Melanie Zipin
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Melanie Zipin


Band Americana Folk


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"Still Waters Run Deep"

Melanie Zipin’s new album reveals more than you might think. Imagine someone between Melissa Etheridge and Jewel and you’ll be on the track of what Zipin sounds like.

THE HUM by Brandt Legg
Melanie Zipin’s new recording, “Shades of Blue,” is a step backwards, but actually in the right direction. Her debut CD, “On a Wing,” (2000) featured the Z Factor band and at times the production seemed to overpower her. Still, “On a Wing” is considered by many to be one of the best records to come out of New Mexico during the past five years, but “Shades of Blue” surpasses it in its honesty, grit and writing.
Zipin’s latest offering is stripped down to the basics while not skimping on the full sound her fans expect. She wrote all the songs on the album with the exception of three co-authored with other band members. Both efforts were produced by Phil Brown who seems to have a psychic connection when it comes to her music. He somehow manages to blend the instrumentation into her voice, playing it like another instrument.
There’s a blues roughness to her vocals that conceals a range which often surprises. Imagine someone between Melissa Etheridge and Jewel and you’ll be on the track of what Zipin sounds like, but watch out because she’ll change on the very next song.
The Philadelphia native found Taos “when I was young.” She arrived in 1979 and learned to play the guitar and began to sing while she was here. Zipin has written her whole life, “There are boxes and storage bins full of my journals,” she said, but it wasn’t until Taos that she began to put her words to music. Her son, born here, inspired the first song she wrote. It was, naturally, a lullaby to him.
Another local singer-songwriter, Stephanie Lee, pushed and encouraged Zipin to develop her voice, writing and music style. “Cross Your Heart,” a song on the album, is about their friendship. In the mid-1980s she left what she calls, “the startling beauty of Taos,” and returned home to Philly.
Soon, though, New Mexico pulled her back. This time she settled in the Silver City area where she still resides. It was there she first began to sing in public after someone heard her sing while working as a waitress in the early 90s. Customers began to help her with tables so she could get up for a song with visiting musicians. One thing led to another and her second CD is selling well. More than 300 people packed her release party. The local arts council has invited her to perform an encore concert at the Opera House and she is seeking management.
“Catch my Breath,” “Shades of Blue” and “To Rock You,” are the three stand outs on “Shades of Blue.” All her lyrics read like poetry. “Early on I loved being able to put my words to music. That’s what really propelled me,” she said. “My first love is writing, music is right behind and to do both is heaven.”
Her bluesy-rocking folk songs seem influenced by everything from flamenco to the rugged terrain of her adopted state. One of Zipin’s strengths is an ability to change tempo in mid-song and wrap the emotions of her words around an emphasized sound. She does it again and again, creating a style that makes each song fresh while using the music to push the listener into the lyrics and viceversa. It’s quite a trick.
As Zipin’s creativity grew through the years, her Taos-born son, now 22, grew up surrounded by music and spent some time in a punk band. Meanwhile she splits her energies between writing new material, artwork and a building project. Although she doesn’t often get back to Taos, keep an eye out as she’ll be touring more to promote the new record. Playing live is her favorite aspect of being a singer. Her lyrics have a common thread of accessibility and subtly sneak up and take your breath. “To know that you've touched another person on that level,” Zipin said, “is the most amazing feeling.”
Both CDs are available at www. For more information, visit online www.melanie
Brandt H. Legg hosts the weekly KTAO-FM 101.9 regional-music show “Spotlight on New Mexico” Sundays, 3-6 p.m., and at Email him at

- The Taos News

"Red & Blue"

I'm walkin' thru the hardened mud
and the trash
discarded products and broken glass
tiny reflections of a misguided path

rebels on skateboards with their
music cranked up
preach death and destruction 'cause
hypocrisy sucks... "Tiny Reflections" from Melanie Zipin's new CD, Shades of Blue.

Rode the bike to Deming to hear Melanie and Jeff play at the St. Clair Winery. Been about three years since I last saw them (in Las Cruces).

Her music blows me away. Although her first CD, Melanie Zipin and the Z Factor - on a wing, has some mighty tasty tracks, Shades of Blue shines like a diamond, polished by life's conflicts and struggles. The pruning which leads to new growth. Now how would I know about Melanie's personal life? Only spoke with her twice in three years. Well, you listen to her words - she's writing down the bones. That's how. In "Tiny Reflections" you hear the generational gap between a mother and child (her son, Rafael, is on the Vans Warped Tour selling his tees).

So I taste every single red. Twice. Decide on a glass of merlot. Four bucks. The server fills it to the brim. I ask if she takes tips. She demurs. I give her a buck. The wind's picking up, the temperature's already sitting at a hundred or so, the tents are flapping, threatening to lift off the ground and fly away. Melanie and Jeff are playing. I shoot them, trying to figure out if my fill flash is actually firing. Won't know till I do the pix, maybe later today.

The server pours me another glass. I'm feeling pretty darn good, opening up a bit. Shoot more pix. Chat with the hot dog ladies. Melanie finishes the first set. They sit. Melanie talks with some girls come out to hear her. I chat with Jeff for a bit. Learn he's from Louisiana. I drink half bottle of water. Say goodbye and drive out on the highway.

Up this morning about 1 a.m… and I'm thinking, hey, I oughta copy Shades of Blue and send it to my ex and maybe I will and I'm feeling so happy right this minute cause Melanie's voice is in my head and the world's a better place just for a little while.

- Music Blog

"Desert Muse"


Melanie Zipin’s Shades of Blue is tough to categorize. Like many New Mexico vocalists, Zipin and her band have learned to be versatile. I can just imagine folks in Silver City kicking back to hear her slower tunes, then hopping up to some two-stepping to country songs and later rocking on funky riffs.
Shades of Blue offers a good mix of songs by this talented lyricist and engaging vocalist. She sings with heartfelt honesty about life and its many challenges. Her warm, soulful voice is charged with emotion and, at times, reaches a plaintive edge.
Zipin lived in Taos in the late ‘70s but moved back to her home of Philadelphia in 1985. Her love of the Land of Enchantment, however, lured her to the Silver City area in the early ‘90s.
She’s penned most of the lyrics but gets an assist on the melody from her husband and musical partner, Jeff LeBlanc, on a few cuts. “Catch My Breath” dedicated to LeBlanc, expresses her grateful love for the man who accepts her with “the many ghosts that haunt me.” The two also perform as a duo, and I’d love to hear a future acoustic recording of her arresting lyrics and voice.
The lyrical power of “Cross Your heart” tugs at the hearts of all of us who’ve lost touch with old friends. The chorus refrain: “A moments friendship/ a lifetime later/ it will never be a loss/ still I wonder/ though time has faded/ do I ever cross your heart/ cross your heart.”
While her poetic words tend to pack a punch, they’re often couched in upbeat melodies provided by her talented band. Maria Dahl-Bredine provides beautiful harmony vocals.
Silver City is gaining recognition as a haven for artists, and certainly the presence of Melanie Zipin can only add to that aura.

 Emily Drabanski

- New Mexico Magazine

"Radio & TV Quotes"

“It (Shades of Blue) sounds great! Sorta an Alternative Country Rickie Lee Jones. We’ll be happy to play it!”
Ira Gordon-GM/Program Director

“The voice of an angel!”
Ricardo Trujillo - Producer, Voz del Valle
KRWG-TV, Las Cruces

- KBAC/Santa Fe & KRWG TV Las Cruces


On A Wing:
“From out of the dust of Silver City, New Mexico comes a brand new voice that could have huge success in country, blues, folk or even funk.
An odd mix from the Southwest? Maybe, but Melanie Zipin's 13-song release is an energetic, passionate and eclectic blend of a great female voice, excellent instrumentation and good lyrics.”
“....... The Music, .... a wonderfully and simply-written tribute to the power of and love for music:

"..I hope it rains. I hope it pours.
Lightning strikes and thunder roars.
Far too many revolving, revolving doors.
But, the music -- takes everything.
It takes everything heavy and makes it light;
takes everything wrong and makes it alright;
takes everything grey and brings it into the light,
out into the light..."

Kinda like her own music.”
Les Reynolds -

- Les Reynolds -


On A Wing- debut CD, released September, 2000.
Shades of Blue- released April, 2004.
Both CD's have received Radio airplay on NPR and commercial stations around the country. Also streaming on several internet radio stations. Sound clips available on web site and on myspace.



Melanie Zipin is originally from ‘Philly’. Growing up to the confluence of Motown and folk, she quickly found her own style. Soulful and honest; her songwriting seems to really speak to people, as she is not afraid to share her heart in her songs, while her voice seems to penetrate the very soul of what she's singing about.
Jeff LeBlanc is from New Orleans. He grew up playing in funk bands, and was greatly influenced by the wealth of music that surrounded him. The two met in New Mexico, and formed a duo a few years later in 1996. Their combined styles brought new direction to their music.
In September of 2000, Melanie Zipin released her debut CD, On A Wing, with accompanying musicians dubbed ‘the Z Factor’. On A Wing was received with much enthusiasm and received radio play on many NPR, as well as commercial radio stations around the country. Melanie’s 2nd CD, Shades of Blue, was released in April 2004, and was met with great excitement, and two sold out CD Release Concerts. Their 3rd CD, Here I Am, is in the works.
Melanie & Jeff have played many venues around the Southwest, including The Silver City Blues Festival and The Outpost Performance Space in Albuquerque, NM. The duo opened for Laura Love at the Fine Arts Theater on the WNMU campus. And recently performed at the 1st annual Woman’s Celebration in Santa Fe along with Mary Gauthier and Nancy Griffith
Melanie & Jeff have a strong local following and make new fans wherever they go. As the reach of their music expands, more people will have the opportunity to discover this gifted Singer Songwriter