After 15 seasons, American Idol has picked its last winner, but how could we forget all of the incredible talent it has brought to the world? The show that launched the careers of now megastars Carrie Underwood and Kelly Clarkson also revealed to us a gentle musical soul, the very sweet and charming vocal powerhouse Melinda Doolittle. MNGBlog was able to speak with her about Idol, new projects, and life since the show.
Melinda's career began when she was in college at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. It was then that she became a backup singer, a profession that gave her the opportunity to sing with artists such as Michael McDonald, CeCe Winans, and Aretha Franklin. When speaking about working with Franklin, one of her biggest musical influences, Melinda told MNGBlog: "She was so generous with her time and her encouragement. I shared a stage that night with Chaka Khan, Lauryn Hill and Cissy Houston...so I feel like Aretha Franklin gave me a once in a lifetime experience that I will remember forever."
As an R&B/soul artist with an old-school approach and electric passion, Melinda's style is reminiscent of some of the genre's greatest performers from whom she takes inspiration. In addition to the legendary Franklin, Doolittle also named Stevie Wonder, Karen Carpenter, and Tina Turner as her musical influences, with seven-time Grammy award-winner Gladys Knight topping that list. "She is my all time favorite," Melinda said.
Doolittle's career as a backup singer came to a hault, though, when she auditioned for the sixth season of American Idol, and boy, was America glad she did! Impressing Simon Cowell from the get-go with her humble charm, Melinda's stunning talent was exposed to an audience of millions on a weekly basis, propelling her into the Top 3. When asked about her time on Idol, she said, "One of my all time favorite moments was singing "Home" [by Diana Ross]. It was the moment it hit me that I was meant to be there. What an experience!"
After leaving Idol, Doolittle recorded her flawless debut album Coming Back to You (2009). Have you heard it? MNGBlog can't get enough of it! Working with producer Mike Mangini, she recorded all the vocals in nine days. NINE DAYS.
The amazing track "If I'm Not in Love" is a moving stand-out on the album, a song that easily could have been recorded by Gladys Knight, while "Fundamental Things" gives us a delicious taste of Tina Turner.
And let's not forget her 30-track, 2-disc album Lift Every Voice: The Historic Songs of James Weldon Johnson. Released in 2013, the project helped raise money for the African American museum that was being built in Nashville while honoring the American poet/songwriter and author of The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. "I was so happy to do it," she said. "James Weldon Johnson is an absolute songwriting genius."
We are anxious to hear some new music from Melinda, and she revealed that she has a special project on the way. "I'm very excited to be working on an upcoming project that is representative of the powerful soul songs that have defined the genre! I'm even more thrilled to be bringing those songs back to the forefront with some of my favorite fellow artists." Can't wait!
Of course, MNGBlog had to ask her what she's currently listening to. Here’s a little glimpse...
MNGBlog: If you could pick one song to listen to for the rest of your life, what would it be?
MD: Oh gosh! That's so hard. Maybe "Midnight Train to Georgia" [by Gladys Knight].
MNGBlog: List some songs on your playlist right now.
MD: "All I Ask"-Adele, "Love on Top"-Beyoncé, "All By Myself"-Celine Dion, "I Feel A Song"-Gladys Knight, "No"-Meghan Trainor, Broadway soundtrack-Hamilton
You can find Melinda on Twitter, live-tweeting while watching her favorite reality shows. And don't forget about that new project she's got in the works! Come back to musicalnotesglobal.com for updates.
Follow Melinda Doolittle on social media:
Facebook: Melinda Doolittle