kawarthaICON – Melissa Payne

Up-and-coming local singer-songwriter releasing her new album

Melissa Payne (photo: Bryan Reid)
Melissa Payne (photo: Bryan Reid)

Mark my words: Ennismore’s Melissa Payne will be a household name in Canadian music in the coming years.

She already has the comfortable stage presence and raspy, well-developed voice of a seasoned musician beyond her years. Now her songs are reaching the next level as well.

“My last album was made up of a lot of songs I wrote when I was still pretty young,” Melissa says. “I have had to grow up a lot in these past three years, so my songs and music have also matured.”

The previous album she speaks of is Take My Heart, a country-rock effort that would be as suited to CBC Radio as it would be to a country station.

Her growth and evolution as a songwriter has been captured on a brand new album High and Dry, which will be released later on May 13th and celebrated with a show at Market Hall on May 9th.

It feels like Melissa is poised for big things. Recording the album at Blue Rodeo member Greg Keelor’s farm certainly does not hurt.

“His humble home and studio just has the best vibe in the world,” she explains.

Greg’s farm (in Kendal, northeast of Bowmanville) is where many classic Blue Rodeo albums were recorded, along with albums by The Sadies, Matt Barber, and many more.

“Working with Greg was amazing,” she recalls. “I’ll carry the memories of recording this album with Greg for life. Every night he cooked meals and really treated us like we were family.”

The co-production team of Greg and Peterborough musician and recording whiz James McKenty helped get the most out of her songs.

“I felt at ease the entire time,” Melissa says. “Greg and James really made these tunes shine and took them to a whole other level I wasn’t expecting. It was so great just allowing someone else to make that final call.”

Melissa also had some great musicians head to the farm: Anna Ruddick (Ladies of the Canyon) played bass, Taylor Knox (Hayden, Golden Dogs, Zeus) on drums, Michael Boguski (Blue Rodeo) on keys, and James McKenty (The Spades) pulled double duty laying down some guitar.

“This was my first time working with these players,” she says. “It was really freeing to let players who had never heard my songs before come in with a unbiased fresh approach to the songs.”

Melissa has some busy times ahead, including a tour to eastern Canada in May, a music video coming out in July, big gigs close to town including Ribfest and the Havelock Jamboree, and a tour out west in the Fall.

Although she travels a ton for music, and will continue to, her heart lives amongst the Peterborough music scene. She is proud of the community and finds it “an amazing feeling being part of something so special.”

Melissa’s connection to the Peterborough community is steeped in togetherness. She surely is not alone when she refers to it as a “being part of a pretty crazy awesome family.”

Melissa Payne’s dedication to her craft and her sheer talent make her an up-and-coming kawarthaICON.


Melissa Payne and her band perform “High and Dry” live from Sympathy For The Rebel in Peterborough

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