Melanie Fiona recently became “every woman” for a Derek Blanks alter-ego photo shoot in honor of Women’s History Month. The Grammy-nominated singer says she wanted to show the strength of women throughout time. “In this portrait, I am the face of every woman who ever stood, fought, or perished, for the rights and strength of a progressive cause,” she says.
Fiona is also getting ready to release her sophomore album, “The MF Life.” She spoke with ESSENCE.com about her “Every Woman” photo shoot and explains what the “MF Life” is.
ESSENCE.com: Why did you start the “Sistory: Every Woman” campaign?
MELANIE FIONA: I wanted to do something that was different that would represent the way I feel as a young woman in music and just a young woman in general. In making music, I found that women really responded to my music. So that was really the focus of the stories that were being told from a woman’s perspective. When it came time to this ‘Her Story’ campaign I wanted to do the alter ego shoot with Derek Blanks and become several different women in different times and in different cultures. I’m in the middle of the photograph, which is where I’m representing the unity of music, love and peace. It’s really just about showing the fight of women throughout time. Rather than history, it’s ‘Her Story’.
ESSENCE.com: Is this how you’re celebrating Women’s History Month?
MELANIE: I did it a while ago and rather than just putting it out there and making it this cool thing, I wanted it to actually be a part of a campaign.
ESSENCE.com: Can you tell us about your new album coming out in June?
MELANIE: It’s called ‘The MF Life.’ It’s about all the experiences of being a new artist trying to establish themselves and what that means to go on this journey personally and professionally. Sometimes life isn’t always so great, but I think that’s the beautiful thing that we need to celebrate. ‘The MF Life’ is that balance, it’s that yin and yang of life. It’s the highs and lows. I’m so excited about it. After touring with Alicia Keys and Kanye West, I’ve felt more inspired to take my base, which is rooted in soul music, and make it bigger so it’s stadium soul now. The songs are more introspective. [My first album,] ‘The Bridge’ was definitely a collection of songs and stories that were not just my own, but everyone’s. But for this album, a lot more of it comes from my own personal experience.
ESSENCE.com: What is your first single ‘Gone and Never Coming Back’ about?
MELANIE: It’s a big ballad again, similar to ‘It Kills Me.’ My main success, especially in the [United] States, came from the urban market with ‘It Kills Me.’ The one thing that I’ve realized is that people thrive off of emotion. They look to it for therapy and consolation. ‘It Kills Me’ did that for me and I know it did that for a lot of people who listened to it. So it was very important that my first single on my sophomore album come with something that was even more emotional. ‘Gone and Never Coming Back’ is about loss. It’s about the sadness and the reality of having to say goodbye to a love forever.
ESSENCE.com: What are your plans for 2011?
MELANIE: I plan to tour a lot. I feel like my music has grown so much, and so have I and I need people to see that on the road. I need them to connect and experience ‘The MF Life’ not just as an album but as an experience together. I plan on getting aligned with more organizations. I want to get out there and spread awareness of important issues now that people look to me as a source of intelligence, knowledge, music and art. I want to use that spread the word positively. And I just want to happy and be better than 2010.
We “Heart” Melanie.