||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (August 2011)|
|Birth name||Melissa Crystal O'Neil|
|Born||July 12, 1988|
|Origin||Calgary, Alberta, Canada|
|Labels||Sony Music Canada (2005-2007)|
|Associated acts||Ryan Malcolm, Kalan Porter, Eva Avila, Brian Melo|
O'Neil was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, and attended Terry Fox Junior High School before studying at Lester B. Pearson High School. Prior to her Canadian Idol experience, she had worked at a daycare centre, and had also been involved in local musical theatre productions. Her maternal grandfather gave her a Chinese name (Chinese: 奧詩敏; Cantonese Yale: Ou Sīmáhn).
Canadian Idol 2005
In early 2005, O'Neil auditioned for the third season of Canadian Idol. The judges were impressed by her vocals and she made it through to the top 100 round. On the first day, she sang the song "Concrete Angel" by Martina McBride a cappella and again impressed the judges, but on the final day of competition, she forgot the words to her chosen song and froze on-stage. Nevertheless, the judges were still so impressed by her singing abilities that she continued to the top 32. After scoring the highest number of votes in her semi-final group, again with "Concrete Angel", O'Neil was granted a place in the final 10 of the contest.
Although she was highly praised by the judges, O'Neil suffered huge setbacks in the top 10 and top 9 weeks of the finals, as she was in both the bottom three and bottom two respectively. Shocked by this, the judges urged viewers to vote for contestants like Melissa, who clearly had the best vocal abilities. From then on, O'Neil never fell back into the bottom three after delivering consistently praised performances, and judge Zack Werner declared that she was "a threat to win the whole thing". On September 7, 2005, O'Neil made it into the final two of the competition, alongside Rex Goudie, and after yet more stunning performances, judge Zack Werner famously stated that the headlines of the next day's newspapers would be "The Prince [Kalan Porter] is dead, long live the Queen." During the grand finale results show on September 14, 2005, O'Neil was crowned the third Canadian Idol and the first female winner, defeating Goudie.
Canadian Idol performances
|Audition||Contestant's Choice||"If I Ain't Got You"||Alicia Keys||Selected|
|Top 200||Contestant's Choice||"On My Own"||Les Mis Cast||Advanced|
|Top 32||Contestant's Choice||"Concrete Angel"||Martina McBride||Advanced|
|Top 10||Canadian Hits||"Believe in You"||Amanda Marshall||Bottom 3|
|Top 9||Steve Wonder Songs||"Living for the City"||Stevie Wonder||Bottom 2|
|Top 8||Songs of the 1980s||"Holding Out for a Hero"||Bonnie Tyler||Safe|
|Top 7||Big Band Hits||"It's Delovely"||Ella Fitzgerald||Safe|
|Top 6||Classic Rock Week||"Alone"||Heart||Safe|
|Top 5||Songs of the Guess Who||"My Own Way to Rock"||Burton Cummings"||Safe|
|Top 4||Songs of Elvis||"A Little Less Conversation"
"You'll Never Walk Alone"
|Top 3||Hits of BNL||"The Old Apartment
"When I Fall"
|The Barenaked Ladies||Safe|
|Top 2||Contestant's Choice||"Angel of the Morning"
"A Broken Wing"
Favorite Song Sung
|"The Devil Went Down to Georgia" with Rex Goudie & Kalan Porter
"Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)"
2005-2006: Melissa O'Neil
Immediately after her win on Canadian Idol, O'Neil received a congratulatory phone call from the Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. She then signed a recording contract with Sony BMG Canada and released her first single "Alive", which hit stores on October 4, 2005 and debuted at number one on the Canadian singles chart, a position it held for four weeks. The single went on to be certified four-times platinum by the CRIA
Her self-titled debut album Melissa O'Neil, was released on November 22, 2005 and debuted at number sixteen on the Canadian albums chart. The second single from her album, "Let It Go" was released in late 2005 and peaked at number seven on the singles chart. On February 7, 2006, O'Neil embarked on her first solo tour in North Bay, Ontario, named the 'Let It Go Tour' after her second single. Her support act was her Canadian Idol runner-up, Rex Goudie. The third single release from O'Neil's album was "Speechless", which peaked number thirty-one, significantly lower than her two previous songs but still respectable nonetheless. In March 2006, her debut album was certified gold by the CRIA for 50,000 units shipped, and her first single "Alive" was covered by Becki Ryan in the movie Flicka. On September 16, 2006 O'Neil returned to the Canadian Idol stage during grand finale of its fourth season. Here she was surprised with the certified gold presentation disc of her debut album.
On April 1, 2007, O'Neil attended the annual Juno Awards, where she was nominated for Best New Artist. Ironically, one of the other nominees was her Canadian Idol successor, Eva Avila. However, Tomi Swick took home the award. Since then, O'Neil stated that she was working on her second studio album, which she aims to illustrate her full musical aspirations, and allow her to grow as an independent, imaginative artist. She starred in the musical of Dirty Dancing in Toronto, Ontario as a featured singer. She then played the role of Gabriella in High School Musical On Stage with Drayton Entertainment in St. Jacobs and Penetanguishene and was featured as a lead in the Stage West Calgary production of "British Invasion", alongside former lead singer of The Guess Who, Terry Hatty. O'Neil made her Stratford Shakespeare Festival debut during the 2011 season as Martha/Maid by the Fire in Jesus Christ Superstar and she made an appearance in Camelot. She most recently played Eponine in a sit-down production of Les Misérables in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theatre, which ran from September 2013 through February 2014. O'Neil is currently serving as both a member of the ensemble and an understudy the role of Eponine in the Broadway revival of Les Miserables, which opened March 2014.
The following is a complete discography of every album and single released by Canadian pop music artist Melissa O'Neil.
|2005||"Alive"||1||4xPlatinum (CRIA)||Melissa O'Neil|
|"Let It Go"||7||—|
- Canadian Idol: High Notes (2005)
Track #6: Concrete Angel
- Rex Goudie: Under The Lights (2005)
Track #11: Whiskey Lullaby
- Menon, Vinay (September 15, 2005). "A muted Melissa our first Idol queen". Toronto Star. Retrieved 22 August 2011.
- "奧詩敏加國一夜成名", Ming Pao, 2005-09-22, retrieved 2010-09-02
- It’s Official! Ramin Karimloo, Melissa O’Neil & More Will Head to the Barricades in Toronto’s Les Miserables Retrieved February 13, 2013
- Toronto's New Les Miz Will Star Ramin Karimloo, Genevieve Leclerc, Samantha Hill, Lisa Horner, Cliff Saunders
- LES MISERABLES, ONCE, ALADDIN & More Set for Mirvish's 50th Season Retrieved February 13, 2013
- Toronto Production of Les Misérables, Starring Ramin Karimloo, Ends Feb. 2 Playbill, Retrieved February 2, 2014
- Casting Now Complete for 2014 Broadway Revival of Les Misérables Retrieved December 3, 2013