For over 10 years, singer/songwriter Melissa Fortes has worked professionally as a backing vocalist for various international artists around the world. In 2013, she debuted her acclaimed single ‘Lullaby’ – A song which introduced listeners to Melissa’s fresh and vibrant new sound influenced by her Cape Verdean roots.
We spoke to Melissa to learn about her unique sound and influences. View the interview below:How would you generally describe your music to somebody who’d never heard it before? What song would you tell them to listen to first and why?
My music is a mix of warm Cape Verdean and Brazilian sounds and influences, with a dash of jazz and neo soul.
I would recommend listening to ‘Deixa a Chuva Passar’. It was my second single, but my first song. It really feels like my baby. It gives you a positive vibe which is what I want people to get when they listen to my music. Positive vibes and a big smiles on their faces.
I started when I was 16 years old in a band with my cousin. But it wasn’t very serious at that time. In 2001 I recorded my first real song with my girlfriend on the Cape Verdean album ‘Mobass’.
‘Levam Ma Bo’ is your latest song. Can you tell us about the concept/inspiration behind the track?
I wrote ‘Levam ma bo’ when I was in Mozambique for a gig. I was thinking about my boyfriend and how happy I am to have him is in my life. I realized that it doesn’t matter where I would live, as long as he is with me, I will feel at home.
My father is Cape Verdean and my mother is Dutch. I always say that I feel blessed that I’ve been raised in two different cultures. That definitely had an influence on my music. In 1999, I did an internship in Brazil for 6 months. That’s when my love for Brazilian music grew. I think that when you listen to my music you will hear all those influences of my youth and life experiences.
Do you write your songs yourself? And if so, how often and where do you find inspiration for your lyrics?
Some songs I wrote myself, but mostly I co-write with my good friend, singer and lyrical genious William Araujo. Especially when I want the lyrics to be in Cape Verdean I always ask for his expertise. Most of the time I will write in Dutch what I want to say in the song, and then he will use my input to write the lyrics in Cape Verdean. Most of the time my producer Sebas dos Santos sends me a guitar hook, and then I get an idea in my head. The subject is always hidden in his guitar hooks. His music really speaks to me.
Most of your songs are multilingual. Do you have a preference as to which language you prefer to write/sing in?
I really love to mix and match. I don’t want to be put in a box and I love the freedom to sing in whatever language feels best at that moment. Every song has his own feeling.
Are there any artists that inspire you?
Sara Tavares, Boy Ge Mendes and Jill Scott
You worked on ‘African Force’ with Franklin Rodriques. Can we expect any more collaborations in future?
For sure! There will be 3 duets on my upcoming album. I’m really happy to record with these wonderful singers. And I still love to make house tracks as well. I’m recording a new house track at the moment with producer Bryan Dalton.
So what else can we expect from the new album?
The album will give you the feeling of a sunny Saturday and a lazy sunday. Music that will make the sun shine a little bit brighter.
How can our readers learn more about your music?
You can find me on Itunes, Amazon, Spotify, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. I also have a website, but it’s currently under construction. www.melissafortes.com