Today we’d like to introduce you to Melissa Dougherty.
Melissa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY, but grew up in Las Vegas and San Francisco. I began playing piano and guitar when I was seven years old and continued playing music with my friends in Las Vegas while I was in high school. My first band was with my good friend Ronnie Vannucci.
I later went on to study guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA, and eventually graduated from Whittier College with a double major in English and Religious Studies and a minor in Art History. I’ve played and toured with many artists in the States and internationally (Grace VanderWaal, Florence + the Machine, The Killers, Jack White, Pearl Jam, Imagine Dragons, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Tokimonsta, MILCK, Neon Trees, Eastern Conference Champions). I also teach guitar at the Silverlake Conservatory of Music in LA when I’m not on the road.
I’ve had the honor of playing many amazing venues throughout the years – Madison Square Garden, Red Rocks Ampitheatre, The Forum, LoveLoud Fest, Rock Werchter Festival, Hurricane Festival to name a few.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Being a professional musician definitely has its struggles and challenges but overall, for me, it has been a worthwhile and wonderful career choice. As a woman of color you definitely encounter racism and sexism which is obviously very unfortunate. However, I believe that knowing your own value, worth and what you bring to the table are the keys to overcoming such negative forces. It also helps to surround yourself with positive people who dream big and aim for the stars. For me, I feel as though I have made a lot of sacrifices personally to get to where I am today. I’m pretty much always playing music, learning new tunes, going on the road for months at a time. I suppose that every career comes with sacrifices but I’ve been able to move forward and excel while doing what I love so that’s been a great reward for me personally. Plus I love to travel and see new places and I really love the touring aspect of my job.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a musician who’s main focus is guitar but I play bass, keys and makes beats. When I’m not touring I teach guitar, work with a songwriting group for young adults at the Silverlake Conservatory of Music and also teach privately. I think that what sets me apart from others is that my spirit is very positive, joyful and invigorating. I work with a lot of professional musicians and also with a lot of people who just want to play guitar with their kids when they go camping. I don’t hold one above the other and truly believe that music enhances everyone’s lives. I am definitely a cheerleader and encourager to everyone whom I work with. I want everyone that I come in contact with to walk away inspired and joyful so I try to bring that to each and every work situation that I find myself in. It’s a pleasure to share the joy of music with the world.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I don’t know about that word “luck”. People say that I am lucky to be doing what I’m doing and I always find that comment to be a bit peculiar. I’ve been playing guitar since I was seven which basically means that I’ve been practicing, gigging, learning, studying, rehearsing ever since. I definitely believe that being in LA has helped me significantly career-wise but it’s not like one day I just got lucky and, boom, I’m playing Madison Square Garden. As far as bad luck, life hands you the sweet and the sour and I’ve always believed in embracing all the good and the bad things while all the while believing that the gift of music would prevail. It sounds cheesy but music has been the most constant and incredible companion to me in some very dark times and obviously very bright times. I suppose I am lucky that music found me at a very young age and gave me confidence, joy and something to rely on.
- Instagram: @melissamuzak
Ezra Thorne www.ezrathorne.com