Melody Federer, songwriter for Kelly Rowland, Hilary Duff, Jacob Whitesides, goes solo.
The shifting panorama of her journey unfolds in an intricate convergence of life and art. Singer/songwriter Melody Federer is poised to release her full-length, When the Dogwoods Bloom. As a songwriter under contract to Green & Bloom, a BMG-affiliated company founded by hit songwriter and exec Billy Mann, she travels between Los Angeles and Nashville, maintaining a rigorous writing schedule. And she’s a new mom, with a baby daughter named Cassidy.
On this day, Federer is visiting family in Virginia after performing in studio at SiriusXM Radio in New York for a live segment on the Coffeehouse channel. The outlet has been playing her new single, “Standing,” with four times per day regularity. “I’ve dreamed of having a song on the radio––any radio––for 10 years, and it’s finally happened,” she says.
Sparkling tracks with acoustic Americana echoes and whimsical flourishes support Federer’s warm, ingratiating vocals on When the Dogwoods Bloom. Possessed of abundant authenticity and undeniable experience, she weaves irresistible hooks through direct, open-hearted narratives.
She has quite the tales to reveal. Originally from Dallas, TX, she met a jazz musician with whom she ran away to Paris. Returning to Los Angeles and signing an unrealized record deal, the duo parted both personally and professionally. Federer rebounded by signing a publishing deal. Her cuts include songs for artists like Kelly Rowland, Hilary Duff and Jacob Whitesides. Relocating to Nashville, she met a man and became pregnant. The two decided to stay together, moved across country to Los Angeles and essentially started over. So “Standing” is an apt prologue, with its theme of one-upping adversity through resilience and faith.
Billy Mann’s support has been invaluable, Federer says. With a substantial list of credits including P!nk, John Legend, Celine Dion and many others, his songwriting acumen is incontestable. “Billy has a way of seeing past facades,” says Federer. “When he met me I was younger and flirtatious. He told me, ‘You can take your 11 down to a four––you don’t have to perform all of the time and make everybody like you and be a person you’re not. You can just put on a shirt and jeans and be the deep person I know you are.” Nobody else could see that. And he slowly pushed me to go to Nashville. That’s when I started getting back to my roots, and that’s how this record came about.”
The music capital, she says, is “incredibly challenging and intimidating because everyone is so good about writing country songs. They’ve all been busting their butts for 10 years and you come in and say, ‘I write country songs too.’ It was a really big growing experience.”
The two and three songwriting sessions per day sharpened her craft as she collaborated mostly with male songwriters. “It’s always felt kind of competitive with women. Men let me do my thing, topline, and write whatever I want. When I became pregnant it changed––all of my productive sessions were with women. And maybe any sense of competition was gone. They could be vulnerable with me. There’s a maternal quality, so I’m trying to hold on to that.”
One of Melody Federer’s projects utilized the rapidity at which she can create. “1,000 Songs for 1,000 Strangers” chronicled the songwriter creating short songs for people she met and posting them online in exchange for donations benefitting Love146, an international human rights organization. “In my darkest moments I find my salvation in strangers, and interactions with them. We can make each other smile and feel some kind of connection, even if it’s brief,” she says.
Melody Federer believes that When the Dogwoods Bloom is the most personal project she has created. “When I was with a jazz musician I did a jazz album. I moved to Los Angles and did a pop album. When I get emotional or sad, I sit by myself in a dark room and close my eyes. These other songs come very fast from my subconscious. I write them quickly and I don’t control it. This is the authentic part of myself.”
Photo by Daveed Benito
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