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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”