Melanie Monsur

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Melanie Monsur wanted to be known as a composer. Perhaps best recognized for her supple piano accompaniments for the Washington Sisters, June Millington, Ronnie Gilbert, Cheryl Wheeler, Gayle Marie, and…
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Artist Biography by

Melanie Monsur wanted to be known as a composer. Perhaps best recognized for her supple piano accompaniments for the Washington Sisters, June Millington, Ronnie Gilbert, Cheryl Wheeler, Gayle Marie, and Sylvia Kohan, Monsur has also released two albums of original music: Dragonfly and Opus K4.

Monsur learned piano from the lessons that she and her siblings took. In adolescence, she rebelled against the rigorous practice of the piano and took up the guitar. Following a B.A. in music theory and composition from U-Mass at Amherst, Monsur met and got to know folksinger Cheryl Wheeler, who helped her decide to pursue a performing career.

Though Monsur's first live gig was when she was in eighth grade and she played at coffeehouses while in high school, she cites the actual start of her professional career as when she joined forces with two men and scrambled between gigs for several years. In 1983, the lure of working with other women musicians drew Monsur to the San Francisco Bay Area.

Monsur recorded her first album, Dragonfly, in 1987 -- teaming with a woman engineer and working with a low budget and no producer. Her second album, Opus K4 (the name of a synthesizer), was recorded live at June Millington's Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA) in Bodega, CA.

In 1991, Monsur moved from San Francisco Bay Area to New Mexico to have time and space to write. She later amassed a body of Mexican-influenced instrumental piano tunes. In addition, she traveled monthly to New York to perform Persian-influenced music for students of the philosopher Gurdjieff.