By Mara Siegler
Since the release of her critically acclaimed debut album, The Bridge, R&B singer Melanie Fiona has been on a quick rise to stardom: In just the past few months she earned a Grammy nomination, scored a No. 1 hit on the R&B charts, appeared on Ellen Degeneres and Jimmy Kimmel Live and graced the pages of Billboard, the New York Times, Nylon and even Italian Vanity Fair. On March 16, just prior to starting her tour opening for Alicia Keys, she joined Music Unites to kick off our Women's Empowerment initiative with an intimate acoustic concert at the Cooper Square Hotel Penthouse. DJ Chelsea Leyland spun inside and Melanie mingled with guests such as Tinsley Mortimer, Ryan Leslie, Eric West and Jeannine Ortega.
With a panoramic background of New York at night behind them, guests bobbed their heads as Melanie performed favorite chart toppers "It Kills Me" and "Give It To Me Right," and raised their hands in the air with approval as she belted out her soon-to-be-released single "Ayo."
The Music Unites Empowering Women in Music initiative narrows in on the organizations larger goals of bringing music education to underprivileged children in underserved communities, paying special attention to young girls. This platform will promote emerging and established female artists and designers who are role models and passionate about giving back to their community. Melanie will serve as an ambassador, going into inner city school systems to spend time with the girls and serve as a mentor, holding music workshops.
"The word ambassador, some people might think 'It's such a huge thing,' but anybody can be an ambassador of any cause, of anything that they're passionate about, everyday," said Melanie. "I'm definitely passionate about music, about being a young woman in music. I feel strongly through my songs and I hope that they empower woman and give women a sense of strength and self-respect and self-worth. This is a perfect campaign to give back and express what I do best for a great cause."
The outreach programming will consist of a series of workshops on songwriting to speaking to local schools on topics focused on Women Empowerment and Music in order to educate and ignite passion for the music world and the different cultures and races that surround it, while educating the next generation of young musicians. Music Unites will also facilitate community outreach concerts and offer collaborations with other artists of different genres in underserved inner-city schools so children will be exposed to new varieties of music and given the opportunity to interact with the musicians.
Universal Motown, Melanie Fiona's label, has had a special partnership with Music Unites and has supported the charity from the very beginning. Last April, Universal Motown launched the charity with an acoustic performance at Norwood with Blue October and Tamarama. Other Motown artists that have worked with Music Unites includes Tina Parol and Jadyn Maria.
"Our partnership with Music Unites has been a dynamic one. The opportunity to expose new talent and cross promote genres from our diverse roster has created a prototype for the ever evolving music scene," said Phylicia Fant, Universal Motown's vice president of publicity and events.
After the performance, guests mingled on the terrace and enjoyed cocktails mixed with Red Bull. People were also able to purchase tee-shirts designed by David Arquette of PROPR and bracelets designed by Melanie and designer Gina Nigrelli of Jules Smith, the proceeds benefiting Music Unites, and took time out to read OK Magazine, one of the evenings sponsors along with Lancôme.