“Brand New Key” Singer Melanie Dead At 76

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

“Brand New Key” Singer Melanie Dead At 76

Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Melanie, singer of the 1972 hit “Brand New Key” and a notable performer at Woodstock, died at age 76 on Tuesday. The news was shared on Wednesday by her children Leilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Melanie Safka was born and raised in the Astoria, Queens. In the 1960s, she performed in cafés and folk clubs around Manhattan before signing a contract with Columbia Records, where she released two singles before signing with Buddah Records. In 1969 “Bobo’s Party” reached #1 in France and her experience performing that year at Woodstock (where she one of three solo female artists) inspired her first hit in America, “Lay Down (Candles In The Rain).”

After Buddah Records wanted her to produce albums on demand, she exited the label and started her own called Neighborhood Records with her producer and husband Peter Schekeryk. She then unveiled “Brand New Key,” which hit #1 on the Hot 100 in 1972. Others hits of hers include “Peace Will Come (According To Plan)” and her version of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday.”

In 1972, Melanie became an ambassador for UNICEF. She continued making music until her death and was in the studio earlier this month working on covers album called Second Hand Smoke. In a Facebook post, Melanie’s children ask that fans light a candle in her honor tonight. Read their full statement below.

A message from Leilah, Jeordie and Beau Jarred

Dear Ones,

This is the hardest post for us to write, and there are so many things we want to say, first, and there’s no easy way except to say it… Mom passed, peacefully, out of this world and into the next on January, 23rd, 2024.

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.

We ask tonight, Wednesday January 24th, at 10pm central time, each of you lights a candle in honor of Melanie. Raise, raise them high, high up again. Illuminate the darkness, and let us all be connected in remembrance of the extraordinary woman who was wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and friend to so very many people.

We are planning a Celebration of Life for Mom and it will be open to all of you who want to come and celebrate her. The details will be announced as soon as they are in place. We look forward to seeing you there.

At this time please allow us, her family, privacy as we grieve for her, remember her, and figure out how to navigate this crazy world without her.

Thank you all for your love – you meant so very much to her.

Love and Peace,

Leilah, Jeordie, and Beau Jarred

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