was in college that I began performing publicly. After graduating I bought a used Triumph TR6, a declaration of independence from the sensible life I imagined was mapped out for me.
I was a high school teacher for a year after receiving my undergraduate degree then I went back for a master’s as an Air Pollution Engineering major. All the while I was performing in bars and restaurants around greater Cincinnati area as a singer/songwriter soloist.
While working part time for USEPA and attending graduate school I managed to cut a demo record of a couple originals at the time. After graduate school I got a job with an environmental consulting engineering firm in Cincinnati, performing in bars and restaurants on the side. A few years later I met my dental assistant wife who shouldered more than her share of the child rearing responsibilities for our growing family, and I began to direct attention to the corporate ladder climb. I contacted someone at MTV in NYC about a song I’d written that I thought could be a Spring Break theme for the next Spring Break season at the time. Seemed to get some interest but with a young growing family and lacking courage to pursue the issue further I backed away. So as kids came along my public performances dropped off shedding things of my youth (with some of my hairline) for a focus on career.
I was approached by the owner of an environmental services firm in Syracuse New York, I was offered and accepted a management position with the firm. The company moved my wife, three kids and I to the area and we settled in Baldwinsville, New York.
Sometime later my employer acquired a small environmental engineering and geoscience services firm in Cary, NC. I was asked and accepted the offer to manage the newly acquired firm, moving the family to Cary. It was there a few years later that I witnessed the falling of the twin towers on an old TV someone found in the warehouse of that office in Cary, and it stuck with me.
When my employer’s businesses were later acquired by another company, I took a management position with a Columbus OH engineering firm’s Durham NC office. By that time, the kids were already pretty much out on their own and I started considering what else I might do that would be more meaningful, where I thought I could contribute and where I could step back from managing a business for a more hands-on engineering experience. I also began toying with the idea of resuming public performances. With a little push from my daughter, I did.
So, after little more than a year with the Durham business, I shifted careers and took a position as a systems engineer with TSA headquarters in Arlington Virginia. That change might have led to another move but after taking leave from her dental assistant job in Cary and trying a few temp jobs in northern Virginia we concluded Cary was really home. So, I ended up renting an apartment in the area and traveling between Alexandria VA and Cary for weekends and holidays at home. Being stranded in Alexandria during most work weeks I started performing in open mic events at venues Northern Virginia.
I perform regularly now at venues in Northern Virginia and North Carolina, and periodically elsewhere as time allows; I’m writing songs and recording. So, there you have it – the story of my life, so far anyway…