Melissa Manchester

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Melissa Manchester
Manchester in concert (2009)
Manchester in concert (2009)
Background information
Born (1951-02-15) February 15, 1951 (age 70)
New York City, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
  • Vocals
  • piano
Years active1971–present
Associated acts

Melissa Manchester (born February 15, 1951)[1] is an American singer, songwriter and actress. Since the 1970s, her songs have been carried by adult contemporary radio stations. She has also appeared on television, in films, and on stage.

Life and career[edit]

Melissa Manchester, 1973

Manchester was born in the Bronx, a borough of New York City,[1] to a musical family. Her father was a bassoonist for the New York Metropolitan Opera. Her mother was one of the first women to design and found her own clothing firm, Ruth Manchester Ltd. The Manchesters are of Jewish origin.[2] Manchester started a singing career at an early age. She learned the piano and harpsichord at the Manhattan School of Music, began singing commercial jingles at age 15, and became a staff writer at age 17 for Chappell Music while attending Manhattan's High School of Performing Arts.[3]

She studied songwriting at New York University with Paul Simon when she was 19. Manchester played the Manhattan club scene, where Barry Manilow, a friend and fellow jingle singer introduced her to Bette Midler. In 1971 she became a member of the Harlettes, the back-up singers for Midler, which she co-created with Manilow.[3]

Manchester made a brief speaking appearance as "Yoko Ono" on the 1972 album National Lampoon Radio Dinner, on the track titled "Magical Misery Tour", and as the singer in "Deteriorata".[4]

Her debut album, Home to Myself, was released in 1973; Manchester co-wrote many of its songs with Carole Bayer Sager. Two years later, Manchester's album Melissa produced her first top-ten hit, "Midnight Blue", which enjoyed 17 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The song's peak position was #6 for the week of August 9, 1975.[5]

In 1974, she performed the songs "O Heaven" and "Home to Myself" on the pilot episode of Ms. magazine's television show, Woman Alive!, a feminist program.[6] She also performed the song live on Burt Sugarman's television series Midnight Special in 1974.

Manchester appeared with Richie Havens, Melanie, and Frankie Valli as a contributor and performer in the 1977 NBC special documentary How the Beatles Changed the World. Manchester collaborated with Kenny Loggins to co-write Loggins' 1978 hit duet with Stevie Nicks, "Whenever I Call You 'Friend'".[3] She would later record this for her 1979 Melissa Manchester album. She guest-starred on the CBS-TV daytime soap opera Search for Tomorrow to teach a main character (played by Michael Nouri), who played a singer-songwriter, the essentials of the craft. In 1979, Manchester reached #10 with her version of Peter Allen's "Don't Cry Out Loud", for which she received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance.

In 1979, she performed two nominated songs on the Academy Awards show: "I'll Never Say Goodbye" (from The Promise) and "Through the Eyes of Love" (theme song from Ice Castles).[7] The winning song that year was "It Goes Like It Goes", from Norma Rae.[8]

In 1980, she appeared on The Muppet Show.

In 1982, she released the smash "You Should Hear How She Talks About You", which won the 1983 Grammy for Best Pop Female Vocal Performance,[3] beating out Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John, Juice Newton, and Laura Branigan. The song itself reached #4 in Cash Box[9] and #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart[10] as well as #10 Adult Contemporary.[11]

In 1985, she signed with MCA Records and released the album Ma+hematics.

Manchester continued to place singles on the Adult Contemporary charts throughout the 1980s. Another top-ten entry on the AC chart was a 1989 updating of Dionne Warwick's "Walk on By".[12] The single was pulled from her Mika/Polygram album Tribute, which honored some of the singers that influenced her style. In 1992 she sang the title song for the animated musical Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland, written by the Sherman Brothers and accompanied by the London Symphony Orchestra.[13]

In 1995, she released the album If My Heart Had Wings on the Atlantic Records label.

She appeared as herself during a two-day guest appearance on the ABC-TV daytime drama General Hospital to sing the song[14] for Robin Scorpio and her AIDS-afflicted boyfriend Stone Cates.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Manchester alternated recording with acting, appearing with Bette Midler in the film For the Boys, on the television series Blossom,[3] and co-writing (with bookwriter-lyricist Jeffrey Sweet) and starring in the musical I Sent a Letter to My Love based on the Bernice Rubens novel of the same name. In 1990, Manchester could be heard performing "I Wish I Knew", played over the opening credits of the CBS television drama The Trials of Rosie O'Neill. In addition, she opened Game 6 of the 1991 World Series singing the U.S. National Anthem.[15]

Manchester composed and recorded the soundtrack to the direct-to-video Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (2001).[16]

In 2004, Manchester returned with her first album in nine years, When I Look Down That Road. While touring to support the album, she was praised for her still "powerful voice" and for "reinventing [herself] while staying true to what made [her] popular."[17]

In April 2007, she returned to theater, starring in the Chicago production of HATS! The Musical, a show to which she and Sharon Vaughn contributed two songs. Also in 2007, she recorded a duet with Barry Manilow as a cover of the Carole King classic "You've Got a Friend" on Manilow's The Greatest Songs of the Seventies. In 2008, Manchester released a new single, "The Power of Ribbons", to digital retailers. Proceeds of the single benefit breast cancer research.[18]

In 2011 an independent film named Dirty Girl was released with many of Manchester's songs used throughout the film, five of which made it onto the soundtrack. Manchester made a non-speaking cameo appearance as the pianist who accompanies the lead character's rendition of "Don't Cry Out Loud".[19]

In 2013, Manchester announced that she was recording her 20th studio album, You Gotta Love the Life, her first since When I Look Down That Road. She subsequently launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to independently release the album.[20]

In an interview with NPR, Manchester talks about the crowd-funding experience and relays the back-story behind the single, "Feelin' for You". A drunk in a juke joint approached Manchester and asked if she was married, to which she replied, "Yes, very happily." The drunk replied, "Too bad, cause I got a feelin' for you."[21] "Feelin' for You", written by Manchester and Sara Niemietz, includes a solo by Keb' Mo'. The single was released on January 9, 2015, and premiered at #2 on the Smooth jazz charts.[22][23] You Gotta Love the Life was released on February 10, 2015,[24] and hit #17 on the Billboard Jazz Albums chart for the week of February 28, 2015.[25]

A second single, "Big Light", featuring a duet with Al Jarreau along with an accompanying music video, was released for radio on June 15, 2015.[26]

In 2017, more than 25 years after Melissa released Tribute, her 1989 album that honored the great female singers who influenced her, she turned the tables with The Fellas, a radiant encomium to the men, including Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Tony Bennett, Dean Martin, and Johnny Mathis, and the iconic songs they made famous. This was Melissa's second independently produced studio album and she was accompanied by the incomparable Blue Note Orchestra from Citrus College in Glendora, CA, where she is artist-in-residence. There was only one duet on the album, 'For Me and My Gal', performed with her long-time friend and fellow musical artist, Barry Manilow.

During the pandemic of 2020, Melissa kept busy working on her 24th album, RE:VIEW, a reenvisioned and reworked compilation of several of her previous hits. She released just one song per month with its accompanying video, which addressed the political and social climates of the time. The complete album is planned for a Fall 2021 release via CD and streaming services.

In 2021, she returned to playing club dates, though mainly telling stories and singing just a few songs of her catalog. During one such performance in which she shared the stage with Michael Feinstein, Melissa was surprised by Feinstein and Songbook Foundation Executive Director Christopher Lewis with the Songbook Hall of Fame's New Standard Award. While presenting her with the award, Feinstein said, "Among the awards we present each year is the New Standard Award, which is presented to a songwriter or performer who continues to write and perform music that will stand the test of time and become the pop standards of tomorrow. I can't think of anyone who fits that description more than Melissa Manchester. Her music has touched the lives of so many people over the years. Her songs – many of which we heard tonight – have become standards and are part of the fabric of our lives."

Awards and recognitions[edit]

  • In 1980, "Through The Eyes of Love" (from the Ice Castles original soundtrack) and "I'll Never Say Goodbye" (from The Promise) were nominated for Academy Awards.
  • Grammy Award: "You Should Hear How She Talks About You" (1982) (Best Female Pop Vocal Performance).[3][27]
  • Manchester received the Governor's Award from the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences for her contributions to the music & recording arts.[28]
  • Her body of work to date as a singer/songwriter was a featured exhibit at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum.[28]
  • Manchester is an adjunct professor at the USC Thornton School of Music.[28]
  • Manchester presented "The Sonic Thermal" at TEDxRiverside explaining her lifelong focus on both random and composed melodies and the back-story behind her first crowd-funded album.[29]
  • Melissa was surprised by Feinstein and Songbook Foundation Executive Director Christopher Lewis with the Songbook Hall of Fame's New Standard Award for her contributions to The American Songbook and her timeless music on May 15, 2021.


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

  • 1983: Greatest Hits – US #43, AUS #98[30]
  • 1984: The Many Moods of Melissa Manchester
  • 1996: Best Selection (Japan release)
  • 1997: The Essence of Melissa Manchester
  • 2001: Midnight Blue: Encore Collection
  • 2004: Platinum & Gold Collection
  • 2013: Playlist: The Very Best of Melissa Manchester
  • 2017: Through The Eyes Of Love: The Complete Arista 7" Singles – 2CD set

Songs featured on soundtrack albums and various artist compilations[edit]

  • 1979: "I'll Never Say Goodbye", from the motion picture soundtrack for The Promise
  • 1979: "Through the Eyes of Love", from the motion picture soundtrack for Ice Castles – US #179
  • 1984: "Your Place or Mine", from the motion picture soundtrack for A Little Sex
  • 1984: "Thief of Hearts", from Thief of Hearts soundtrack – US #179
  • 1986: "The Music of Goodbye" (duet with Al Jarreau), from Out of Africa soundtrack
  • 1986: "Sittin' on a Dream" from The Money Pit soundtrack
  • 1986: "Let Me Be Good to You", from Disney's The Great Mouse Detective
  • 1992: Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland
  • 1996: Stand in the Light, duet with Tats Yamashita on Tatsuro Yamashita-Cozy – Japan #15
  • 2003: "Treasure", from Once in a Lifetime-Mayo Okamoto
  • 2007: "I Know Who I Am", sung by Leona Lewis on For Colored Girls & The Butler
  • 2011: "Rainbird", original song from Dirty Girl


Year Single Chart Positions Album
US US AC Various
1967 "Beautiful People"
b/w "A Song for You"
Single only
1973 "Never Never Land"
b/w "Be Happy Now" (from Home to Myself)
Single only
1974 "O Heaven (How You've Changed Me) (single remix)"
b/w "Inclined"
#112 (CASHBOX Looking Ahead) Bright Eyes
1975 "Midnight Blue"
b/w "I Got Eyes"
6 1 #78 (Australia)
#5 (Canada)
"Just Too Many People"
b/w "This Lady's Not Home Today"
30 2 #49 (Canada)
1976 "Just You and I"
b/w "Sing Sing Sing"
27 3 #63 (Canada) Better Days and Happy Endings
"Better Days"
b/w "My Sweet Thing"
71 9 #84 (Canada)
"Happy Endings (single edit)"
b/w "Rescue Me"
"Rescue Me"
b/w "Happy Endings"
"Monkey See, Monkey Do"
b/w "So's My Old Man"
Help Is on the Way
1977 "Be Somebody"
b/w "Dirty Work"
"I Wanna Be Where You Are (single mix)"
b/w "No One's Ever Seen This Side of Me"
1978 "Don't Cry Out Loud"
b/w "We Had This Time"
10 9 #57 (Australia)
#9 (Canada)
Don't Cry Out Loud
1979 "Through the Eyes of Love
(Theme from Ice Castles) (single mix)"
b/w "Such a Morning"
76 13 #87 (Canada) Ice Castles (Original Soundtrack) & Don't Cry Out Loud (Single Mix)
"Pretty Girls"
b/w "All in the Sky Above"
39 26 #80 (Canada) Melissa Manchester
1980 "Fire in the Morning"
b/w "Lights of Dawn"
32 8 #89 (Canada)
"If This Is Love"
b/w "Talk"
102 19 For the Working Girl
"Lovers After All"
feat. Peabo Bryson
b/w "Happier Than I've Ever Been"
54 25
"Without You"
b/w "Boys In The Backroom"
1982 "Race to the End"
b/w "Long Goodbyes" (Non-LP track)
Hey Ricky
"You Should Hear How She Talks About You"
b/w "Long Goodbyes" (Non-LP track)
5 10 #4 (Australia)
#5 (Canada)
#20 (New Zealand)
#8 Billboard Dance Chart
"Hey Ricky (You're a Low-Down Heel)"
b/w "Come in from the Rain" (1982 Version)
1983 "Nice Girls"
b/w "Hey Ricky"
42 22 Greatest Hits
"My Boyfriend's Back"
b/w "Looking For The Perfect Aah"
33 #48 (Australia)
"No One Can Love You More Than Me"
b/w "White Rose"
78 34 #75 (Australia) Emergency
"I Don't Care What the People Say"
b/w "Emergency"
1984 "Thief Of Hearts"
b/w "Thief Of Hearts" (instrumental)
86 18 #14 Billboard Dance Chart Thief of Hearts (Soundtrack)
1985 "Ma+hema+ics"
b/w "So Full of Yourself" (Non-LP track)
written by Manchester
74 Ma+hema+ics
b/w "So Full of Yourself"
"Just One Lifetime"
(Barbra Streisand's wedding song)
b/w "So Full of Yourself"
1986 "The Music of Goodbye"
(with Al Jarreau)
b/w "Have You Got A Story For Me?" John Barry (composer)
16 #75 (UK) Out of Africa (Soundtrack)
1989 "Walk On By"
b/w To Make You Smile Again (1989 Version)
6 Tribute
1995 "In a Perfect World" If My Heart Had Wings
"Here to Love You"
2004 "After All This Time" When I Look Down That Road
b/w "Treasure" (Non-CD track)
"Angels Dancing"
2006 "My Christmas Song for You" # 21 Canadian Pop Adult (BDS) Platinum Christmas, Vol. 3
2008 "The Power of Ribbons" Single only
2011 "You've Got a Friend" (Long Version) Barry Manilow Duets
2011 "Rainbird" Dirty Girl (Soundtrack)
2013 "I Know Who I Am" (Live) For Colored Girls (2010) & The Butler (2013) (Soundtracks) sung by Leona Lewis & Playlist: The Very Best of Melissa Manchester
"Be My Baby" Single only
2014 "Two Courageous Hearts"
(The Remixes by Mig & Mike Rizzo)
#1 King of Spins
Dance Chart
Single only
2015 "Feelin' for You"
feat. Keb' Mo'
#2 Smooth Jazz[23] You Gotta Love the Life
"Big Light"
feat. Al Jarreau[26]
"Open Spaces & Gas Stations"
written with James Collins
Single only
2016 "Let There Be More Light" Single only
2017 "Ain't That A Kick In The Head" The Fellas[32]
"For Me and My Gal"
(video) feat. Barry Manilow[32]
2018 "A Better Rainbow" Single only
2020 "Just You And I Single only
2020 "Midnight Blue Single only
2020 "Don't Cry Out Loud Single only
2021 "You Should Hear How She Talks About You Single only
2021 "Covid-19 Blues with Tony Orlando Single only
2021 "Fire In The Morning Single only
2021 "You Can’t Hide The Light” duet with Johnny Schaefer Single only

Guest appearances[edit]

Year Song Title Artist Album
1972 "Deteriorata", "Magical Misery Tour" National Lampoon Radio Dinner
1977 "They Never Met" Martin Mull I'm Everyone I've Ever Loved
1978 "A Half Hour of Heaven (and Eight Hours of Sleep)" Martin Mull Sex & Violins
1990 "Making Every Moment Count" Peter Allen Making Every Moment Count
1996 "Stand in the Light" Tatsuro Yamashita Cozy
2000 "A Mother and Father's Prayer" Collin Raye Counting Sheep
2002 "Never Let Me Go" Michael Feinstein Livingston & Evans Songbook
2008 "You've Got a Friend" Barry Manilow Greatest Songs of the 70's
2010 "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" & "What You Won't Do for Love" (not released yet) Juice Newton Duets: Friends & Memories
2018 "A Fine Romance" Oleg Frish Duets With My American Idols 2019 "I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm" Keb' Mo' Moonlight, Mistletoe & You


Manchester appeared on the Blossom television series as Maddy Russo, from 1993 to 1995. She played Corrine in the feature film For the Boys (1991) and the piano teacher in Dirty Girl (2010). In addition to live performances as herself, Manchester composes and performs songs and has done character voice in animated works.[33]

Selected feature film titles[33][34]
Year Title Capacity
1978 The Promise Songwriter
1980 The Music of Melissa Manchester Performance
1984 The Last Starfighter Songwriter
1986 The Great Mouse Detective Songwriter, Voice of Miss Kitty Mouse
1991 For the Boys Actor
1992 Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland Musical Performer
1993 Precious Moments: Simon the Lamb Duet with James Ingram – "The Brightest Star"
1998 Precious Moments: Timmy's Special Delivery Reprise of duet with James Ingram – "The Brightest Star"
2001 Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure Songwriter
2010 Michel Legrand & Friends: 50 Years of Music and Movies Performance
2010 Dirty Girl Actor
2010 For Colored Girls Songwriter – "I Know Who I Am"


  1. ^ a b Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1599. ISBN 0-85112-939-0.
  2. ^ "Singer Melissa Manchester views Judaism 'as a gift'". The Canadian Jewish News. February 10, 2011. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Huey, Steve. "Melissa Manchester: Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  4. ^ "Recordings: National Lampoon Radio Dinner". Mark's Very Large National Lampoon Site. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  5. ^ "The Hot 100: Week of August 9, 1975". Billboard Magazine. August 9, 1975. Archived from the original on April 4, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2015.
  6. ^ "Feminini-TV" (June 1974). Texas Monthly.
  7. ^ "Melissa Manchester". Mount Dora Music Fest. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  8. ^ "1979 Best Original Song – That Time Norma Rae Squashed Kermit". The Awards Connection. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "CASH BOX Top 100 Singles". z98FM. Retrieved June 30, 2017.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "Melissa Manchester – Chart history". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  11. ^ "Melissa Manchester – Chart history". Billboard Magazine. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  12. ^ "Melissa Manchester". AllMusic. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  13. ^ "Original Soundtrack Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland". AllMusic. Archived from the original on January 29, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  14. ^ "Melissa Manchester". A&U Magazine. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  15. ^ "1991 World Series". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  16. ^ "cast-crew for Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure on AllMovie Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure (2001)". AllMovie. Archived from the original on January 29, 2015. Retrieved January 29, 2015.
  17. ^ Andrew Druckenbrod, Music Review: Melissa Manchester's reinvented music still true to her early work, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 16, 2004
  18. ^ "Melissa Manchester". Growing Bolder. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  19. ^ "Melissa Manchester Contributes Nine Songs to Dirty Girl Soundtrack, Including One Written With Mary Steenburgen". VVN Music. Retrieved June 30, 2017.
  20. ^ Melissa Manchester, You Gotta Love the Life, Indiegogo, August 19, 2013.
  21. ^ Feinstein, Michael (January 16, 2015). "Melissa Manchester on Song Travels". NPR. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  22. ^ Hoges, Linda (July 8, 2015). "BWW Interviews: Grammy-Winning Singer/Songwriter Melissa Manchester Comes to Feinstein's This Weekend". Archived from the original on July 12, 2015. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  23. ^ a b Holleran, Scott (January 22, 2015). "Music Review: Melissa Manchester, You Gotta Love the Life". Scott Holleran. Archived from the original on February 8, 2015. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  24. ^ "YOU GOTTA LOVE THE LIFE: NEW SINGLE GOING FOR ADDS JAN 19, 2015". Melissa Manchester. Archived from the original on January 21, 2015. Retrieved January 21, 2015.
  25. ^ "Jazz Albums: Week of February 28, 2015". Billboard Magazine. February 28, 2015. Archived from the original on February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.
  26. ^ a b Gaug, Andrew (June 12, 2015). "Melissa Manchester returns with new jazz album". News-Pressnow. Retrieved June 13, 2015.
  27. ^ "Melissa Manchester: Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  28. ^ a b c "Melissa Manchester: Adjunct Professor". USC THORNTON SCHOOL OF MUSIC. Archived from the original on January 16, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  29. ^ "The Sonic Thermal | Melissa Manchester". TEDx. December 19, 2014. Retrieved July 12, 2015.
  30. ^ a b c d Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 190. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  31. ^ "GRAMMY WINNER MELISSA MANCHESTER'S DAUMAN MUSIC SMASH "TWO COURAGEOUS HEARTS" HITS THE SUMMIT AT DANCE RADIO SURVEY "KING OF SPINS"!". Dauman Music. November 13, 2013. Archived from the original on March 2, 2015. Retrieved March 2, 2015.
  32. ^ a b Vitoulis, Alex (September 12, 2017). "Melissa Manchester & Barry Manilow's 'For Me and My Gal' Video: Watch". Billboard. Archived from the original on September 12, 2017. Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  33. ^ a b "Melissa Manchester: Filmography". The New York Times.
  34. ^ "Melissa Manchester". AllMovie. Retrieved September 5, 2015.

External links[edit]