“Our world is much dimmer”: Woodstock star Melanie dead at 76


Melanie, a singer-songwriter who appeared at the 1969 Woodstock festival, has died at the age of 76. Her three children, Leilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred, confirmed the news in a statement.

The statement read: “This is the most difficult post for us to write, and there are so many things we want to say, first, and there’s no easy way to say it… Mom passed peacefully from this world to the next on January 23rd, 2024.

“We are heartbroken, but we want to thank each and every one of you for your love for our Mother, and to let you know that she adored you all! She was one of the most gifted, strong, and passionate women of her time, and every word she wrote and note she sang reflected this.

Our world is much dimmer, the colours of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today. But, we know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars.”

Melanie was born Melanie Safka on February 3, 1947, in Queens, NY. She grew up in a musical family. Her father was a jazz guitarist, and she developed an early interest in folk music in the burgeoning counterculture scene of New York City.

Melanie’s breakthrough came in 1969 at the Woodstock Festival. The experience inspired her to write Lay Down (Candles).

“I’ve had experiences where I wasn’t quite in my body, but never during a performance,” she explained to Songfacts. “I believe that when I first got out there, I watched myself sit down. And it wasn’t until I sang the first note that I felt like myself again. It was nearly like an explosion. And I believe that all 500,000 people witnessed this without knowing what had happened.

She achieved international success in 1971 with the release of Brand New Key. This topped the charts in the United States, Canada, and Australia and peaked at number five in the United Kingdom. Brand New Key would also inspire Irish songwriter Brendan O’Shaughnessy’s parody, Combine Harvester, which went on to become a UK number one for comedy folk act The Wurzels.

Despite her initial success, Melanie’s popularity faded over time. Nonetheless, she continued to release albums and tour. Her final album, Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me, was released in 2010. Her final performances were in 2022.

Melanie’s children have announced that they will hold a “Celebration of Life” to honour their mother. There has been no announcement regarding the cause of death.

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