MELANIE Safka recalls that night in the summer of 1969, when she went onto the stage at Woodstock just before sunset.
This New York woman, barely known outside the coffeehouse circuit in Greenwich Village, sang her song Beautiful People and inspired the first panorama of candles and cigarette lighters ever raised at a concert event.
That moved the young singer to write Lay Down (Candles in the Rain) that sold more than a million copies in 1970 and prompted Billboard to anoint her as female vocalist of the year.
Her single Brand New Key, an infectious romp about freedom and roller skates, topped the charts in 1971.
Safka was born in New York of a Russian-Ukrainian father and an Italian jazz singer mother.
It has taken 37 years for Melanie to come back to Australia and she is bringing her People in the Front Row Tour.
"I did four tours in Australia, the last one was 1977. I don't know why it took me so long to get back," said Melanie from the US, days before flying to Australia.
Melanie's last Melbourne appearance saw two shows extended into 12 sold-out concerts at the Dallas Brooks Hall in 1977.
"We're writing, and (son) Beau is the music director in this tour. He's my inspiration".
Melanie is hoping for this tour to become her next live album, the 37th of her career.
"Maybe there will be a live album coming out of Australia because Beau can record some of the shows and then we will have a Live in Oz album.
"Since we started talking about coming back Down Under I've been looking at a photo of my two daughters and me with a koala that was taken last time we were there," she said.
"I remember clearly how beautiful the country was and how warm and welcoming you Aussies are."
What will she sing in Lismore?
"I do the hits because I hate disappointing people. Over the years the songs evolve but I never do a jazz version of anything so nobody has to worry about that!"
In 1989, Melanie won an Emmy for writing the lyrics to The First Time I Loved Forever, the theme song for the TV series Beauty and the Beast.
Melanie will be performing at the Star Court Theatre in Lismore on Saturday, June 14. Tickets available from starcourttheatre.com.au and 02 6622 5005.
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