Born and raised in the beautiful Monterey Bay Area, Melissa Garay grew up singing in school and church choirs, where she discovered her love for music. She later performed with many local Bay Area bands where it became apparent that her voice was a force to be reckoned with. There are few singers that can match her extraordinary vocal range, and even fewer singers that have the ability and vocal technique to sing equally as brilliant in traditional jazz, opera, R&B, mariachi Afro-Cuban, and Latin jazz music.
She has graced the stage with the lead vocalist for Santana Tony Lindsay, the legendary Jazz guitarist Randy Vincent who has toured and recorded with Dizzy Gillespie, Bobby Hutcherson, Joe Henderson. She has also shared the stage with bass player Chris Amberger who toured and recorded with Art Blakey, the Jazz Messengers, and George Shearing. She has worked extensively alongside with percussionist Mingo Lewis who has worked with Santana, Al Di Meola, Chick Corea in the Return To Forever tour, Billy Joel, and the Tubes.
Along her musical journey she has earned multiple degree’s in Music and most recently completed a Master’s Degree in Music, concentration in jazz studies from San Jose State University. During her time at SJSU, along with the Afro-Latin jazz orchestra, Melissa got the opportunity to study abroad and perform in Havana, Cuba, during the summer of 2018. Melissa is currently the lead vocalist for several established Bay Area ensembles such as the New Acoustic Collective, Colectivo, the Latin Jazz Collective, Saboricua, & Liberacion. She is also a co-host for the TV show “California Scenes” a five-year long-standing project between the city of San Jose and Comcast.
Melissa is currently working on her solo self-titled album showcasing her musical influences ranging from jazz, R&B, Afro-Cuban, Latin jazz, tejano, and mariachi. Her first single was released on February 14, 2020 “Amor Prohibido” featuring guitarist Jason Keiser, and bassist Rodrigo Ruiz, honor the late Selena Quintanilla-Perez, with a heartfelt rendition of one of her biggest hits. A completely stripped-down acoustic version of this Cumbia, is transformed into a breathtaking folk-rock ballad, reminiscent of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.” Available on all digital platforms.