Lebo alum nominated for Nashville Independent Music Award
Mt. Lebanon High School graduate Melanie Meriney knew she wanted to pursue her dream of being a country music artist at an early age when she saw Shania Twain in concert.
“My mom always listened to country music,” Meriney said, and seeing Twain in third grade sealed the deal that she wanted to perform.
“I thought she was awesome,” she said. “I thought, ‘that is the coolest job in the world.’”
Soon after seeing that concert, Meriney began taking voice lessons and writing songs.
Recently, Meriney was nominated for a Nashville Independent Music Award in the Best Female Country Solo Artist category.
Meriney, who graduated in 2009, also knew she wanted to go to college in Nashville, and in 2012 she graduated from Belmont University with degrees in English and song writing. Now she is studying for her master’s degree in teaching and plans on teaching high school English while still pursuing her music career.
Meriney describes her music as country pop and said her EP, “All the Good Songs,” is “very country pop.” She said she does try to do her own thing with music and make it “a little more organic” by adding a lot more acoustic guitars and mandolins. Her band includes two guitarists and a drummer and Meriney sometimes plays acoustic guitar.
She added that she plays local Nashville venues with her band as well as solo gigs, and she also writes all of her songs.
“I’ve attempted to write songs as far back as third grade,” Meriney said. She said in college her roommate was also a song writing major, so they often wrote together. She said living in Nashville, there’s no shortage of people with whom to write songs.
“I love country music,” Meriney said, but added that not all of her musical influences are country artists. “My dad listened to Fleetwood Mac,” and she said she really likes Sheryl Crow.
Shania Twain is Meriney’s most influential country artist, but said she listened to Taylor Swift in high school and really enjoys Phil Vassar. “He’s an amazing songwriter,” she said.
Meriney said it’s surreal living in Nashville, which is the place to be for rising country music artists. She added that when her EP came out last year, it got local radio play in Nashville for more than a month.
“It was crazy. I was sitting in the parking lot of a Target,” Meriney said of the first time she heard her music on the radio.
As for the Nashville Independent Music Awards (NIMA), Meriney found out about a week ago that she was nominated for best female country artist. The awards were developed in 2004, but this is just the second year that country music categories were added.
According to NIMA’s website, the primary purpose of the awards is to recognize independent Nashville musicians, “along with supporting and nurturing the musical community.”
“I was really excited,” to be nominated for the award, Meriney said. She is also excited about any support she can get for the awards from her hometown of Mt. Lebanon and the South Hills.
Anyone can vote for the awards – not just those in Nashville. Online voting can be found at www.nimadigital.com/vote and ends Aug. 20.