Melissa Jordano is a singer/songwriter and managing member of Backtrack Vocals, a 5-person, nationally-touring a cappella group based in NYC. Growing up in the ‘burbs of New Jersey in the 90s, Melissa listened to pop icons like Britney Spears, The Spice Girls, Christina Aguilera, and Avril Lavigne. Her love for powerful female artists continues today, and her music is inspired by the catchy melodies and genuine lyrics of stars like Demi Lovato and Taylor Swift. Her vocal style is also influenced by her experience in Backtrack, where musical theater and Disney are frequently covered genres.
Melissa joined Backtrack in 2015 and is eternally grateful for the opportunity to work with such talented artists and to contribute to Backtrack's growth from a YouTube-only entity to a nationally-touring professional group. Backtrack takes the stage at performing arts centers, music festivals and universities. The group also has a big heart for arts and music education and they have conducted educational programs at over 100 schools all over the country (and now virtually!).
With the onset of the pandemic and Backtrack’s tour dates cancelled, Melissa used the extra time to write and record music. She has released six singles so far and is working on her first EP. Melissa's songs are often self-reflective and thoughtful. Tongue Tied Magazine calls Melissa’s song, "Dignity", an “anthem of self-confidence, empowerment, and strength.”
So firstly, how would you describe your sound?
I would describe my sound as fierce and edgy. I strive to write songs with catchy melodies and thoughtful lyrics, and my music tends to be a bit dark as well.
What’s a typical day in the studio like for you?
There is no typical day. My “day-job” is performing with and co-managing Backtrack Vocals, a 5-person a cappella group based in NYC. Prior to the pandemic, we were traveling nationwide to performing arts centers, universities, schools, and private and corporate events. Through co-managing Backtrack, I’ve learned how to run a small business, handling matters including booking, finances, taxes, contracts, agents and managers, social media, and internal affairs. For years I had been saying I wanted to release an EP or album, and generally my excuse was not having the time, but with our tour dates cancelled because of Covid, I ran out of excuses. I am thankful for the downtime I had to write original music and learn how to record myself from home, and I intend to set aside more time in the studio going forward.
Do you have to be in a certain mood to write a song?
Yes, but I don’t wait for the mood to strike. I set a timer even if just for 10 minutes and work on something new or a song in progress. If within the 10 minutes, a great idea strikes or I feel inspired, then I’ll keep going. If not, then I put it away for the day and don’t beat myself up about it.
Who are your three biggest musical inspirations?
Demi Lovato. Not only are her vocals insane, but her songs are so touching and personal, and she has been a role model to so many people including myself. I love her anthems about self-love and confidence.
Dua Lipa. She writes “bops.” A friend described “Lullabye” as a “Lullabop” and that was such a compliment.
I couldn’t pick just one more, but a lot of my inspiration comes from the same era and shaped my musical taste. Growing up in the early ‘00s, I was obsessed with the Spice Girls, and perhaps this is where my love for harmony and groups of five come from. Second, Britney Spears. Her songs are so catchy I really admire what an incredible performer she is. And lastly, Avril Lavigne. I love her edgy style and lyrics. She spoke to the inner bad-girl in me, and even though I was the girl doing ballet, I still felt a connection with her music.
Who is the best band you've ever seen play live?
I saw Demi Lovato at The Neon Lights Tour in 2014, and it is something I will never forget. Demi lets it all out on the stage and seeing/hearing her do live what she does in the studio was truly astounding.
What’s the toughest part of the industry for you?
Having to put myself out there. I tend to be introverted and private, so promoting myself on social media has been the most difficult. It combines 2 of my worst fears – vulnerability and technology. That said, the positive responses from listeners has helped me realize that I am my biggest critic and there are people out there who enjoy and gain something from my music.
What’s the most enjoyable part of the industry?
The fact that the industry has helped me break out of my shell and become more confident in myself, my voice, and my ideas. Being a part of Backtrack has pushed me to grow and gave me opportunities I never would have imagined including being on the Steve Harvey show, performing and conducting workshops at over 100 schools nationwide, building a business, and making music with some of my best friends. Writing and releasing original music has also helped me grow as a person – I feel more comfortable expressing myself, and I have a better, more poignant way of articulating my thoughts.
What’s in store for you for the rest of 2021?
Backtrack took two new members earlier this fall, and we are busy preparing for shows in November and a holiday tour in December. I also plan to set aside time to write and look forward to releasing new music in 2022!