b i O G r a p h y
Born in Munich as the daughter of a baltic-prussian painter and a sinto (gypsy) singer- musician, both living in Germany. Melanie was singing ever she can think about. Even as a little child she was making up her own little melodies and lyrics about everything that moved her at the moment and just sang them for herself. Being raised in Tyrol, Austria, she had her first solo performance in a school choire contest at the age of 6. She kept writing her songs over the years, meanwhile on the guitar. With 15 she started out singing in her first band named "Melanie Bong Crew" (MBC). With the MBC, playing only original songs, she had her first successes playing as a warm up band for well known musicians such as Harry Stoijka, Gilberto Gil, Jim Pepper and finally performed before Joe Zawinul and Miles Davis at the 'Jazz Festival Berg Isel 1987' (Innsbruck, Austria). The same year she also decided to move to Graz, Austria. Melanie studied in Graz and New York City with some of the greatest Jazz vocalists of our time - Sheila Jordan, Jay Clayton, Andy Bey and last but not least the great Mark Murphy.
Melanie's first meeting with Sheila Jordan was one that influenced the rest of her life. So she recalls: "The night before I met Sheila for the first time, I had a dream about her. I have never met her before nor seen any picture of Sheila, I did not even know weather she was black or white. In that dream I met Sheila at the first audition at the jazz school in Graz. The next day I went to that audition - by the way, that is also where I met Theo Bleckmann for the first time - so I entered the audition room and the woman I met was just the one I had met in my dream the night before! I mean all of it - even her clothing!"
The relationship between Sheila Jordan and Melanie became more like a family relationship than one between a teacher and her student. "I call Sheila my musical mother because that is exactly what she is to me", Melanie recalls, "I did not know about Jazz and hardly understood english at that point of time, but I always knew from within myself that I could learn a lot about music and life just by spending time with Sheila. So the school had located Sheila into a studentshome for that first semester. The second semester she was looking for another room. I had a nice two room appartment at the time and I offered her to move in with me, so she did. It was a wonderful time! Later on Jay (Clayton) lived with me too. She keeps saying - roommates forever...great, great fun with Jay, always!"
Melanie lived in Tyrol, Graz, Linz, Munich, Frankfurt, Paris and New York City. She visited and toured through Europe, Israel, Palestine and Japan. If you ask her, where she came from, her answer is: "From planet earth with a great love for the Megametropoles New York City and Tokyo as well as for the silence, water and the air of the Austrian Alps. Who am I? I am all of it and I love it. "
"I think I got the temper and music of my father, the arts of my mother and the analytical brain of my german grandmother.
Where is my home? Feeling home everywhere and nowhere is really me. I'd say my music is my home. It is the only thing that has been with me from the very beginning and never left me. I am very, very greatful for that!"
Ever since she has been performing all over Europe and abroad with musicians of the national and international jazz scene such as: Dusko Gojkovic (GER), Johannes Enders (GER), Fritz Pauer (AUT), Charly Antolini (CH), Lulo Reinhardt (GER), Harry Sokal (AUT), Adelhard Roidinger (AUT), David Gazarow (RUS), Javier Malosetti (ARG), Tony Lakatos (GER/H), Hiroshi Minami (JAP), Jay Clayton (USA) and Keith Copeland (USA).
She has been a teacher for jazz singing and ensemble at the Bruckner Conservatory in Linz in the end of the nineties. She gave numerous workshops and courses at home and abroad.
Besides her efforts as a composer and arranger on her first CD "Fantasia" (2002) her last CD "Gypsy Dream" (2006) brought the focus back on her great voice. The national and international press is enthusiastic about her but as well her musicians get special recognition:
“…Melanie Bong is a tremendous singer.” - Bill Donaldson, Cadence USA, jazz magazine.
"Melanie sings with passion and heart …. listen and enjoy!!" - Steve Kuhn
"...Elis Regina had it, Billie Holiday had it, Carmen McRae had it , and now Melanie Bong has it." - William Grim in All About Jazz Online-Magazin USA
"A good voice is distinguishable from a less good one within a few seconds. Melanie Bong has a very good voice. A sample? ‚Gypsies Go To Heaven’, the opener on her second CD has everything to get right to the core..." - Reinhard Köchl, Jazzthing.
"Melanie Bong's songs are as original as her tuneful name, and I'm sure you will get as much pleasure out of her music as I do …. musical beauty flows in and out of this lovely persona …” - Mark Murphy
"She's got it! so listen and enjoy - because here is, as I believe, one of the finest vocalists in Europe today." - Willie Johanns
"Melanie ‘Ziwala’ Bong is dreaming her ‘Gypsy Dream’, and proofes herself once more as an excellent singer, who knows how to use timing, phrasing, dynamics and expression very well, who has warmth and a feeling for good stories…" - Tobias Böcker, Jazzpodium.