MELISSA STYLIANOU (vocalist, composer) was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She studied Acting at Ryerson Theatre School in Toronto from 1995 to 1998, while also taking private vocal lessons from Carol Welsman from 1997 to ’98. She studied Arranging and Theory at the Shelly Berger School of Music in 2000 and 2002, and participated in both the 2003 and 2004 International Jazz Workshops at the Banff Centre for the Arts (Dave Douglas, Director).
Over the past ten years, Stylianou has established herself as a formidable talent in Canada, headlining at major jazz festivals all over Canada, including the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, the Atlantic Jazz Festival in Halifax, and the Brandon Jazz Festival in Manitoba. She performs regularly at the country's leading jazz clubs and has developed a loyal home-base audience, while her skills as a composer/lyricist have been receiving attention across Canada. In 2004, she was the recipient of a Toronto Arts Council Music Creators Grant and in 2005, she received a Canada Council for the Arts Grant for Professional Musicians which allowed her to move to New York City, where she continues to live and work.
Since moving to New York in November 2005, Stylianou has gained widespread recognition as a talented musician and composer among audiences, critics, and peers, performing with jazz luminaries including Ben Monder, Chris Lightcap, Matt Wilson, Cameron Brown, John Hart, Steve Cardenas, and Rodney Green. With the support of a FACTOR grant, she showcased at IAJE in New York City in January 2006, which lead to opportunities to perform at New York’s top jazz clubs including Jazz Standard, Blue Note, Sweet Rhythm, Smoke, Iridium, Cornelia St. Café, The Cutting Room, 55 Bar, and Birdland.
She also maintains an active performance schedule in Canada. In the summer and fall of 2006, she led a quartet on tours across Canada in support of her third independent release ‘sliding down’ (Sleepin’ Bee Music, Festival Dist.). Building on the success of her previous releases ‘it never entered my mind…’ and ‘bachelorette’, her newest album has launched her career outside of Canada and brought her to the attention of international jazz audiences and critics.
In addition to leading her own group, Stylianou is in demand as a guest vocalist with several leading groups. With the acclaimed Art of Time Ensemble, she opened for k.d. lang at Roy Thomson Hall in 2005 and performed in Moscow, Russia in May 2006. She traveled to the Indian River Music Festival in PEI in July 2006 as the vocalist with Andrew Downing’s Melodeon. On December 31, 2006 and again on New Year’s Eve 2007, she was the featured vocalist with the Bob DeAngelis Champagne Symphony Pops Orchestra conducted by John MacLeod at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. She was also showcased when the Champagne Symphony played New York City’s Carnegie Hall in early 2008 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Benny Goodman's famous 1938 concert.
In New York, she is a featured vocalist with Hayes Greenfield’s Music for a Green Planet and Gregg Bendian’s Mahavishnu Project. In Canada, she is a member of The Spitfire Band and can be seen in the hit Canadian children’s TV show Foursquare (Treehouse TV). Her music continues to gain frequent airplay on CBC, JAZZ.FM91, and other radio stations in Canada, Europe and Australia.
2003 – National Jazz Awards Nominee in the ‘Jazz Vocalist of the Year’ Category
2004 - National Jazz Awards Nominee in the ‘Jazz Vocalist of the Year’ Category
2006 - National Jazz Awards Nominee in the ‘Jazz Vocalist of the Year’ Category
2006 - National Jazz Awards Nominee in the ‘Composer of the Year’ Category