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Sounds of Buffalo: The Melissa Kate Project

How did the name of the band come about? When did it form?
There’s no great mystery or story behind my name. I thought when we created the name that I would eventually come up with something more clever, but it has remained just as it is– it’s simple, and it’s true. We’re a project. We’re still developing our sound. I am the vocalist. Wednesday’s band (see below for more info) will feature Tim Webb on drums, Paul Yates on Bass, and Van Taylor on keys.
Where are you from originally?
I’m a Troy, NY girl. But I grew up in Western New York, and am proud to call Buffalo home.
 What’s it like to perform in front of a crowd? Give me three words.
Different every time.
When and why did you start singing?
Singing is a natural expression of our humanity. I have been a singer my entire life, it’s like breathing. If I go several days without singing, my body and spirit are fully aware of it. It’s akin to someone going several days without eating–there’s a spiritual starvation that takes place. The format has changed through the years, but there’s no “why” other than that I must.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” singing well, when you knew that you would be a singer?
I remember being excited about the song “Me and My Shadow” as sung by my mom’s Sweet Adeline’s chorus. It was the first song they let me come up and sing with them during rehearsal. I was just a kid.
Describe your voice.
I studied as a coloratura… but truthfully I’m much more mezzo soprano now. I’ve had my voice described to me, and my favorite description is “burgundy.”
Did music come naturally to you? Or were you driven to learn and play/sing? What sparked the passion? Do you come from a musical family?
It always starts naturally, doesn’t it? Singing is what humans do. Our culture separates folks into “good” and “bad” singers, but the truth is it’s a natural expression for all of us. My mom sings, and my brother is a music educator. I could never get the hang of instruments – although I’ve tried to play many of them. I devoted my time to singing instead.
Are you schooled in music? From where?

Yes, I studied in college. Most of my education comes from working, professional musicians and my absolute love of all kinds of singers.
Which famous musicians/singers do you admire?
Right now I’m listening to Asa, Stevie Wonder, Sam Cooke and Kate Miller-Heidke. But I never stray too far from the greatest voices of all time–Karen Carpenter, Barbara Streisand and Julie Andrews. Listening to their recordings keep me grounded in my roots.
Where is your favorite place to sing in Buffalo? Where would you most like to sing in Buffalo?
Kleinhans Music Hall. I enjoyed that venue most. I would love to return.
What’s your day job?
I work with Young Audiences of Western New York. I’m a teaching artist with them, and also their development assistant. It’s home. I’m surrounded by a group of people who believe in the power of the arts to make a difference in a community, and especially to young people. There’s no better mission.
How would you describe your music style? Influences?
Sultry Cabaret Jazz and Blues. I’m inspired by the greats, and like every musical theater baby, I also want to entertain.
What was the last live music performance that you caught? What was the best show you ever caught?
I’m not very big on going out to live performances, most of that probably has to do with living on an artist’s budget– I can’t afford to be a regular audience member. But there are a few performances that were important to me. Natalie Cole, and once I was a terrible person to somebody I love dearly – I abandoned him in order to catch a show by Little Jimmy Scott. I still feel like a heel, but I’m still glad I saw that master singer at work.

Do you sing covers or all originals? Ar a combination of both?
Both. I prefer to sing my own music, but I haven’t written enough. Plus, there are incredible songs to put out there–and the best ones make me work hard to perform them well. The best covers are the ones that challenge me or help me communicate better with the audience. 
If you could sing for one famous person (alive or dead), who would that be?
I would love to perform with Prince. Not for. With.
If you could sing with one famous band (any time in history), what would that band be?
Duke Ellington’s big band. With Duke himself. No question.


What are your strengths?
Range. Love of all music. Plus, I’m surrounded by musicians who are simply the best in Buffalo. My strengths are the strengths of the group of people around me–Van Taylor, Ron Walker, Tim Webb, Jerry Livingston… the best of the best. Their support and friendship is my greatest strength.
What are your weaknesses?
I try to do too much.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
I have two albums – Blind Faith, and Kissed by Kate. I have a single that was just released – a duet called “Friends First” written by Ron Walker and performed by Lance Diamond… and me. I have three or four albums that I hope to record… all we need is the financing and then I to construct the time!


Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
I’ll be performing in NYC on June 22nd for Army Heritage Day on Governor’s Island, then singing this Wednesday, June 19 at the Hotel Lafayette in the Pan American GRill and Brewery at 6:30pm, and then performing with the George Scott Big Band at Canalside for the Fourth of July.Come on down! 
Anything else?
Yes. Support music. Support music teachers. Support local artists. Demand that clubs and bars pay their artists well. Insist on purchasing the music of the artists who live in your local community. Nothing bothers me more than seeing “popular” bands from outside of WNY receive thousands of dollars to play here in Buffalo, while local legends like Jerry Livingston and Lance Diamond are given a pittance to offer their shows. The regular folk don’t know that’s what happens, but it does. We like to pay big bucks for artists from outside of WNY, but we have extraordinary talent right here in Buffalo. Don’t underestimate what’s in your own backyard. These musicians are the best of the best. I like to think that Buffalonians can come around, and put their dollars down to say “This. This we value. We value you as musicians. We respect what you do. You are important to us. You represent our city in the highest possible way. We support you.”
And last thing–thank you. Thank you to Elias & Pan-American Restaurant & Lafayette Hotel for creating a respectable venue that is focused on great music. Thank you for supporting artists. Thank you for giving them media space and promotion. It’s important. It’s what makes this city worthy of  calling it home.


See more Sounds of Buffalo: Free Henry!Mari McNeilDavey OTheresa QuinnJim BohmChae HawkNikki HicksFlatbedWhiskey ReverbDjambossaWhat would Mingus do?Prime ExampleWill HoltonGenkin PhilharmonicThe Andrew J. Reimers Country Punk ExtravaganzaSuzanne FattaJanice MitchellPoindexterMichael CiviscaMichael Oliver & The Sacred BandSkiffle Minstrels, The Buffalo Tango Orkestra

If you play in a group/band (or solo) here in Buffalo, and have an upcoming gig at a venue(s) in the city, consider sending Buffalo Rising an email requesting to be emailed a Q&A interview that we can then post, along with concert dates. It’s a fun and easy way to get your name in front of another audience that is interested in learning about the local music scene. 

The requirements are:

-You must be living in the Greater Buffalo region… or you must be plotting your return
-You must have a public show coming up in the city of Buffalo, as our focus is the urban landscape
-You must have a photo of the band
-Solo acts are also welcome
-Video is a plus
-CD/Album/poster art is welcome
-Links to Social Media sites are a bonus
-Ability to take accept both praise and/or criticism is a must

It is up to the discretion of Buffalo Rising whether or not to publish the interviews depending on nature of content submitted, or lack thereof. 

Please send requests here. Include “Sounds of Buffalo” in the subject box of the email.

Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

View All Articles by WCPerspective
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