Copyright 2016 Melissa Ratley. All rights reserved.
What is Country music?
For Melissa Ratley, that’s an easy question. It’s songwriting and singing. It’s simply playing for friends and family, or performing in front of a crowd, no matter the size or setting. Once you hear Melissa’s voice for the first time, you’re instantly reminded of neotraditional voices like Reba and Wynonna Judd, along with Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, and Kathy Mattea, and you can hear the songwriting influence of Mary Chapin Carpenter and Deana Carter in her songs. As Melissa puts it, music is power, drive and creating a symbiotic relationship with the audience.
Born in San Ramon, California, Melissa didn’t take long becoming a Texas girl when her family relocated to Dallas Ft. Worth two months later. After graduating high school in Carrollton, she thought she’d bring a little Texas to Ole Miss before eventually hearing the Red Dirt calling her back. She finished her college at the University of North Texas where she spent years pursuing another passion: radio. After some time as a DJ at a local Texas Country station, Melissa realized she should be behind a different microphone; her life belongs to the guitar, pen, and paper. Creating music has always been a part of her life.
Melissa started tinkering with songwriting at the age of six; at that age she performed for her first time in front of others besides her mom and dad, playing a mess of chords at the 1st grade talent show for about two minutes. Songwriting didn’t become a serious passion of Melissa’s until she turned 16. Now it’s something that just kind of happens.
According to Melissa, songwriting is a craft; it’s a muscle that needs to be stretched and exercised. Melissa believes that if she doesn’t keep writing, she’ll never write the songs she wants to. She always keeps the juices flowing whether it’s jotting down a string of words here and there to have them for later, or rolling over in the middle of the night to scribble something that came to her in her sleep. Where others may find comfort or therapy in things like listening to music, Melissa does by putting pen to paper and watching the music come alive.
It’s similar to getting on stage in front of an audience - being a singer-songwriter is one thing, but the fire on stage is fueled by the connection from the audience, and that’s what feeds the passion for Melissa each and every time she plays. A simple conversation with one person can lead to many different conclusions.
Melissa is currently working on her second album, which is slated for release in late summer/early fall 2017. Many miles have been traveled, and many more will be conquered in the coming weeks, months, and years, but Melissa will always hold these things as a constant: “I want my songs to affect other people, to provoke thought. I want the audience to believe in what’s said. I don’t want to be just another face on a magazine cover, or a song that never get’s played. I want people to remember me. I want to relate to people and them to me. I’m human, I’m bound to error. This is a way of processing my life.”