Local Wire

Melanie @ The Rhythm Room

Though Melanie Safka may have fallen under the mainstream radar some time ago, she and her distinctive vocal style have remained a part of the collective consciousness. She's best known for "Brand New Key" (a song that every outspoken pre-teen girl should listen to, to feel both independent and unabashed) and "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)," songs that encapsulate the spirit of '60s mass gatherings for a common cause. Her unmistakable voice is a series of seemingly contradictory characteristics: rough and sweet, fierce and inviting, strong and vulnerable, solid and shaky. While her most famous music and most memorable performances (including Woodstock, the iconic Isle of Wight Festival in England, and the Powder Ridge Rock Festival in Connecticut — which she played despite a court order saying the fest couldn't happen) occurred in the late '60s and early '70s, she's released a whopping 34 albums over the past 42 years. Her political candor and bold manner means that she isn't slowing down, even at 63 years old.

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Sarah Ventre