Melanie Fiona Hallim (born July 4, 1983) is a Canadian R&B and Grammy-nominated recording artist from Toronto, Ontario. She was born to Guyanese immigrant parents of African, Indian, and Portuguese descent and grew up in the inner city of Toronto. Living in a music filled household, Fiona says she always knew music was her passion. Her father was a guitarist in a band and would allow her to sit on the stage when she was younger as he practiced, and remembers her mother playing music at home; everything from The Ronettes to Whitney Houston.
Fiona was featured on Reggae Gold 2008 with the Supa Dups-produced "Somebody Come Get Me". Her debut album The Bridge was released in the summer of 2009. She worked on the album with Future Cut, Vada Nobles, Stereotypes, J. Phoenix and Peter Wade Keusch. The debut single "Give It to Me Right" was sent to radio stations on February 28, 2009, and peaked at number 20 on the Canadian Hot 100 chart and number 41 on the UK Singles Chart. The second single, "It Kills Me", became her breakout song on the Billboard Hot 100 where it cracked the Top 50, along with topping the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The song earned Fiona a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. The Bridge also earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding New Artist.
Life and career of Melanie Fiona
1983–2001: Early life & Career Beginnings
Melanie Fiona Hallim was born on July 4, 1983, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She is the daughter and second child of Guyanese immigrant parents, who immigrated to Canada in the late 1970s. Her father was a janitor before working in finance, and her mother worked in banking. Fiona began writing songs at age 16.
In 2002, Fiona was briefly involved with girl group X-Quisite. Early in her career, she would perform at nightclubs in Toronto. In 2005, Fiona traveled to Los Angeles,California, in search of a recording contract. According to Fiona, record labels "loved" the way she looked and sung, but she "knew that the minute I worked with them or would have signed with them, they would have tried to change me into someone else completely different. That was something that I didn't want to do." She went on to co-write songs for recording artists Rihanna and Kardinal Offishall. Fiona also recorded the reggae song "Somebody Come Get Me" under the stage name Syren Hall, which was included in the Reggae Gold 2008 compilation album.
Entrepreneur Steve Rifkind discovered and signed Fiona to SRC Records and Universal Motown in 2007. She went on to tour with Kanye West in his Glow in the Dark Tour Prior to completing her debut album, Fiona met with recording artist Jay-Z and his friend Tata. She played them some of her music and was then co-signed by Roc Nation. She released her debut album, The Bridge, in June 2009, which has sold 248,000 copies in the United States. Beyond Race Magazine ranked Fiona among "50 Emerging Artists" of 2009. Several singles were released from the album, including "It Kills Me", which topped the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for 10 weeks and earned her a Grammy Award nomination at the 52nd Grammy Awards for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Fiona participated in "We Are the World 25 for Haiti" to benefit after the 2010 Haiti earthquake. She began touring with Alicia Keys as an opening act on The Freedom Tour in 2010. The album spawned six singles with one being "It Kills Me" which reached the top spot on US R&B chart.
2011-Present: MF Life
In 2011 Fiona began recording her second studio album. The lead single was entitled "Gone and Never Coming Back." The single peaked at 37 on US R&B chart. The second single, "4 AM" was sent to urban stations on August 30th 2011. The album is scheduled to be released on December 6th, 2011.Musical style and influences
Fiona cites Whitney Houston, Sam Cooke, Sade, Amy Winehouse, India.Arie,Patsy Cline and Bob Marley as her musical influences. She also cited Mary J. Blige's career as inspirational, who she called anicon. She called Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill the album that changed her perspective, calling it an "amazing body of work". She attributes her parents for her vintage sound. Her father was aguitarist in a band, while her mother would sing around the house. She explained that "[m]y parents were big music lovers and played soul music all the time", who would play The Supremes, The Ronettes and Cooke, as well as Caribbean music like soca, calypso and reggae.
Fiona songwriting revolves around her personal experiences. She stated that she attempts to "keep [the songs] as universal as possible, unless I am writing about something very personal, even then the themes are universal". She has received comparisons to Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, Macy Gray, Chrisette Michele, Marsha Ambrosius and Jill Scott.