'The Independent Music Show Magazine' February 2018 - Page 20

Featured Artist - 12 - January - 2018

Melanie Rose Dyer grew up in a small rural town in Virginia, one of seven children in a house with one bathroom. (The house of her earliest years sat on cinder blocks with chickens under it, with an outdoor toilet, and a washtub for bathing the little ones.) Dyer was in the eighth grade when they got TV. Outside household-related chores, there was little to do but listen to music, read a lot of books and use one's imagination. Such activities were formative: Today one sibling designs gold jewelry; another teaches music.

Melanie Rose's youthful musical intake was diverse: classical, gospel, R&B, folk and rock 'n' roll. Acts who caught her ear included Mahalia Jackson; Aretha Franklin; the Beatles: Peter, Paul and Mary; and the music coming out of Memphis and Motown. Out of her Dad's

radio the family absorbed a constant deluge of country and ole' timey music. She was drawn to performance and discovered a gift for it. After college, she moved to Colorado, entertaining on the ski resort circuit and finding an early fan in a young Gretchen Peters, who grew up in Boulder.

She came to Nashville in 1981 without a penny to her name, for one reason: to write songs. She delivered on that goal: signing a publishing deal; writing with many of the top writers including Pat Alger (“Unanswered Prayers,” “Small Town Saturday Night”); hobnobbing with Music Row hit makers and power brokers.

Then, as so often happens, life intervened. The cash flow and momentum never came. Various projects were initiated and aborted. While waiting tables with other aspiring musicians in 1986, she applied for an airline job on a lark, and that led to a 25-year career as a flight attendant. The full-time job consumed her time, but the income financed her publishing company, Fanetta Music, which has scored major cuts with artists such as folk icon Tom Rush (Appleseed Records), Rick Trevino (Sony-Epic) and Helen Darling (MCA-Decca).

When husband Tom Robb, a renowned session bass player, was diagnosed with liver cancer, she became a caregiver, largely putting her musical aspirations on the back burner for two years until well after his death in 2006. Those days remain hard to talk about. But they provoked two intensely autobiographical songs that became the genesis of The Long Way Around.