Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Things To Do

July 7, 2011

Ellis celebrates album with Palace concert

CROSSVILLE — When it rains, it pours. This usually carries a very negative connotation, but for local girl, Melissa Ellis, it can only mean one thing – A whole ‘lotta’ good happening all at once! For the last year she has successfully made her living as a full-time musician, playing at various venues from Knoxville to Nashville, gaining momentum in her rise. This month alone she is celebrating the release of her second CD, “Just Me”, at The Blind Zebra Sports Bar & Grill July 16 from 7 to 11 p.m., and a week later she will be headlining a concert at the Historic Palace Theater July 23. To top it all off, she has just signed a book deal for her novel, “ShadowShifter,” with Passionate Writer Publishing. Life can’t get much better in her eyes.

Like many singers and songwriters, Ellis got her start singing in church and the rest is history in the making. With a style that has been referred to as “Southern Soul,” it may come as a surprise that Ellis is a transplant southerner, raised by two Midwesterners. At the age of 16, she caught the eye of local theater director Jim Crabtree of the Cumberland County Playhouse while performing in a high school play. From there, she was regularly found on stage at the Cumberland County Fairgrounds, political functions and, of course, at the Cumberland County Playhouse. But it wasn’t until 1994 when she took on the role as Denise Sanders in “Smoke on the Mountain” that a young girl’s dream started becoming a reality. Meeting every challenge that came with the role including acting, she became more than a singer but a musician at that time.

“I was raised on old gospel and bluegrass gospel, so it was a good thing that ‘Smoke’ was a bluegrass gospel musical. I already knew almost every song in the show, so that freed me to focus my efforts on playing guitar, mandolin, banjo and upright bass,” she said.

Ellis continued with “Smoke on the Mountain” as she attended college studying both music and theater. She even took part in the regional tour when she wasn’t in class. While living in Knoxville, she began dabbling in the bluegrass scene and even fronted the Melissa Benjamin Band for a few years. In 2008, she met Lewell Molen of MoJo Recording Studios in Greenback, TN, and was offered her first opportunity to record.

“I’m a Christian and there has never been any doubt in my mind that my musical gift is from God. I had always said that if I was ever given a chance − just one chance − to record a full length CD, I would make it a Gospel CD,” she said.

And that’s exactly what she did. In March 2009, Melissa released her debut CD which featured many familiar gospel-grass pieces as well as her own rendition of “Blue Bayou.” She also penned one of the songs about her hometown “Crossville,” which was adopted in April 2010 by the city of Crossville as the official song.

With a strong jazz/blues and soul style, her music has been set apart from the rest. Some may remember her from other local productions such as D-Squared with Dennis Donald as well as with Country Western performing artist Tommy Dee Davenport.

In her shift from Bluegrass to her “Southern Soul” music, she is finally able to use her passion for jazz, blues, soul and pop. She cites artists like Brandi Carlile and Norah Jones who have inspired her greatly in this current chapter of her musical journey. Her song “Southern Spitfire” has been slowly becoming a hit, often being requested by fans when she plays out, so it was inevitable that it would make the cut on her latest CD that she co-produced with Terry Ashburn, “Just Me.”

“‘Just Me’ is very special to me. No major labels. No fancy recording studios. No studio musicians. No extra background vocalists. I do it all. The whole CD is just me – with a little help from a few friends in production,” she said.

The CD is full of some of her favorite hits as well as two of her own songs, “Southern Spitfire” and “Boy Next Door”.

“My life here in Crossville has inspired me so much that you can find it in almost every song I write and sing. Even my novel, ShadowShifter, takes place right here on the Cumberland Plateau. It’s a young adult paranormal romance. Very Twilight meets Crossville, TN, but with werewolves and more horror. I love my hometown, clearly!” she said.

On July 23, Ellis will be taking the Palace Theater stage to give an intimate performance of her own music as well as a few popular covers of yesterday and today, showcasing her talents not only on vocals but on guitar and piano. With a top-notch band supporting her (featuring the Rev. Landon Amonett of Cookeville, Matt Clyde of Murfreesboro, and another Crossville musician, John Johnson), Ellis will be bringing a well blended concert of pop, blues and soul. That night she will also have her CD, “Just Me,” readily available for purchase. “Just Me” can also be found at Dat Pro Audio. Tickets are currently on sale at the Palace Theatre. Call 484-6133 for more information.

1
Text Only
Things To Do
  • front page news.jpg "Front Page News" held over in Dayton

    Cumberland County Playhouse and its producing partner The Scopes Festival in Dayton, TN, have added three more performances of "Front Page News," the newly adapted, historically accurate play with music, currently being staged in the historic “monkey trial” courtroom in Dayton’s Rhea County Courthouse.  Additional shows of the new work are Saturday at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m., and the final show Sunday at 2:30 p.m. All times are EDT.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • granville.jpg Scarcrow Walk set Oct. 4-31 in Granville

    The Second Annual Granville Scarecrow Walk will be in Historic Granville on Oct. 4 through Oct. 31.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conlee Color HI.jpg Conlee to perform at Palace

    John Conlee is a lot like the songs of which he sings. He lives a domestic life with his wife Gale and three children, Rebecca, Jessica and Johnny. During the past two decades, Conlee has achieved a level of success that he has sustained by simply being himself and by making records that the listening public can relate to. He is a gifted entertainer, but he’s not into the glitz and hype of the entertainment world. He’d rather spend his “off the road” time working on his 32 acre farm outside of Nashville or engaging in his woodworking and gunsmithing hobbies.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • City Lites.jpg 'Friday Night Air' features City Lites

    The “Friday Night Air” summer concert series continues Friday at the Spirit Broadband amphitheater in downtown Crossville with the City Lites Band. They are a very popular four-piece band from Crossville that has performed throughout Tennessee and the Southeast for more than three decades. Their lineup features Marty Gibson on guitar and vocals, Flavy Miller on bass and vocals, Glenn Holverson on saxophones and Wade England on drums. The song list includes a wide variety of musical styles from swing, country, '50’s and '60’s, rock and more. Something for everyone to enjoy! The performance is free to the public and begins at 6 p.m. and is sponsored by the Historic Palace Theatre and the city of Crossville.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gypsy, Front Page News open this weekend

    They're gearing up for a very exciting week both at the Cumberland County Playhouse and at the Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton!

    July 17, 2014

  • LexVinDance260_2.jpg Vintage Dance Society opens PAART season

    The Performing Arts Alliance of Rural Tennessee (PAART) is pleased to announce the first event in it’s 2014-15 season: the Lexington Vintage Dance Society will perform "Downton Abbey Era: The Titanic to the Jazz Age" in period costumes. This performance will take place Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. at the Palace Theatre in Crossville.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • gypsy hombres.jpg Gypsy Hombres take stage Sunday

    For years, there has been a persistent legend in Nashville about a crazy gypsy ‘Fiddler on the Roof” who dances as he plays the violin on the roof of his Victorian house. Cumberland County Playhouse will prove the legend is 100 percent true as The Gypsy Hombres take the stage Sunday.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 'Gypsy' opens July 18 at CCP

    Beginning July 18, everything’s coming up roses as the Playhouse brings one of the greatest American musicals of all time to life… “Gypsy”! From the unforgettable first notes of its legendary overture to the final white hot spotlight, “Gypsy” is considered by many to be “the best musical ever,” as it tells the story of the archetypal stage mother, Rose, and her daughters, June and Louise.

    July 10, 2014

  • wildman.jpg ‘Wild Man’ takes Palace stage Aug. 23

    Look out, Crossville, here comes the coolest guy in town and his name is Rafael R. Soriano, also known by fans everywhere as “Wild Man,” but he calls himself “Wild Man Billy Ralph!”

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • KOTR Steven Whitson Picture.jpg 'An Evening with Steven Whitson' to benefit Kids on the Rise

    ds on the Rise will be hosting a fund-raising concert Aug. 2 at the Palace Theatre. The local non-profit agency will present An Evening with Steven Whitson.

    July 2, 2014 2 Photos

AP and the Gulf Oil Spill
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide