Best known for lighting up the charts with hits like “Midnight Blue,” and “Don’t Cry Out Loud,” prolific singer-songwriter Melissa Manchester has continued to live and breathe music. She recently released her first studio album in 10 years, You Gotta Love the Life, which features performances with Stevie Wonder, Al Jarreau, and other renowned artists. Manchester recently took a break from her post as an adjunct professor at USC Thornton School of Music to go on tour. The singer, who became acquainted with Naples years ago when her in-laws lived on Crayton Road, will enchant concertgoers with her ebullient show, presented by TheatreZone at the G&L Theatre, Community School of Naples, February 18 and 19 (tickets cost $50 and $75; call 888-966-3352).
What inspired the new record?
An album is a platform to reflect what you have been through, and what you’re seeing in the world. The title, You Gotta Love the Life, lays claim to my almost 50 years of being an artist. I wanted to address show business from my perspective, which is the grit and grind, but also the joy that keeps peeking through.
Why the long time between albums?
I took a true sabbatical from the industry because I couldn’t figure out my part in it. From the mid ’80s, records became more and more the genre of the producer and less and less about the artist. Also I had two children to raise, and I wanted to make sure that they knew I was the mother and not the nanny. The reason it took so long from the album in 2004 and You Gotta Love the Life is the industry I thought I reintroduced myself to looked nothing like the industry I had left in the ’90s. It took me a long time to find my way back in. My students helped me find my way back into the world of independent artists. One of my students became my campaign manager when I started an Indiegogo [crowdfunding] campaign for this album.
What is the best advice you ever received?
Probably it was from Paul Simon. I was able and grateful to study song writing with him when I was 17. I always hear him when I’m starting to write a song. He always talked about your stamp of authenticity. As a writer, all the stories have been told, he said, and it is only your take on it that is your stamp of authenticity.
Photo by Randee St. Nicholas