Performing a mix of hits from a successful career and her first studio album in a decade, Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester opens Arizona MusicFest’s first Fall Fest this weekend.
Ms. Manchester performs 7:30 p.m. Oct. 28 at Highlands Church, 9050 E. Pinnacle Peak Road, Scottsdale. Her concert will feature a variety of top hits from her 40-plus-year career in popular music, as well as her first studio album since 2004, “You Gotta Love the Life.”
Now a professor of music at the University of Southern California, Ms. Manchester’s students taught her the art of crowd funding to produce “You Gotta Love the Life.” Not being accountable to a record label helped her feel free to write openly and to become increasingly more connected to her fans.
“The connection between the fans, it was so touching, it was so tender,” she said. “I really felt the presence of a village.”
Moving away from a big record label was daunting, but the album taught her a lot about life and herself.
“It taught me once and for all that I can trust myself, that I can trust my musical intuition, that I can trust my sense of musical balance,” Ms. Manchester said. “That was something I was no longer going to be talked out of.”
The album features performances by musical icons and contemporaries of Ms. Manchester such as Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, Keb’ Mo’, Dionne Warwick, Dave Koz and Joe Sample.
“These are musical heroes of mine, so for them to say yes to be part of this, was thrilling and unexpected,” she said.
After releasing her first album, “Home to Myself,” in 1973, Ms. Manchester wrote and performed several top 10 hits in the 1970s and ‘80s. She believes all of her songs have stood the test of time.
“The songs that were written 40 years ago, they have deepened and widened, because I approached each song as a monologue.”
Ms. Manchester feels the experience of creating a new album for the first time in years, and figuring out how to self-fund it, was an act of courage that became an unexpected and welcome next step in her long career.
“You need courage to keep saying yes to yourself because, the truth is, if you decide not to do this anymore the world will give you permission to leave,” she said.
Ms. Manchester is “thrilled” to return to Arizona for Arizona MusicFest and she is excited to perform songs from her career’s entire catalogue – well-known hits and brand-new songs.
“These songs are alive with me.”
Tickets range $34 to $76. For more information, visit www.azmusicfest.org or call 480- 840-0457.
Editor’s note: Jenny Brewer is a journalism student at Arizona State University’s Cronkite School of Journalism.