Melba Moore written by Sandi Morais
If you don’t touch people’s hearts, it doesn’t mean anything.” Those were the words of wisdom Melba Moore’s mother impressed upon her. Decades later Melba’s work and music has touched the hearts of millions of people all over the world.
Growing up in a musical family, Melba could not escape her destiny. Her mother and stepfather supported her musical talent and gave her all the necessary tools such as, dance, voice and piano lessons to help foster her love for the arts. When Melba graduated from college she decided to become a music teacher. Although her teaching experience was rewarding and fulfilling, she still had a desire to entertain people with her music. Finally, in 1967 she followed her heart and decided to give the entertainment business a try. As destiny would have it, she was cast in the original Broadway rock musical “Hair.” Later on Melba replaced Diane Keaton in the lead role as Shelia and made history as the first African-American to replace a white actress in a lead role. She made Broadway history again when she won the Tony Award for best supporting actress with her show-stopping vocal performance as Lutiebelle Gussiemae Jenkins in the Broadway musical “Purlie” written by Ossie Davis.winning the Tony Award Melba’s career skyrocketed. In 1972 she starred in her own variety series titled The Melba Moore/Clifton Davis hour. Five years later she appeared in the movie version of “Hair.” Her success was followed by many more movie and television appearances.
Melba was also successful in her music career. Several of her music releases made the top ten charts. In 1982 her dance/club track “Love’s Comin’ at Ya” took the number five spot on the Billboard R&B charts. In 1986 her duet with Freddie Jackson titled “A Little Bit More” took the number one spot. That same year her next release “Falling” took the number one spot as well. Her 1990 recording of "Lift Every Voice and Sing," was instrumental in having the song entered into the Congressional Record as the official African-American National Anthem.
In 2003, I had the opportunity to see the phenomenal Melba Moore perform live in the Jackie Wilson Story at the Apollo Theater in New York City. Her voice was incredible. I also saw her one-woman show in 2005 while I was in New York City, and she was magnificent. Melba took her mother’s words to heart. Her God given ability to live through every note that she sings takes her listening audience through time and imagination. The audience finds themselves soaring like an eagle on the keyboard of time while listening to her five-octave range.
Today, the multi-talented Melba continues to spellbound audiences in the Gospel arena with her latest CD release titled “Nobody But Jesus.” As a former teacher, her heart still goes out to the children. She has become an advocate for children’s rights, and has established the “Melba Moore Foundation for Abused and Neglected Children.” With over forty years in the entertainment industry, Melba Moore has earned her title as a Legend.