Division: Contemporary Music
Program: Popular Music
Melissa Manchester, adjunct professor in the popular music program, was born in New York City. After studying songwriting at New York University, she worked as a staff writer at Chappell Music and as a backup singer for Bette Midler, where she performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall, and for sold-out audiences across the country.
Manchester’s music has served to establish her as a compelling singer/songwriter. With Kenny Loggins she co-wrote the radio classic “Whenever I Call You Friend,” and her songs have been recorded by Barbara Streisand, Dusty Springfield, Alison Krauss, Roberta Flack, Johnny Mathis, Kathy Mattea, Peabo Bryson, Cleo Laine, and Barbara Cook, among many others.
Nominated for GRAMMYs in 1978 and 1979, she won the award in 1982 for Best Female Vocalist. In 1980, she became the first artist in the history of the Academy Awards to have two nominated movie themes in a given year—”Through The Eyes Of Love” and “The Promise.”
Manchester has combined her acting and singing talents in starring roles in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s Song And Dance and Music Of The Night, and in a recurring role in the hit television series Blossom and the film For The Boys, released by 20th Century Fox.
In 2010, she co-created and starred in the five-time Ovation Award nominated ballroom dance spectacular Fascinating Rhythms. She has written the musical I Sent A Letter To My Love and composed for Disney’s The Great Mouse Detective and Lady And The Tramp II. Most recently, nine songs were highlighted in the feature film Dirty Girl, including the original theme song “Rainbird” which Manchester recorded and co-wrote with the movie’s star, Mary Steenburgen.
Manchester has received the Governor’s Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Her body of work was a featured exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.