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    Melissa Jimenez

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    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1Untouchable lyrics
    2Wrong When You're Gone lyrics

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    "My mother told me long ago/Look inside yourself/And then you'll know/You have the strength/To reach your dream." "I'll Try"

    Melissa Jiménez hasn't been singing since she was born, it just seems that way. The 22-year-old New York native, New Jersey-raised performer says her parents swear she was carrying a tune by the time she was one, but it wasn't until Melissa was 14 that she joined her father Horacio's 10 piece Orchestra, stepping in for her mom Maria and never turning back.

    That journey has culminated in the release of her impressive SRC/Universal Motown Records debut album, Signed Sealed Delivered, marking the arrival of this multi-talented artist who is equally adept singing, dancing, songwriting, arranging and producing, a combination that has people calling her a cross between Alicia Keys, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Jiménez worked with a variety of collaborators on the album, from well-known producer/writers like Grammy-winning Bryan Michael Cox (Mary J. Blige, Chris Brown), Trackmasters and KNS to up-and-comers like her longtime partner Tyrice Jones, with whom she first recorded the soaring ballad, "I'll Try," five years ago before nailing it for her major-label bow.

    The first single, the sassy dance-floor hip-hop beat of "Untouchable," which she co-wrote with Claude Kelly and was produced by Dan Strong and J.K., announces the arrival of a new star, its jaunty big brass band intro, marching drums and throbbing bass supporting Melissa's tongue-in-cheek lyrics and winning personality.

    "I took a real aggressive approach to making this album," she says. "I don't like to just sit there and have someone feed me a song. I prefer being part of the energy, part of the creative process. This album represents a huge piece of me. If you're going to show your talent, you have to go all the way."

    Signed Sealed Delivered shows off her skills, from the high-energy club buzz of "Untouchable" and the nod to her Latin roots in the KNS-produced "Never Give You Up" (with its Mongo Santamaria sample, congas horns and montuno) to the emotional R&B ballad , "These Tears," and the autobiographic epic "I'll Try," sporting a wide-screen production and massive vocal choir.

    "When people ask me what this album is about, I just tell them, simply, it's me," explains Melissa. "I wanted to show what I've been through, and put it into a song. There's nothing fake about it. It's the truth."

    That story begins with a young Melissa dreaming about following in the footsteps of her musical idols, like Janet Jackson as an adolescent, before she discovered jazz singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James and Billie Holiday, then emulated multi-octave belters such as Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey.

    She began putting her thoughts on paper and writing songs at 14, shortly after joining her father's orchestra. Melissa learned the basics of playing the piano and took dancing lessons in ballet, jazz, modern, African, mambo and hip-hop. Before she was even old enough to be eligible, she received a standing ovation for performing on an amateur night at the world-famous Apollo Theater in Harlem.

    Melissa went on to be named one of the top soprano vocalists in New Jersey, performed the National Anthem before tens of thousands at a soccer match in Giant Stadium and for a 9/11 memorial at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral, where her rendition of "Amazing Grace" brought the crowd, which included N.Y. Governor George Pataki and N.Y.C. Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to tears.

    "Performing live is the easiest thing for me," she says. "I love it. If you need me to sing, don't hold back from putting me on the spot. I'm ready at a moment's notice. This is what I was born to do."

    Jiménez went on to do some recording with the Sugar Hill label, then hooked up with the Ruff Ryders posse, appearing on albums by Drag-On and working with Styles P and Swizz Beatz. Some time later connected with former Roc-A-Fella founder Damon Dash, working with N.O.R.E. and rapper Beanie Sigel. Credited as Melissa, she appeared on Sigel's hit single and video, "Feel It in the Air," from his 2005 Platinum-certified album The B. Coming. Melissa also wrote and performed "Dance With Me," on the Forest Whitaker-directed major motion picture First Daughter, with Damon Elliott, son of Dionne Warwick. A connection with producer Swizz Beatz led to her appearance on "Take the Lead (Wanna Ride)," with Bone Thugs N Harmony and Wisin & Yandel featuring Fatman Scoop, used in the Antonio Banderas film, Take the Lead.

    Sending out demos in hopes of landing her own recording deal, Melissa's cd ended up on the desk of an ambitious intern at SRC Records named Jamaal Meeks aka Reality (now her A&R rep), who managed to get the label's renowned head, legendary hip-hop executive Steve Rifkind, to take a listen. "Jamaal believed in it the moment he heard it," she says, and so did Rifkind.

    In a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction scenario, shortly after hearing the demo, Rifkind attended a wedding at which, unbeknownst to him, Melissa was singing as part of her father's orchestra. He tried to talk to her at that time, but she had already left the building. When the performer came to the office for a meeting the next day, the executive realized he had just seen her. Before she knew it, Jiménez was belting out Whitney Houston's "I Believe in You and Me" in front of a conference room that included Universal Music Group Chairman Doug Morris, Universal Motown President Sylvia Rhone and her mother, who ran over from her own job across the street to beam with everyone else.

    "They wouldn't let me out of the building," marvels Melissa. "They just welcomed me to the label. It was the best day of my life."

    Signed Sealed Delivered is the result.

    "My inspiration was to make an album in which every song is special, with no filler," explains Melissa. "I wanted to challenge my abilities as a singer, songwriter and producer. I put a lot of pressure on myself."

    Melissa Jiménez has been working for this moment her whole life.

    "I could have had a record deal when I was younger, but I feel I'm better able to appreciate it now," she says. "Things were not handed to me on a silver platter. I'm keeping myself close to the ground because nothing has really happened yet. I have ideas, visions and dreams of what I'd like to do, but right now, I'm prepared to do whatever it takes to make this album a success."

    "It's a beautiful thing playing all those events and weddings," she laughs. "I already know what I want for my own."

    [Biography from her myspace page]

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