"Melanie Ida Chopko has that precious and rare quality that we long for in our artists… a unique way of seeing. Happily she also has the grace of melody and words to communicate it to us." Rachel Efron, producer & songwriter
“Chopko's lyrics turn her private world and the world at large into vivid cinema. As a performer, she is a disarming stage presence. In this age of solemn introspection beneath the spotlight, how many singer/songwriters would be able - as she recently did - to keep an audience sitting and laughing during a half-hour sound-system shutdown?" —Joe Kornfield, former entertainment critic for the Boston Herald American
"Writing with wit, acuity, grace and a strong personal voice...I expect to see her work presented on a national level." Pauline Uchmanowicz, editor
Melanie Ida Chopko writes and performs, according to one reviewer, "with wit, acuity and grace.” Her songs on guitar and piano feature poetically astute lyrics and melody, and fold together modern folk and blues with a big crush on jazz. In the tradition of the citizen artist, she is as interested in the complexity of the world around her as the one within herself, exploring both with artistry, intimacy and humor. She blurs the line onstage between musician, storyteller/performer and audience, making listeners laugh out loud and then cracking their hearts open.
The EP Yellow Blue Alizarin, is a lyrical exploration of immigration, the human relationship with the natural world, and family. It was a collaboration with six musicians and over 130 donors, and is accompanied by a limited-edition, 7-inch watercolor print.
More of the Story
On Valentines Day in 2006, on her way home from writing classes at The New School in New York City, Melanie Ida Chopko realized she was locked out of her apartment, the subway payphone was broken and it was snowing. Miraculously, she bumped into another student from the floor below at the School for New & Contemporary Music, and got invited to both use their home phone and join a whole new world. Soon she found herself singing along to jazz standards, picking up instruments she had put down since childhood, and closely befriended genre-defying songwriters Jean Rohe and David Moore (Bing and Ruth). She fell in love all over again.
Years later across the country in 2013, Chopko decided against pursuing a second degree, and began curating instead her own “institute of sound" to study songwriting, voice, guitar, and piano with her favorite teachers in the San Francisco Bay Area and Rio de Janeiro, Brasil. She also draws from her own imaginary faculty of inspiration: modern folk writers Anais Mitchell, Bridget Kearney (of Lake Street Dive and Joy Kills Sorrow) and Sam Amidon, and legends like Tom Jobim, Stevie Wonder and Nina Simone. She is a frequent participant of the Oakland based 'Salon' directed by Rachel Efron of the California Conservatory of Music, and will release her debut EP, Yellow Blue Alizarin, in October 2016.
In between songs, Chopko teaches beginner singing for adults at the renown Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, trains in Aikido, and creates watercolors and drawings.
people & projects I love
MUSICIANS & ARTISTS
Andrew Benincasa My dear friend and stunning papercut artist
Crystal Morey - mystical ceramics and sculptural conversations on the non-human world
Diana Gameros Diana is a true-blue songwriter and human being - her Latin pop music bridges her home country of Mexico and the US, and all the conversations in between.
Jean Rohe I've known Jean for over ten years, and I simply love and believe in everything she creates. She is the voice of true artist, with the musicianship to invite us in to listen. I also had the privilege of illustrating for her website and album.
Kate Mink and Dean Stuart, my beloved studiomates at my daily artistic home, The Compound Gallery and Studios
Moorea Dickason One of my most favorite vocalists, music educators and entrepren-artists
Shaina Taub I love Shaina's epic, soulful creations, and her skillful bridging of the blues, musical theatre and beautiful break-my-heart personal songs.
Wendy MacNaughton My watercolor hero
YES! I volunteer each month with YES!, and my life has been transformed by their internationally renown "jams" - residential events exploring the connection between personal, interpersonal and systemic change for a world that works for everyone. Go to their programs, and give them all the money
350.org - Building the global movement for Climate Justice
Charter for Compassion A cooperative effort to restore compassionate action to the center of religious, moral and political life.
Women's Accapella Association Empowering girls and women in music and the music industry
Brainpickings - Maria Popova's stunning digest of curiosity
Joanna Macy - Eco-philosopher and System Thinker, articulating so much of what is happening on a global scale.
Rebecca Solnit - Writer, historian, activist. Everything.