2010’s Woman To Watch: Melanie Fiona

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When celebrating Black History Month, people tend to look back, instead of forward. And we don’t blame them. After all, it’s in the title – “history,” meaning all things memorable about the past.

But here at HelloBeautiful, we’d really like to call attention to not only those who made a difference or broke the mold, but those we feel will in the near future. The next couple of ladies we plan on profiling in “10 Women To Watch For In 2010″ are on their way to having a big year, and maybe even a bigger career.

MELANIE FIONA

Some of the best advice 26-year-old soul singer Melanie Fiona ever received was from Kanye West. Regarding her budding career, he told Fiona, “What ever you got to do to make the mother f***ers remember you, do that.”

And so she did. She won over an entire audience, full of music lovers and harsh critics. Proof? Her debut album “The Bridge” was released just three months ago, and she already has a Grammy nomination under her belt for its breakout single, “It Kills Me.” Granted, the award for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance went to Beyonce, but ask Fiona if she minded, and she had this to say:

“That’s okay because the company I’m in feels like a Grammy (win) already. I have to pay a lot more dues before I get to her status.”

It’s this kind of humility that’s kept us intrigued. Well, that, and her voice, of course. In a world full of oversexed and underqualified singers, Fiona stands out by having more grit than glam. Her ability to mix new school hip-hop and R&B with old school soul and tinges of reggae can be credited to her upbringing – she grew up in Toronto as a first generation child of Guyanese immigrants.

“West Indian cultural mentality and a North American life equals the perfect balance. My dad used to play guitar in a band and my mom was always listening to big vocalists.”

“It Kills Me” – reached #1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart

Whose Is Better? Melanie Fiona vs. Rihanna’s “Redemption Song”

“The Bridge” is a retro-soul record that has samples from The Zombies, the Softones and Martha & the Vandellas, among others. Though eight of the 12 tracks borrow from older songs, Fiona says her goal was to pay homage to the records that reminded her of her childhood.

Well, it seems to have resonated. The album has earned her a NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding New Artist, and has caught the ears of Alicia Keys, who Fiona is now set to go on tour with.

“Give It To Me Right”

GALLERY: Melanie Fiona & Melyssa Ford Kick Off Super Bowl Weekend

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