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Melissa Vaughan writes hopeful, heartfelt piano ballads reminiscent of Norah Jones by way of Tori Amos. “My songs have a lot of genres all crumpled together,” she says. “I have some jazz, some folk, some circus sounds, and a lot of songs kind of float between styles. It’s mostly just mellow music, and the lyrics are usually a bit tongue-in-cheek.”

Born and raised in Texas and Oklahoma, Vaughan says she was about seven when she composed her first song. “It was in my great aunt’s basement, in Tishomingo, Oklahoma…. My family taught me to appreciate the important things in life: music, reading, expressing yourself creatively, and basements, which are where most important things begin.”

After moving to San Diego with little more than a guitar to her name, Vaughan says, “I took a break from doing anything musical for about two years, except for having the occasional hoedown in my living room.” She bought her first piano at a yard sale in 2005 and began writing songs centered around that instrument. Now she can be found performing solo sets around town and throughout Southern California, usually at coffeehouses and open-mike nights.

“I’m just thoroughly content [to be a musician],” she says. “This is my dream.”

Melissa Vaughan’s self-titled debut album is available on iTunes, CD Baby, and myspace.com/melissavaughan.

WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?

1. Dido, Life for Rent. “She makes a long road trip danceable.”

2. Once (soundtrack). “The songs are all so raw, and I love the sound of the acoustic guitar and the way that they use it.”

3. “I’ve always got various soundtracks from the movies, like The Painted Veil, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Letters from Iwo Jima. Great music doesn’t need lyrics.”

MUST-HAVE DVDs?

1. To Kill a Mockingbird. “One of the best movies ever made, and Gregory Peck is the god of all actors. Well, besides Paul Newman, of course.”

2. Beauty and the Beast. “This has been my favorite cartoon since I was seven.”

3. Ponette. “This story about what goes on in the mind of a four-year-old girl is the one and only movie that makes me cry every time I watch it, but in a good way.”

4. Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. “Creepy, creepy, creepy, cool.”

MAGAZINE SUBSCRIPTIONS?

1. Elle. “It’s saturated with ads for perfume, which I smell every time, plus it sometimes has insightful articles. Perfumed articles, but insightful.”

2. Fitness. “This magazine works as an incentive program for me because it makes me feel really bad about eating fast food.”

MOST-VISITED WEBSITES?

1. Twitter.com. “I just found out about it last weekend, at the behest of a friend. It looks like it’s probably the easiest and quickest form of online communication. So far.”

2. Homestarrunner.com. “This site has hours of entertaining stuff that has nothing to do with anything, which is what’s great about it.”

3. T-tapp.com. “They have some awesome exercises that I do to keep fit, along with forums covering all kinds of healthy do’s and don’ts.”

FIVE GUILTY PLEASURES?

1. “Sunbathing. I know it’s horrible for me, but I do it anyway.”

2. “Godiva Chocolate and Godiva Nut and Caramel assortments.”

3. “Bumble and Bumble hair products, which are totally unnecessary but very luxurious.”

4. “Sleeping in until one o’clock on a Saturday afternoon when I’ve gone to bed as early as 9 p.m. the night before.”

5. “Anything made of silk, satin, or lace.”

WORST JOBS?

1. “I once worked as a certified nursing assistant student at a nursing home. It was difficult because I always got way too attached to residents who then passed away.”

2. “When I had a job at Bath & Body Works, I loved the people, but the intensity of the fragrances made me dizzy all the time.”

SOMETHING IMPOSSIBLE TO DO WITHOUT?

“My cell phone, although I almost never answer it. I like having it handy, in case something happens. I guess I’m a little paranoid sometimes.”

FIRST BOOK YOU REMEMBER READING?

Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.”

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU FEW WOULD KNOW OR GUESS?

“The first car I ever drove for transportation was a 15-passenger white van.”

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Comments

Jay Allen Sanford Dec. 11, 2008 @ 5:32 a.m.

Outtakes:

BIGGEST POLITICAL CONCERN? “That people don't educate themselves about real world situations. Instead, they tend to base their support and decisions on guilt and popularity, ignoring any ensuing problems that inevitably arise.”

MAC OR PC? “Mac, because it helps me get my work done, musically and when I’m working with photographs.”

Melissa's photography website: http://www.melissaVportraits.com

Music Website: http://www.melissavaughan.com

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calia2222 Dec. 18, 2008 @ 10:26 a.m.

Gorgeous woman! Love her voice and vibes. Good at a live show, too. XO

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luvscasey Dec. 18, 2008 @ 10:36 a.m.

BIG VANS ROCK. Haha thats pretty funny I have to admit. Listened to your music, it's really good. My friends have heard you live and I guess I should probably get out and see you too. I love Elle, by the way! :)

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candaceoagon Dec. 18, 2008 @ 1:10 p.m.

awsome chick! just as crazy funny at shows as she sounds here. gotta see her in person. words just don't describe it...=0P

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colorsfade Dec. 18, 2008 @ 1:50 p.m.

I love these kinds of interviews. Melissa, you are just as interesting as your unique music suggests! Love it.

And sunbathing is definitely one of my guilty pleasures too...

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Cathrynbeeks Dec. 19, 2008 @ 11:26 a.m.

Beautiful, talented girl. Besides being an amazing songstress, she's an artist of the highest order, her art is YOU. She'll paint you, sculpt you and capture you through her lense in a way you've never seen yourself. She's brilliant and I adore her. Check out her work on my facebook! Cathryn Beeks

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mohowe Dec. 19, 2008 @ 3:57 p.m.

Melissa's music makes me laugh... makes me cry... and makes me bob my head & sing along! It's always soulful and filled with meaning. Even after listening to her CD a gazillion times (that's a number, right?) there's still some subtleties that I'm just now noticing. Not only is she an amazing singer/songwriter/pianist.. but her photography is amazing! She was able to make me comfortable in front of the camera, which was never an easy task before. Every image captured is one that you'll want to cherish and show off for years to come. Her friendship tops it all off! Her personality, intellect, and always varying guilty pleasures are truly unique. If you haven't talked with, listened to, or had your picture taken by her, you're truly missing out!

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maddyjune Dec. 19, 2008 @ 9:35 p.m.

melissa vaughan is so awesome! i heard her in a coffee shop in sd and got so hooked. her music is so peaceful and uplifting. i have bought literally 7 copies of her cd because i really think that everyone i know will like her as much as i do. also, she is a really cool person and inspired me to get rain boots.

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tovias17 Dec. 21, 2008 @ 1:07 p.m.

melissa vaughn's self tittled album truly is as heart warming as the holidays, very few artist sound the same or even better live than on record and melissa is the complete package. Its no wonder her new album is much anticipated, her new song "the Stage" just might be the new "Stairway to Heaven" for pianist everywhere

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