Melisa Devost has toured extensively throughout western and northern Canada, the UK and continental Europe, carving her niche as a compelling vocalist with the guitar chops and songwriting skills to match.
She has shared the stage with many folk/roots veterans such as, Ruthie Foster, Colin Linden and David Francey and has graced many festivals with her unique take on gospel singing, often teaching workshops on the subject.
Her latest record, A Sudden Shift of Existing Light, released in May 2009, is a tasty mix of imagery laden poignant lyrics and finger-style guitar wrapped up in Melisa's dynamically beautiful voice. She is joined on this recording by many guests, including Kent McAlister, Leah Abramson and Ken Whiteley.
Melisa grew up in the small rural community of Hornby Island. As a child, she showed interest and aptitude for writing and performing, but it wasn’t until her early teens that it was discovered that “this girl has some pipes.” After spending much of her teenage years in musical theatre, competitive choirs, and classical voice training, Melisa did what so many teenagers who grew up in small communities do- she got the hell outta there. In the small window between graduating high school and leaving for Europe, Melisa picked up a guitar for the first time and began to write songs in the small cabin she was living in; a scene that would often be repeated throughout her life.
Melisa spent the subsequent years back and forth between various places in Canada, and Ireland. It was in Ireland that she frequented trad music sessions, where the practice of singing acapella caught on (she is known to begin and end her shows acapella). As Melisa strode through life, she continued to write unabashedly about her experiences, developing a style of songwriting that is not unlike herself- thoughtful, honest and emotional.
In her early 20’s, following a very difficult time, her music turned a corner when she began to write Gospel and Blues songs. When asked “why Gospel music?” She replied: “I don’t really know. It sort of found me. It’s what my voice is meant to do.”
Mentored by folk veteran Ken Whiteley, Melisa continued to research and write Gospel and Blues music while studying guitar in the Malaspina Jazz Program on Vancouver Island.
Melisa’s first recording, an EP "Click,” was recorded and mixed in various cabins on Hornby Island and released in 2002. Her first full length record, “Capacity,” was recorded in Toronto and produced by Ken Whiteley. Released in 2005, “Capacity” boasts guest performers Carlos Del Junco, Colin Linden, Rick Fines and George Koller. Melisa toured this record to great acclaim, playing at venues and festivals throughout Western and Northern Canada, the UK and continental Europe, mostly solo. In addition to her own recordings, Melisa’s voice can also be heard on various others’ including Ken Whiteley’s “Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright’ and David Gogo’s “Skeleton Key.”
Her newest record, “A Sudden Shift of Existing Light” was released in May 2009, and had already garnered top-notch reviews.
Melisa currently lives in Vancouver BC. When not touring, or working on a series of very sad ukulele tunes, or singing on various local recording projects, including The Great Outdoors, Kingsway and Kent McAlister, or singing in The Abramson Singers, or playing bass in indie rock band Propolis, she finds herself often sitting on her porch, listening to the rain, staring up at the cherry tree, guitar on lap and pen in hand….
Melisa Devost: vocals, guitar, ukulele, acapella.
Melisa's band, The May Nots, varies, but these fine gentlemen are the solid players:
Shawn Killaly: drums and strange antics
Craig McCaul: guitar, bass
Tony Wilson: guitar and electronics
2002 - Click EP
2005 - Capacity
2009 - A Sudden Shift of Existing Light
Melisa can also be heard on the following records:
Ken Whiteley - Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright (2004)
David Gogo - Skeleton Key (2003)
Kent McAlister - The Way It Rolls (2007)
The Great Outdoors - 'Summer' and 'Fall' EPs (2008)
Corbin Murdoch and The Nautical Miles - Wartime Love Song (2009)
Listen To Me - RC Joseph
[+ Show ]
Though no one ever uses the term "male singer/songwriter," females in the craft almost always have t...Though no one ever uses the term "male singer/songwriter," females in the craft almost always have their gender noted.
Singer/songwriters as good as Melisa Devost, however, make such classification sound nearly condescending. After all, we are not talking about women's powerlifting or the WNBA here. This is art, and gender shouldn't enter into the equation.
Originally hailing from Hornby Island, Devost has called Vancouver home for almost two years, and in that short time has embedded herself more deeply in our music scene than many local artists manage to in a career. In addition to her solo work, Devost also contributes to a bevy of other Vancouver projects: she plays bass in indie rock saviors Propolis, she is a member of the acapella group Pan Pan, and she is one third of the Canadian songwriter's collective known as Atlantic Crossing, with whom she will be touring the UK this spring.
Somewhere in amongst all that music making, Devost has even found the time to record three albums of blues-tinged, country folk goodness, with her latest release, A Sudden Shift of Existing Light, due out later this year. (And you thought all those hippy kids from the islands were supposed to be lazy.)
And while Devost's music ranges from heartfelt, non-denominational gospel to quirky folk-pop, there is certainly nothing decidedly female (or male for that matter) about her songwriting. You see, songwriting this good doesn't just speak to a gender; it's message reaches an entire species.
No one ever says that "Meryl Streep is a good actor, for a woman." Or "that Emily Carr could really paint, you know, for a chick." And no one will ever sat that "Melisa Devost is one hell of a female singer/songwriter." They'll just call one hell of a singer/songwriter. Period. And so will I.
Melisa Devost is Lime's artist in residence for the month of March, and will be performing at 9pm every Sunday.
"A Sudden Shift of Existing Light" review
[+ Show ]
Looks like the islands of the Pacific Northwest actually have more to offer than just over-priced ar...Looks like the islands of the Pacific Northwest actually have more to offer than just over-priced art and under-priced weed. Their third notable export goes by the name of Melisa Devost, and her music boasts the best qualities of both those pre-existing commodities respectively: beautiful crafts(wo)manship and the ability to make you feel oh so high.
A life long resident of Hornby Island, Devost has offered up critically acclaimed collection of musical genius after critically acclaimed musical genius since her debut effort, 2002's Click. And when you hail from a community of 900 people, and you still manage to reach the heights of "critically acclaimed," you know you are probably on to something.
There can be little question that Melisa Devost is, in fact, on to something.
Devost's latest effort, the brilliantly hooky A Sudden Shift of Existing Light, is as fine a release as I've heard this year. smoothly walking the line between folk, country, blues, and even gospel.
Devost's masterful songwriting particularly comes to light during such pieces as the swinging, upbeat poetry of "In This Town," a track that could feel right at home on any Weakerthans album, and the jazzy, delightful finger-picking ditty "C'est Tout," which harkens back to Spirit of the West or even Jewel (during those few moments of her career when Alaska's favourite vixen actually had some artistic integrity).
And while every tune on A Sudden Shift of Existing Light seems to stand out more than its predecessor, each conjuring up familiar influences and sounds, all of the album's tracks still somehow remain decidedly and distinctly Melisa Devost.
Familiar yet unique, peaceful yet moving, challenging yet refreshing, A Sudden Shift of Existing Light marks Melisa Devost's finest effort to date - and, arguably, the islands' finest export.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.