If you'd told Australian vocalist Melissa Forbes back in 1999 that in 2000 she would go to a Conservatorium to study jazz and contemporary voice, perform a Rick James song at her final recital and go on to graduate a University Medalist, she would have - in the words of Cole Porter - told you to get outta town! But that's exactly what happened to this former lawyer who'd let her dream of singing lie idle for almost a decade, before deciding that enough was enough.
During my time studying and then practising law, my only performance experiences were the Uni Law Review and the annual firm Christmas Parties. The thing was, I knew I performed much better on stage than I did on the receiving end of a contentious phone call from an opposing solicitor, says Melissa.
She finally plucked up the courage to audition for the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane, Australia after gentle prodding from her now husband, and was accepted. It was the first step towards a singing career.
Melissa was phenomenally successful at the Con. She won numerous awards, including the Conservatorium Medal for most outstanding undergraduate student, and received a standing ovation at her final recital, where she performed her own brand of jazz - a mix of jazz, soul and funk.
Melissa's influences range from Prince, Teena Marie, Sade and Rick James, to Chet Baker, Cassandra Wilson, Kitty Margolis, Ledisi, Rachelle Ferrell and Meredith D'Ambrosio. Whilst calling herself a jazz singer, Melissa is aware that it is a contentious label. Yes, she scats. Yes, she re-phrases. Yes, she re-interprets. She even writes her own songs. But her material is diverse.