A young woman overcomes extraordinary odds to find herself & her place in the music world.
|DREAMS DON'T DIE: DIARY OF A WOULD-BE POP STAR
(A Series of Creative Nonfiction Books By Melanie J. Saunders Based Upon Her Life as Recording Artist "Melody").
Memoir 1989-2002 (*Indicates That A Name Has Been Changed)
Comprised of actual journals, this is the unbelievable true story of one ambitious young woman who overcomes extraordinary odds in her quest to find herself and her place in the music world, as freestyle artist "Melody".
Warm, witty, shocking and sexy, "Dreams Don't Die" provides a rare inside view of life as an up and coming entertainer in all of its grit and glory. Set primarily on Long Island in the 1990's this brutally honest memoir details the personal and professional exploits of not only the author but a number of her now famous friends with whom she shared a dream. It is an unusual story of survival and self-discovery--a journey that takes the reader well beyond the backstage door and into the heart, mind and soul of a young woman determined to make something of herself despite the many obstacles set against her. Awkward and insecure, she is an unlikely heroine. Surviving near-fatal eating disorders, lung and breast disease and crippling anxiety/depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, the devastation of divorce and challenges of single parenthood, she learns that her greatest accomplishment will be not in entertainment but in the conquering of fear and the attainment of self-reliance. This uncommon account-which also follows her public search for her birth mother and famous birth father- is likely to appeal to a wide audience of the young, the young at heart, to those interested in pop culture and everyone who have ever aspired to stardom, health and happiness.
ALL THAT GLITTERS
Fame's early feel; Anxiety & Depression
In this first of ongoing journals that follow her life, we meet 18 y.o."Melody"--a real life nerd-turned rising pop star, at the time she is first "discovered". Born and abandoned on Manhattan's lower east side and later adopted and raised on Long Island by kind-hearted upper middle class parents (including a father who is then the president of their parish church council and a British mother whom with she spent summers abroad), she is both blessed by their love and haunted by the mystery of her past. While attempting to adjust to life in the spotlight, she privately struggles to cope with crippling depression, insecurity and anxiety disorder. While still a teen in high school, this pop-dance music artist achieves fm radio airplay, lands a prominent manager and perks the interest of both well known and lesser known record labels. While on the way to her first meeting with Select Records she is confronted on a Manhattan street by a knife-wielding assailant.
EATING MY HEART OUT
Music Performance; Romance; Scandal; Anorexia & Bulimia
Melody opens for "Andreus 13" (formerly of Public Enemy) on tour dates and following an intermittent relationship with former Tennis Federation player Edwin Bello-meets and becomes involved with Singer *Jonnie A (then of rap group *"Brooklyn Crew"). During the filming of live tour footage for her first professional music video there is a mishap that results in a comical (but shortly survived) blooper reel. She wins the 1990 Long Island Teen Talent Competition and appears at the Harry Chapin Lakeside Theatre. While booked at the Meadowlands to appear on "Salt-n-Pepa's" cable TV show as a special guest and negotiating her first potential record contract she is the subject of undue scandal, and loses both opportunities along with her agent. She fights and finally beats the ongoing eating disorders which nearly take her life.
DARE TO DREAM
Modeling & Film; Cancer; Religion; Sexuality
In 1991 Melody wrote and recorded "The Mysterious Mr. Jones" which she dedicated to "Monkees" forever foxy frontman Davy Jones-one of her greatest musical inspirations. During one of his New York performances she dares to slip backstage and gives a copy of the song to his manager. She soon meets Atlantic recording artist Joey Kid (later of C&C Music Factory and Trilogy) and then becomes involved with male supermodel *Adrian Valdez (*Name changed). When he lands the lead in an upcoming film, she is presented with her first opportunity to contribute to a movie soundtrack... Blossoming professionally and sexually she is exposed to daunting new experiences, including the unwanted advances of her best female friend and the personal effects of diagnosis with possible breast cancer. Following a falling away, she rejoins the Church, and receives miraculous healing!
Hollywood; Modeling; Competition;
Melody is a finalist in 1992's Star Quest competition on Long Island. There she meets (and eventually falls in love with) the infamous Ian Crawford--who is both an actor/recording artist (then working with Sony Records) and a third cousin of the late great Hollywood silent movie star Rudolph Valentino. She finds a new manager--legendary actor-producer-director Richard Dixon (who is best known for discovering and developing the talent of Eddie Murphy, Rosie O'Donnell, Billy Crystal, Kevin James and Jerry Seinfeld, among others)--and begins her brief modeling and dancing career. This former socially awkward plain Jane tries to fit in gracefully where she still doesn't believe she belongs.
REAL MEN & OTHER MYTHS
Dance; Drugs; Awards; Search For Birth Parents;
Melody too late discovers *Adrian's costly drug involvement and consequently loses face with acquaintance Shanti Jones from 80's pop band Times Two. After their break-up she befriends Polygram recording artist Ronnie Divito (Aka "GQ") and Bossa Nova Beatniks percussionist George "Ding-Ding" Meier, earns a performance award (as the years final vocal winner in the WBAB FM Radio talent competition, hosted by Bob Buckmann and judged by Sony Music's Vice Pres.) and-with the support of her adoptive parents--furthers the search for her birth parents. She has difficulty dealing with the unexpected discovery that she was in fact, a drug baby, abandoned on Manhattan's lower east side.
EAST OF IAN
Independence; Television; Financial trouble
At 22, Melody enjoys her first taste of true independence when she gets her first apartment 1600 miles from her parents--who finally acquire their dream home and establish a horse farm. Melody makes her first national television appearance and is the subject of a horrendous "joke" which- for reasons both unbelievable and true-proved disastrous for her relationship with Ian. Despite career advances, she struggles financially, and when she is robbed of a month's income, she faces hunger and homelessness for the first time in her life.
DANCING ON EGGSHELLS
Search reveals Famous Father; Illness; A Stalker
A determined Melody both petitions the court and appeals to the media for help in her search for her true identity. With the help of a sympathetic insider-- she received the startling news that her birth father was a musical celebrity but determining who will require further research. The task is temporarily shelved when she is faced with life-threatening pulmonary histoplasmosis and spends a cold, lonely winter battling its effects. She learns she has a stalker, who further upsets her sense of security-following her for over a year and finally attempting to kidnap her.
ON THE WAY UP
Video; The Hamptons; Romance; Acting; Money
Melody appears in an Arista Records music video for former flame Ian Crawford's song "Do You Like What you See?", and begins exciting work out in the Hamptons. There she eventually moves to be with new companion-the much older Colombian born, former Miami-based singer-songwriter *Pedro Maltoban. She's working hard but loving it. While working as a leg model she is offered the female lead in a TV movie-tentatively titled "The Parking Lot" in which Rosie O'Donnell was also slated to appear. Unable to raise the necessary funds, the project is shelved indefinitely. Despite this new setback/disappointment the near success provided Melody with some press and for the first time she enjoys a more lucrative lifestyle, associating with some of the East End's wealthiest and well known. She thinks she's finally really on her way up.
THE HIGH LIFE
Drugs; Pregnancy; Abuse; Travel; Cancer
Melody continues to be plagued with lung disease. Addicted to cocaine, her live-in boyfriend *Pedro becomes increasingly abusive and controlling of the now pregnant young woman. She is forced to refuse further offers for work, thus losing her livelihood. Ian (C) attempts to 'rescue' her and rekindle their romance, offering to raise the child as his own. In an effort to escape the possessive *Pedro, Melody flies out to her parents horse farm in rural Oklahoma--which proves unsuccessful when he follows her across country. During their brief separation, they learn he has cancer and--devastated by the news--Melody agrees to return to NY to care for he and their newborn son. Melody learns that her biological maternal grandparents were early NYC radio star (and formerly of "Jerry & The Delmars") Elsie Bramer and NYC bank accountant, German immigrant Henry M. Bramer. At last provided her birth mothers name Dorothea (Dottie) Bramer, she begins to unravel the woman's painful past. She begins to truly appreciate the adoptive parents with which she has been blessed.
SIGNS OF LIFE
Baby Born; Cancer; Television; Birth Mother prostitute;
Pedro undergoes surgery and chemotherapy, during which the couple and their young son survive with little money and little outside intervention. During this time-following a second television appearance, with the help of the NYPD and a private investigator's guidance she obtains police and other records (including photos) revealing that her birth mother was not only a junkie but a prostitute-found dead on Halloween night in 1988. She is thrown by the news--especially when she realizes she is physically her birth mother's spitting image. She recalls a near rape on the street years before and now realizes with horrific clarity that she was in fact mistaken for her own birth mother.... She is comforted to learn she has a surviving aunt and two male cousins who are anxious to contact her.
GO WEST, YOUNG WOMAN
Prison; Travel; Culture Shock & Isolation
Pedro is ultimately arrested and jailed on drug and fraud charges. Melody takes this opportunity to flee; returning with her parents to the Midwest for what she believes will be another temporary visit. There she hides out, for a time truly missing in action to her agent and others in her life--including Ian and Jonnie, who first feared for her safety and now unable to reach her, begin searching for the singer.. Far from everything and everyone else familiar, she must adapt to a different way of life in the modern day wild west. Transformed from quasi pop star to quasi farm girl in a single 28 hour road trip she now must contend with less urban dangers, such as rattlesnakes, horse thieves and loneliness. She is grateful for her family's assistance but is lost to the world with which she is most familiar. Will the dream survive so far from its source?
AT WITS END
Death; Harassment; Court; Peace; Family
Melody wonders whether she will ever truly recover emotionally, financially, professionally. Following the further loss of three Grandparents, her favorite Aunt and a beloved ex-boyfriend, she becomes markedly depressed. Pedro follows her out to Oklahoma, and makes her life a living hell. For a time Her only joy is in watching her infant son blossom into a remarkable little boy--for whom she must fight to keep in court. Pedro finally relents and leaves temporarily to Florida (to be with his new Russian model girlfriend) while Melody enjoys the first moments of peace and promise since moving west.
A BAND-AID FOR A BROKEN HEART
Car Wreck, Religion; Internet Charts, Travel; Remarkable Romance
Melody rediscovers the meaning of life when she and her son are miraculously saved from a devastating car wreck. Inspired, she begins recording music again-assembling a 3 song EP that soon topped the internet music charts. (One song of which-titled "Saving Myself" she recorded at home while the devastating Oklahoma May 3 tornados plowed through outside, within a mile of her parent's farm.) After befriending Aussie band "Pander"'s notorious front man Nathanial Abbey and brief involvement with American minor league baseball player JonMichael Garcia, she unexpectedly meets Germany-based artist *Michael Degeest online. Now 28, she is intrigued by the attractive 24 year old Belgian, who woos her with a painting, shipped across the Atlantic. During his surprise visit from Europe over the turn of the Millennium, they fall in love and become engaged.
Birth Father; MANY Siblings; Travel; Sex & Marriage; Separation; The 9/11 terrorist attack
When finally "found" by her birth father's family, Melody is shocked to discover he was legendary half-Seminole Indian country music star "Jimmy J.D. Cook"-of Grande Ole Opry fame. The 14th of 16 known children born to the late legend, her discovery casts her further back into the spotlight. Through photos, recordings and recanted tales of his life and times from her surviving siblings, Melody begins to know both her Native American and Musical heritage. Following a five month return to Germany to settle business and personal affairs, Michael immigrates to the US. Their new life together proves immediately more challenging than either he or Melody anticipates. The couple marry, but soon separate due in part to Pedro's return and resumed harassment. Under the stress of marital problems and the shock and grief of the 9/11 U.S. terrorist attack, Melody suffers some heart trouble and is thrown into a state of prolonged panic. Heartbroken, Melody fights to hold on to love amid chaos.
WISH I MAY
Fame; Book; Television; Music; Ambition; Agoraphobia
Upon the completion of his new book, Hollywood how-to "THE TALENT FACTOR" (in which she is mentioned, selected as one of entertainment's top 100 acts)) Richard Dixon informs her that after almost a decade NBC is interested in "The Parking Lot" project. Now too old for the teen lead, he offers her a supporting role--providing she can conquer her current case of agoraphobia and make the return to New York. A rekindled friendship with freestyle king Joey Kid (Thanks to now salsa star George LaMond) is all the more reason to consider the move. For the time being, she attempted to market herself from the Midwest, relying upon online music communities and connections. Now having appeared in a TV series with Mira Sorvino, worked with Tony Bennett and graced the pages of Newsweek magazine as a national spokes model for the BOTOX injection cosmetic procedure (He doesn't need it!), Ian hits the big time. With the support of the freestyle community, Melody readies to submit her first full length series of books (about which you now read) for publication. Slowly, Melody and Michael rediscover their feelings for one--another. They face the possible pregnancy and early loss of their first child together.
FACING THE MUSIC
Cancer Scare; Love; Stress; Mental Illness; War, Book & Music
Melody is one again faced with a cervical cancer scare and once again through the grace of God defies death. With new war with Iraq looming and career opportunities at hand, she refuses to waste another day of her life. She determines to restore her young marriage and career. She is offered a job by LawTown Records/Media (who work with many well known artists, including Cyndi Lauper, Jordan Knight and Samantha Fox, among others) as a pr writer. She is invited to attend the Boston Music awards with Bylli, Jade Starling (formerly of Pretty Poison) and Jordan Knight (formerly of NKOTB) in Sept of 2003 but plans fall through. She is asked to contribute songs to the new albums of good friends colorful dance music artist "Bylli Crayone", C&C Music Factory/Trilogy star "Joey Kid" and stunning salsa star Victor Vega's new solo albums. She perks the professional interest of renown Grammy-award winning producer Edwin Ramos Jr. (Best known at that time for his work with Angie Stone, TKA, R.Kelly, Mary J. Blige, Tri-ni-tee and his contributions to the Ali movie soundtrack). With her old eqiptment broken and unusable, she begins to start trying to save and raise the money for a new home recording studio, in order to take advantage of these new opportunities. Just when things seem to be taking a monumental turn for the better, Pedro is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and must prepare for the end, an unhappy Michael threatens divorce and good friend Bylli-days after reaching the number one spot on London, England's club music chart is critically injured in a car crash on the way to a performance!
For the now thirty-something dreamer, it is the moment of truth. Melody will finally learn just what she is made of. Life is never without both its triumphs and trials, the handlings of which very often define us. Dealing with Death, staving off Divorce and facing an uncertain future, Melody's courage is tested. The ultimate lesson learned throughout this remarkable story is that though it may sometimes be hard to see the sun through the storm-it continues to shine. Dreams don't die. Not for Melody, not for Bylli, not for Ian, Joey, Jonnie or even Pedro, who's most successful cd is released posthumously. For as long as there is breathe to be used we will sing, we will strive, we will dream, we will survive....
Flesh & Folly pass with time
But Dreams and Spirit never die.
DREAMS DON'T DIE: DIARY OF A WOULD-BE POP STAR
(A bit presumptuous perhaps, but it sounded better than "The Continued Rantings Of A Long Island Nobody"!)
It is a wonder I and the modest work before you survive. This book in one form or another has survived moves from New York to Miami and then out to Oklahoma-by car, by train, and by plane. It has survived both theft and flood-where-after I laid out pages to air dry and then deciphered and retyped every blurry one. It survived a car wreck and more than one hard drive crash (which required hours of data recovery and delving through garbage pails for the original handwritten copies.). It has survived the ambush of teen, toddler and animal alike-crumpled, torn, eaten. And this decade long effort almost met its final end one frustrated evening when I tossed my notebook into a dumpster and very nearly set fire to it.
"NO!", My husband cried, climbing in after it. He appealed to me as though I were about to commit murder, taking into his arms the literary baby I'd borne, nurtured and watched grown into a five hundred page NIGHTMARE. "Have you lost your mind?!"
"Of COURSE I have!", I screamed, through tears. It was an agonizing process, this business of writing, and I wanted no more of it. I was spent, done. There was nothing left. Not a single adjective, noun (or insanity induced EXPLICATIVE) left to write, type or mutter under my breath. So let me weep. Let me wail. Let me rot in bed with a pint of Haaggen Daas. And that I did, while my loving-if somewhat shaken-husband put my novel safely away. Until this period of disgust passed. It was a love and hate relationship between book and I.
"You'll get it back", he comforted. The passion for words, he meant. I always did. It was like a rash that would come and go, a bug that would take me-and all of me-until it had run its full course. But such is the nature of obsessive love. Scratch. Scratch. Sweat. Vomit. Sigh.
When I was most lost in the tangles of literary web-spinning it was Pulitzer prize-winning author of "Angela's Ashes" Frank McCourt who-via telephone across country- returned me to both my senses and my purpose. I had sought his professional advice and he so graciously provided it.
"Why do you feel the need to complicate things?" he asked. "There isn't some secret trick to writing. Just tell your story, Melody. Just tell your story."
Genius, I thought. Genius crammed into a lively little Irishman. Genius and common sense, which in that frenzied state both escaped and eluded me. Though his words to me were few, they were vital. And so to you, dear man, I owe a debt of gratitude. Without your brilliant voice and vision I might never have found my own.
SEVERAL EXCERPTS FROM THE VARIOUS BOOKS IN THIS SERIES CAN BE READ ON MELODY'S OFFICAL WEB SITE, ALONG WITH PHOTOS AND COMPLETE BIO/RESUME:
Please share your honest comments and suggestions with me! MizMelody2001@yahoo.com
WORDS OF PRAISE:
Of "Dreams Don't Die" : This is a real-life look at the path to fame with all its ups, downs, and the reality of becoming "almost famous". It's a behind the scenes expose that, in the end, reveals the ultimate humanity behind all celebrities - They aren't extraordinary people, they're simply caught up in extraordinary circumstances that can - and sometimes do - bite back.
--Anthony Hernandez, Motivational Speaker, Entrepreneur, Author of the science fiction series "Biography Of An Earther Saga" and Acquisitions Editor for The Rebecca Pratt Literary Agency.
"In "Dreams Don't Die" you will find a street smart survivor paving her way towards self-fulfillment. On that road with its many dips and curves you somehow relate to the humanity of the circumstances. In Melody you find persistence, talent, and most importantly--a best friend."
--Ian Crawford, Actor/Model/Recording Artist, Pal Extraordinaire
"There are millions of talented Americans--some even "make it" in show business in spite of the monumental odds against it. Melody is one who might do it yet--overcoming a mountain of bad luck, bad decisions and bad advice. Melody has many talents--she sings, composes music, writes books, acts--with a face the camera loves and a pair of legs Miss America would love to own. Above all, Melody is determined. If any talent in America can make it, she will. Melody has earned it. She's a pleasure to work with and I'm proud to be a part of her future success."
--Richard M.Dixon, producer, director, Actor (Presidential look-alike) and author of "The Talent Factor".
"She's an amazing writer and a positive influence, with love both for music and for people."
--Joey Kid, Recording Artist now with C&C Music Factory & Trilogy.
"Melody is a very talented woman,--not only a skilled singer, but an experienced, professional writer with an entertaining, easily understood style and a life story that leaves readers at the edge of their seats, and yearning for more!. Her strength is inspiring! I have enjoyed her work and eagerly await more to come!"
--Danielle G, Freestyle Fan & New York City Music Critic
--Joey "Danger" Altura, Master Music Editor and CEO of State Of Mass Entertainment.
"Melody's music is timeless and her attitude terrific! Her book is an excellent read and an insider's view to the music and entertainment industry."
--Nathaniel Abbey, lead vocalist for the Australian rock band "PANDER".
"I had the privilege of teaching Melanie (Melody) Saunders piano and songwriting as a child and on into her teenage years. Although quite talented on the piano, it became rather evident that Melody's true gift was that of songwriting. Rarely have I come across a student who has exhibited such an ability to compose catchy pop melodies. Anyone considering her work will agree that she has what it takes to become a significant influence in the music industry!"
--Dino P. Ascari 4/11/03, Musician/Songwriter, Founder of The Malverne School Of Music and Author of "The Art Of Effective Piano Teaching".
Thu, 15 May 2003
I think you are a very creative person with a lot of potential to go far in this world. Your website is incredible! You are also a very good writer. I know a lot of times it's about knowing someone to get somewhere. Eventually -soon, your time will come. Do not give up or look back. Proceed as if you are on a one way street....to Your Destiny. It could come at any day from any direction.
~Marcia Delaney. / LawTown Music
A wonderfully kind and much appreciated email from recording artist "Damian Wild" :
March 30, 2004
I found your posting on a writing message board and read the plot outline of your book and the excepts you had written...
Wow! That is some story...you have had quite a full life so far....I can relate to a lot of things in your story....my life has had different but just as dramatic events and I am also an aspiring singer who is now working on a novel (but mine is a work of horror fiction)...you can find out more about my own musical experience at www.damianwild.com
I read the excepts of your book and I had to write to tell you that you have a great gift for writing. I have read some dreadful attempts at writing online by people who do not stand a snowball's chance in hell, but you have a professional flair and a way of crafting your words that makes a reader interested and anxious to continue on.
I hope all is well with you and I hope your book goes to the top of the bestseller list where it deserves to be...
Damian Wild (Recording Artist) www.damianwild.com