Melanie, singer at Woodstock with chart-topping song ‘Brand New Key’, dies at 76 years old

Death is an unfortunate part of life that, as humans, we must accept. The death of an entertainer that we admired can always cause heartbreak as well. Just because we did not know them personally does not mean that it won’t affect us.

Keep reading to know about the death of Melanie, a singer that many loved and admired.

Folk singer Melanie, who gained fame by playing at Woodstock in 1969 has passed away at the age of 76 years old. The news of her death was reported by her PR agency, Glass Onyon PR. Perhaps her most famous song was “Brand New Key.”

Melanie, whose full name was Melanie Safka had been active in the music scene just earlier this month. The cause of her death has not been revealed as yet. She was working on her latest project, Second Hand Smoke, an album set to be released by Cleopatra Label. The label confirmed that this would have been her 32nd album.

She is survived by her three children Leilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred. They shared their emotions on Facebook. The post about their [mother’s] death read, “We are heartbroken, but want to thank each and every one of you for the affection you have for our Mother, and to tell you that she loved all of you so much! She was one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the era and every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected that. Our world is much dimmer, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today, but we know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars.”

They also asked fans to honor their mother’s family by lighting a candle on the January 24th, at 10 p.m. Central Time. Their message reads, “Raise, raise them high, high up again. Illuminate the darkness, and let us all be connected in remembrance of the extraordinary woman who was a wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and a friend to so many.”

Melanie’s first big musical hit was “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” a gospel-influenced track she made with Edwin Hawkins Singers. This song rose to number 6 on the Hot 100 chart in 1970. Following this, in 1971, she released a song that made a big mark on the world, “Brand New Key.” The song was even interpreted by some as a children’s melody. But others also interpreted it as a song filled with sexual undertones. It soared to number 1 on the charts, marking her only other top 10 hit in the U.S. In the UK, she also gained significant recognition with her rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday.”


Melanie talked about “Brand New Key” in a 2021 interview where she expressed mixed feelings. She said, “It was the bane of my existence for a few years.” It was originally meant to be a blues number, which was accelerated to enhance the commercial appeal. Despite being loved by so many, it was not her favorite song.

Despite her famous tunes, she was not as well recognized as some of her contemporaries like Joni Mitchell. She spoke about this in an interview, saying, “It wasn’t the age of smiling women,” adding, “It had to be much more broody and I was way too cherubic. Men can be cute. Randy Newman can sing ‘Short People’ and that’s OK because he’s a guy, he’s got something to say. But a girl? How could she possibly have any social significance?”

When she was flown into the Woodstock Festival in 1969, she was not that well known. She later recounted her experience for Rolling Stone, in honor of the festival’s anniversary in 1989 and 2019.


Reflecting on her iconic performance, she said, “I had my first out-of-body experience. I was terrified.” She went on, “I just left my body, going to a side, higher view. I watched myself walk onto the stage, sit down and sing a couple of lines. And when I felt it was safe, I came back. It started to rain right before I went on. Ravi Shankar had just finished up his performance, and the announcer said that if you lit candles, it would help to keep the rain away. By the time I finished my set, the whole hillside was a mass of little flickering lights. I guess that’s one of the reasons I came back to my body.”

In recent years, her music was given a new interest when Miley Cyrus covered her song, “Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma” with Melanie by her side.


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