Melinda Doolittle, who became a household name on season six of American Idol, has continued to thrill; first, with her critically acclaimed debut album, Coming Back to You, and now with the release of her book, Beyond Me.
Melinda truly believes that her own success and personal joy are directly proportional to her investment in encouraging and nurturing others. This theme is at the heart of her new book, Beyond Me, where Melinda shares poignant, often humorous stories, revealing life lessons and giving practical guidance to overcome personal obstacles and achieve the next level in any area of life.
“I had such an incredible time working on this book and putting onto paper the experiences that shaped who I am today.” Melinda adds, “I haven’t just sat back and let life throw at me whatever it will. Instead—and this has been key—I’ve always worked to find my way to life’s next level.”
Tone deaf as a child, Melinda’s choir teacher would plead with her not to sing, but just silently move her mouth. Undaunted, her love of singing drove her to enter a talent show in the 7th grade, and after much practice and prayer, she stunned the audience with her miraculously spot-on vocals and beautiful voice. She began to realize that success in life was something bigger than her—or, as she puts it, “It’s beyond me!”
To achieve her dream of moving people with music, Melinda began setting and systematically reaching her goals; such as obtaining a music degree from Belmont University in Nashville, TN and singing background vocals for many of her favorite music artists, like Michael McDonald and CeCe Winans. Then following an amazing turn of events, she burst onto the music scene with her flawless vocal performances on American Idol – becoming the clear favorite of the show’s most difficult judge, Simon Cowell.
“Idol was an amazing experience for me,” says Melinda. “I learned so much about myself and made lifelong friendships. It has also provided me with unimaginable opportunities to sing music I love and have a platform to make a difference.”
Since her time on Idol and her transition into the spotlight, Melinda has wowed audiences everywhere with her ‘big voice’ and ‘soulful’ performances, from the White House to the Musicians Hall of Fame, from the Kennedy Center to Carnegie Hall.
Her debut album, Coming Back to You (2009), garnered rave reviews from critics, including The New York Times which hailed Melinda as one of the most 'phenomenally gifted' in years. The album recalls the magic and luster of R&B’s classic artists with the supple production style of today’s pop-soul renaissance. Featuring production by Grammy-nominated producer Mike Mangini and recorded with the highest caliber musicians from the musical epicenters of Nashville and New York City, Coming Back to You soars as a soul-baring tour de force with the singer transforming these lively soul, jazz, pop and R&B stylings into a definitive collection of songs that urge the listener to come back again and again.
“It was truly a thrill to record this album using live instruments and to be able to sing songs that paint a picture,” notes Melinda. “Not only did I get to work with an award winning producer, but also some of the top musicians in the industry; and now I’m getting to travel the country and perform them live with my band – what could be better?!”
Melinda’s undeniable talent and versatility as a vocalist consistently shine through, with the album’s extraordinary range of songs ringing true throughout; from the classic rhythms of “It’s Your Love” and “Coming Back to You,” to the stripped-down-funk-and-blues of two Robert Johnson classics, “Dust My Broom” and “Walkin’ Blues,” to a smoldering pair of Sammy Cahn penned ballads: the heart-wrenching “I’ll Never Stop Loving You,” and the Hall of Fame songwriter’s meditative “Wonder Why,” which is showcased by Melinda’s impeccably nuanced delivery.
Steeped in her extraordinary interpretive vocal powers, Coming Back to You is a torch-passing musical revelation worthy of the R&B immortals - Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner – with Melinda Doolittle emerging as our most authentic new ambassador of R&B.
Melinda’s love for music is eclipsed only by her love of giving back, as she dedicates much of her time to working with numerous charities, especially those that center on improving the lives of children; including the Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and The League, which promotes involvement in community service among children. She also works extensively with Malaria No More, and has traveled to Africa twice, once as a presidential delegate and once with former First Lady Laura Bush, bringing awareness to the preventable disease that takes the lives of over 1 million children under the age of five, every year.
“I love children and have been blessed to be a part of wonderful organizations that strive to give them the best future possible,” Melinda explains. “There’s no greater reward than seeing pure joy on a child’s face.”
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