(WatchDogReport.org) – Singer and songwriter Melanie Anne Safka, who had a deep, raspy voice, has died at the age of 76. She was born on February 3, 1947, in Astoria, Queens. In 1969, Melanie was a surprise star at the Woodstock Music Festival. Her charmingly innocent voice made her a number-one hit on the Billboard charts just two years later.
The daughter of Frederick and Pauline (Altomare) Safka, she began singing at a young age and made her television debut on “Live Like a Millionaire” when she was four years old. While a student at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, she took her act to New York’s folk dens.
After signing with Columbia Records and releasing two singles there, she relocated to Buddah Records. At first, she was most popular in Europe, where she made several television appearances; her 1969 French hit “Bobo’s Party” peaked at number one.
A girl who longs for a boy passes his house on her bike and skates in Melanie’s 1971 album “Gather Me,” the title track of which is the song that brought Melanie the most fame. It topped the charts in the United States and several other countries.
As a musical relic of the 1970s, reflecting the vibrant kitschiness and love-the-one-you’re-with carnality of that decade, “Brand New Key” would endure in popular culture and is still played on the radio.
Melanie was just 22 years old when she made her Woodstock appearance, but she was already well-known in the New York folk scene. She and Joan Baez were the only two female performers at the event who sang solo.
A gospel-style backup band, the Edwin Hawkins Singers, helped her record “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” which she wrote after seeing people in the Woodstock audience lighting candles. It was her first single, which peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 upon its 1970 release.
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