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The Upbeat: Melanie Rutherford

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, October 23, 2009

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Where She’s From: Born in Pontiac, Rutherford graduated from Pontiac Central High School and attended Dillard University in New Orleans on a music scholarship. She resides in Oakland County.

Sound: R&B

Influences: “I like all types of music,” Rutherford says, “but I like Nirvana. I like Ella Fitzgerald. I love the Doors, Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan. I love Simon & Garfunkel; I think they’re the best writers of all time. And Diane Warren is my idol. I love Diane Warren.”

The Write Direction: Rutherford is known more for writing than performing, with credits that include Redman and Method Man, Eric Sermon, Slum Village, Faith Evans, Carl Thomas, Keith Murray, LaKisha Jones and Kem. Writing music, she says, “was my refuge. I come from a very big family, and being from Pontiac, you have to have an outlet. So it was salvation for me. It made me feel complete as a person. My whole purpose is to be creative and to do something different. It’s difficult, but fun.”

The Big Break: Rutherford was an aspiring singer and writer when she attended the 2002 Impact Music Conference in Florida and met Wu Tang Clan member Redman. “He didn’t have a room, so I said he could stay with me in my room. He wound up getting a room at the hotel, but on the last day he saw me. I was hustling and he gave me 30 seconds to sing for him ... and he wrote me a check for five grand and the next week flew me to New York, and the first album I was on was Eric Sermon’s ‘React.’ ”

Career Goal: “My goal is to be known as a great musician and a great humanitarian — but one of my goals is to win a Grammy. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that. But my plan is to make music and change the world; that’s why I don’t limit myself by writing to one genre. I write country music, rock ’n’ roll, whatever pays and gives me the platform to talk about it.”

Hear Her: Rutherford has released two albums, “You’ve Got Me” in 2004 and “Relationships in My Own Words” in 2007. She’s just started recording her next CD with producer Black Milk at his Livonia studio for release in 2010.

See Her: Rutherford performs as part of Soul Lounge IV at 8 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 24) at the Jazz Cafe in the Music Hall Center, 350 Madison Ave., Detroit. Raw Voices and JaVese Cardon also will perform. Tickets are $20 for seats, $10 for standing room. Call (313) 887-8500 or visit www.musichall.org.

Surf Her: www.myspace.com/melanierutherford

Web Site: www.myspace.com/melanierutherford

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