Melanie Fiona: “Amy Winehouse Was An Open Book”

 Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Paul Loftland Photography

Everybody is still reeling from the shock of  Amy Winehouse's sudden death on July 23. But perhaps most affected, aside from the singer's family and close friends, are those in the music world who were inspired by her talent. Enter my pal Melanie Fiona, who is actually only one degree of separation from Winehouse through their shared producer, Salaam Remi.

I just got Melanie's reaction to the news and a love update while we were discussing her recent headlining gig at Philadelphia's Global Fusion Festival on July 16. Can you tell Us about your performance at the Global Fusion Festival?
Melanie Fiona: I had the craziest day. They cancelled my flight, and it was all kinds of drama. I literally got there and ran onto the stage. When that happens, it's difficult to gain momentum because I am in a rush. There were tons of people and the press was waiting, so it was just a whirlwind. Next thing you know, everyone was like, 'The show was amazing, you were so good,' and I was like, 'What happened? Was I there?'

Us: What do you love most about Philly?
MF: I worked with Questlove in Philly in the past, and I had been to Philly a couple of times for shows and promo. I always have the most amazing time in Philadelphia. Everyone is so welcoming and there is great energy. Every time I've performed there, people have lined up for sold out shows. They are really supportive. You get a real sense that the people of Philadelphia love their city, love their music, and are happy to have people come through. I actually did some recording there for this album with Dre who is Philly-based. Philly always welcomes me with open arms, and I am always excited when I get the news that I'm coming back.
Us: What are your favorite things to do in Philadelphia?
MF: I usually have no off time, as crazy as that sounds. I love to eat Philly Cheesesteaks and other great food. I've recorded music and performed, which is obviously fun, and I love shopping in the downtown area. The small shops and busy streets remind me of Toronto, especially when the weather is nice. It is tough for me to do everything during my time off but I'll do some of those things when I'm there.
Us: What are your favorite cities to tour?
MF: I get to see a lot just through the tour bus or the airport window. I absolutely love Paris. I love it for personal reasons, and I love to perform anywhere in France. I also love to perform in Switzerland. New Orleans, and the Bay Area of San Francisco. London is great for shopping. All of those places show me a lot of love. Every time I go, I have great shows and great times.

Us: When is your second album dropping?
MF: I am releasing a new single later this month. It is a secret but I can tell you I have been in the studio with  Salaam Remi, Jack Splash, Andrea Martin, Rakel Love and The-Dream. I have been able to work with so many amazing songwriters and producers. I have done so much songwriting and have worked hard on it. I now realize that I keep running into love. These songs are a different mood and reflection of love. I am excited for people to hear it because they come high, low, energetic, really somber, and sexy. It is beautiful and I am proud of how it's shaping up. Hopefully I will be releasing it later on this year, depending on how the single goes. I want to put the single out so people can get a feel of what to expect from the album.
Us: Do you have a new love interest yet? The last time we spoke you said you were hopelessly single.

MF: I have definitely met some. I've have experienced some highs and lows of love. I've realized that love is always a struggle; I'm still on the hunt for love, but I'm also still perfecting myself. I am keeping my fingers crossed but hopefully by album three I will be in a really great place.
Us: Have you spoken to Salaam Remi about his work with Amy Winehouse?
MF: I admired Salaam for his contributions and collaborations with some of my favorite artists like Lauryn Hill and Amy Winehouse. I was thrilled to be able to work with him and listen to his stories about Amy. When he shared his experience working with Amy I felt even closer to her. Even though I never met her and I was unable to experience her life, I feel that I truly knew her through her music. It has to do with the power of her music and it can touch people. It's really tough. It sounds crazy but I feel like I lost someone I knew. It hurts when it is someone who inspired you and affected you.
Us: What kinds of things did he tell you about her?
MF: She was an absolute open book when it came to her experiences. She made music and just let loose and said how she felt and that was so inspiring to hear. I think that's why so many people appreciated what she did, because it was just so honest. They were like, 'Did she really just say that? Did she just curse? Did she use names? Get specific? Call people out?' She absolutely did and she had a raw factor that I loved about her. I loved the work Taylor Griffiths did for Amy, which is why I wanted to work with him on "Bang Bang." On many levels, she was an inspiration to me. It was a profound loss.

Us: Now that you are co-managed by Roc Nation. Have you gotten any pointers from Jay-Z?
MF: He definitely has expressed he's a fan. He came to my first real industry showcase in New York at the Canal Room. I didn't know he was coming and he was really impressed. He said, 'I had no idea that's what you came with on stage.' We had done some things with the Kanye West tour and when they approached me to co-manage, it was cool to get that stamp of approval. He wanted me to do three songs for The Rocawear Campaign and have a billboard in Times Square. It's been cool to have someone like that in my career, especially with all that he's accomplished. He's a great example.

By Ian Drew for Us Weekly. To read more of Ian's blog, click here.

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