After eight years of making records, Melanie Dekker is taking a real vacation.
Not the kind of holiday that boils down to Christmas pudding with the family or a weekend skiing getaway at her former stomping ground in Whistler, but a bona fide, cram your carry-on bag under an airplane seat and exchange your Canadian dollars for South African rands getaway that is meant to give this 24-7 songwriting machine a break.
“I’ve taken my Christmas holidays, but nothing like this,” Dekker said of her father-daughter adventure to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa. “It took me a long time to say yes to my dad. I looked for every excuse in the book not to go… When you are independently working for yourself, it’s the hardest thing to take time off like that. But this February, it’s going to be ‘lions and tigers and bears, oh my.’”
But before this Dorothy sets out to conquer the world’s tallest free-standing mountain rise at 5,895 metres, she first has other yellow brick roads to follow, including shows in Germany, Denmark, the U.S. and Canada, and solo shows Oct. 11-13 at the Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau.
“It’s my home away from home,” she said. “I’ll be playing everything. It’s a five-hour set. Do you know those Cheryl Crowe and Willie Nelson best of albums you can get at Starbucks that cover everything? I pretty much just do that live. I’ve got hundreds of favourites to pick from as well as originals. I pretty much do them all. I’ve got three records worth of music.”
One of those albums is Revealed , her premiere studio album produced by Grammy-Award-winning producer David Kershenbaum of Tracy Chapman fame. The record was released last year by Zabit records, a division of Sonoma Mountain Entertainment, with distribution in North America, Europe and the Philippines.
The album launch was as unique and sincere as Dekker’s sound.
To an audience of 3,000 U.S. troops, Dekker launched her album with her single Fall In/Wounded Soldiers at an American Red Cross fundraising concert on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier museum hanger deck. She along with ’80s rocker Greg Kihn and former Santana vocalist Tony Lindsay raised funds to send holiday packages to U.S. troops overseas. And Dekker’s support for the cause continues on. She is pledging $1 from each copy of Revealed sold to the cause. CD Baby decided to match her generosity, pledging an additional $1 for each album sold.
“I’ve become much more tuned into the emotional kick back of what is happening because of war,” she said. “I think there is a definite confusion amongst all of us, that to be a soldier means they are pro war, which is not the case.”
Fall In/Wounded Solider was written after performing at a benefit concert for The National Wounded Solider Foundation in New York. She dictated the song to a friend driving up to Whistler. The title Fall In plays on the military term of soldiers falling into line and falling into the arms of loved ones wishing them home.
Dekker is falling in to a better sense of herself these days as well. Songs such as I Said I charted for 13 weeks on Canada’s mainstream AC Top 50 and landed the #1 indie song spot on Australian music charts for four consecutive weeks. She was named the #1 MP3 artist in Canada, featured songs on the famous soap opera All My Children, and performed with the likes of Diana Krall, Chaka Kahn, Bryan Adams, Faith Hill, Ivan Neville and Bif Naked. So inspired by her songwriting with Revealed , she wasted no time and self-produced her third album, Acoustic Ride .
“I feel like I found my voice by making Revealed ,” she said. “I feel like my songwriting and my singing and playing have finally come to a place where I am expressing myself the way I want to.”
Expressing herself will soon mean retreating from the music industry grind to hike with her dad in Africa.
“I am hoping the trip will influence my music in some way — of course the trip is supposed to have nothing to do with music.”
High ambitions, but not likely for this dedicated individual.