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“Melissa Ellis has long been a staple of our concert music series here at the Cumberland County Playhouse. Her smooth sounds and comic wit keeps our audiences laughing and entertained. It is always our pleasure whenever we are able to get her on to one of our stages, her music fills an outdoor theater setting perfectly…blues under the stars, a perfect way to spend a summer evening.”

Melissa Ellis possesses a voice and style that is unmatched by any other. A vocal power that packs a serious punch, add in her opulent tone and texture reminiscent of jazz’s golden age, her distinctive growl of the blues, and soulful delivery, she has concocted an unforgettable signature blend of blues, jazz, and blue-eyed soul. Her spicy southern drawl is only the cherry on top, but is not to be confused with the idea that she performs country music. She does not do country.

Having dabbled in almost every mainstream music genre out there, the well-rounded Melissa Ellis found her natural talent as a toddler singing gospel in church. Throughout her childhood she dominated vocal competitions singing oldies and pop music until she was signed on as a professional singer/actress/dancer in musical theater at the age of 16. Her first starring role (that she held for six years) was Denise Sanders in the opening season of Smoke on the Mountain at the Cumberland County Playhouse which required her to learn other instruments aside from piano—such as banjo, mandolin, guitar, and bass—and increasing her love of music. She went on to study classical and jazz music at Roane State Community College and Tennessee Technological University as a vocalist while pursuing a short-lived country music career and working in a few regional theater tours. She has yet to try her hand at Rap.

In 2009, Melissa released her debut album Crossville, lending her talent to the world of bluegrass. Her self-penned single, “Crossville,” was adopted by her hometown as the official city song in 2010. While promoting her bluegrass album, she found new inspiration and started writing more original songs. With new songs came a new sound that evolved into a more soulful genre. Melissa’s sophomore album, Just Me, was released in 2011 and as a multi-instrumentalist, the album showcased her musicianship on guitar and piano, as well as some of her original material.

Her latest musical journey, according to Melissa, is where she was “always meant to be”–bringing out the raw, emotional sounds of blues and her love of jazz. Her repertoire includes her original songs mixed with re-imaginings of familiar classics that are presented in fresh new ways. She can typically be seen performing over 100 shows every year throughout the southeast. Notably, in 2018 Melissa landed the opportunity to perform during Nashville’s acclaimed CMAfest—her soulful, southern style among a sea of country twang. She still doesn’t do country.

As well as a seasoned singer/performer, studio musician, and voice instructor, Melissa is also a published author of a paranormal novel, ShadowShifter, and has several other writing projects in the works for the coming years (when she finds the time to finish them). While she could name drop the other artists she’s had the pleasure of sharing a stage with in her career like other artists do, she says her greatest claim to fame is randomly dancing with Gopher from The Love Boat at age 3 in a New Orlean’s mall. Melissa Ellis counts herself fortunate to have a career as a full-time working musician for over 26 years, but feels her greatest blessing is being the wife of her drummer-turned-“real job” business man, Matt, and mother of her four amazing boys. They make their home in East Tennessee.