Melanie founded WeFreeStrings, an improvising string/rhythm collective rooted in improvised music in 2011. From 2004 – 2013, under her Bb Universe banner and in collaboration with the multi-generational, multi-ethnic Scientific Soul Sessions collective, Melanie’s Harlem home became the scene of underground public performances by WeFreeStrings and other large and small music ensembles. Bb Universe hosted open rehearsals and performances, recordings, lectures, one-act plays and films including presentations by recognized indigenous activists Toaksin Ghosthorse, a performance of Robbie McCauley’s Sally’s Rape and a screening of John Douglas’ documentary, Grenada: The Future Coming Towards Us. These monthly and semi-monthly events brought cultural luminaries, emerging artists, social and environmental activists, working and under-employed people together. Open dialogues, emphasizing individuals as agents of change, were central to Bb Universe and Scientific Soul Sessions.
Melanie currently performs with the Sun Ra Arkestra, Heroes Are Gang Leaders, Gwen Laster’s New Muse 4tet, William Parker, Tomeka Reid Stringtet, Patricia Nicholson’s Women w an Axe to Grind. She’s played and/or recorded with Henry Grimes, Nona Hendryx, Joe Bonner, Reggie Workman, Howard Johnson, and a many other notable musicians in Europe, South Africa and across the U.S.
Recordings include WeFreeStrings Fulfillment (Indepstrings, 2018), David Haney’s Birth of a City (2019), Come Sunday (T. Cumberbatch, 2015); Fred Ho & Quincy Saul Present the Music of Cal Massey: A Tribute (2011); Live at St Nick’s Pub, Salim Washington & Donald Smith Ensemble, Cadence Records (2007); With Strings, Salim Washington & The Harlem Arts Ensemble, CIMP Records (2007); Harlem Homecoming, Salim Washington & The Harlem Arts Ensemble, UJam Records (2005), and others. WeFreeStrings has received project support from New Music USA, Chamber Music America, Bonfils-Stanton Foundation, and individual donors.
Recent AFA Performances:
July 29, 2020 On_Line Salon w/ Mara Rosenbloom & Sam Newsome