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Melita Music
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About Me

 

Short Bio

Melita is a singer/songwriter, folk musician, childrens' performer, and ceremonial song-leader based out of Berkeley, CA. She is the founding member of Octopretzel, a popular children's band based out of the Bay Area, and has also recorded and/or co-produced a number of CDs in the realms of both singer-songwriter folk as well as children's music. Her newest release is entitled Light Within.

Melita has also worked as a music specialist for young children for over 15 years.   She currently teaches music classes in several preschools and other venues for families in the Bay Area.  She holds a degree in eco-psychoplogy from the Naropa Institute, and also a certification in early childhood education. She has received training in an array of teaching modalities including Waldorf, Montessori, Reggio Emilia, Music Together, Orff Schulwerk, and Yoga for Kids.  Melita also co-founded and for some time facilitated "rites of passage" groups for girls aged 8-11. Last but not least she is the mother of a bright 11 year old girl.

"Melita's songs are the cosmic lullabies that every baby should have sung to them upon entering the world. Her music is the orientation to being a human that you never got when you were born. Her songs are balm for the spirit."

 

Longer Bio

Melita Silberstein has had a complex and colorful journey through music, weaving in many different elements - cultural, ecological, spiritual and personal.  For her, music has been the natural outflow of the deep personal work she has done over the course of her life.

Thanks to her encouraging family,
Melita started learning piano at age 4, writing songs at 9, and teaching herself guitar at 15.  She grew up in St. Louis, Missouri with her two older sisters and parents, recent immigrants from Johannesburg, South Africa. As a young child, Melita loved to perform, regularly holding shows for her parents, sisters, friends, cat, or as a last resort, her stuffed animals.  By age 5, she had memorized hundreds of songs and rhymes, that she would recite to anyone who would listen!  In her late teens, she made her first recording, a tape titled “Exist Dance.” These songs were written at a time that marked the beginning of her interest in nature and spirituality.

After studying anthropology at UT Austin, Melita transferred to the Buddhist-inspired
Naropa University in Boulder, CO and majored in Ecopsychology and Religious Studies, an education that has informed and inspired her musical career. While still in school, Melita was gifted time in a professional studio and recorded her first CD “Shalem,” a set of deeply thoughtful original songs narrating her journey of self-discovery at the time.  Melita later went on to earn accreditation as an early childhood educator, and taught at a number of progressive, Waldorf-inspired schools both in Boulder, and then in Berkeley, CA.

Melita graduated from Naropa in 2000.  Following an eight-month journey to Israel, and a series of international
Rainbow Gatherings, Melita moved to Berkeley, and fell naturally into Northern California’s emerging conscious music community.  When she and her friends, a group of musicians and puppeteers, turned an old movie theatre into a recording studio for a week, the result was “The Adventures of Kid Kaleidoscope,” a rootsy, fun-loving, consciousness-raising album of original songs for children.  Kid Kaleidoscope performed for years at festivals and benefits including the Oregon Country Fair, Harmony Festival, EarthdanceSalmon Aid, and Google’s Halloween Extravaganza in Mountain View, California.

Melita then performed for three years with the all-female acoustic ensemble
Ya Elah, directed by Bon Singer, former director of the acclaimed Balkan a capella group Kitka, and appeared on the group’s 2004 CD “Each of Us” produced by Grammy-nominated guitarist Alex de Grassi.  During this time, Melita also performed and recorded with Hamsa Lila, a San Francisco-based world fusion band, that became a catalyst of Northern California’s conscious music scene.

In 2005, Leilah Meadow came into the world, born at home.  In the year following the birth of her daughter, Melita created her first solo album with producer, Ben Krames of
Jungleshack Music.  This album merged many of the genres that had attracted her: singer-songwriter originals, meditative chants, children's songs, and contemporary folk music.  What emerged was “Delicate Web,” an eclectic compilation of acoustic folk music, ethnic instrumentation, and thoughtful lyrics.  Melita has performed as a singer-songwriter for many years, collaborating with other accomplished artists such as Shimshai, Donna DeLory, Tina MaliaMurray Kyle, Eliyahu Sills of the Qadim Ensemble, and The Human Revoution.

Melita’s interest in children’s music grew along with her daughter, and soon she put her work as an educator together with her love of music.  In 2006 she began teaching music throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, first as a
Music Together teacher, and then she branched out on her own.  She now incorporates elements of Music Together as well as Orff-Shulwerk into her own unique style.  She has worked as a music specialist at a variety of organizations for children and families in the Bay, including preschools, elementary schools, play cafes, zoos, city parks, and public libraries, and more!  

Melita also holds music class series out home for parents and children.  Using puppets and an array of acoustic instruments, she inspires little ones to discover their creative spark through song, story, movement, and dance.
  
In 2008, Melita completed "Earth Dream Lullabies" - an album of songs about the Earth and its creatures, the stars, and the forces that unite all beings on our planet.  With this album, Melita's hope was to connect children and their parents to a sense of the sacred in this world we live in, something that has always been very important to her.  

This album was a direct outflow of Melita's passion for eco-conscousness, her love of animals, and general earth awarensss.  She has put a lot of energy into this facet of her life. Another manifestation of that is the Gaia Girls program, a rites of passage program for 8-10yr old girls that she co-facilitates in Berkeley.


In 2007, Melita founded
Octopretzel along with Sarita Pockell, a whimsical bluegrass-inspired folk band and puppet troupe for kids and families, whose highly-spirited shows regularly generate “kiddie mosh pits” at well-known music venues in the Bay Area, such as Ashkenaz in Berkeley, the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Marin, and La Peña Cultural Center in Oakland.

Octopretzel recorded their first album in 2008, another in 2011, and will soon release their third album.


Octopretzel continues to generate a vibrant and diverse following in Northern California.  Their music stretches across genres and connects generations, appealing to people of various backgrounds and all ages, young and old. They have shared the stage with other popular kids’ bands such as
Orange Sherbet, the Sippy Cups, Charity and the Jam Band and Asheba

Melita has also worked extensively with the Jewish community in the Bay Area as well as nationally.  Melita has performed throughout Northern California at Jewish agencies and venues, such as the
Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Bureau of Jewish Education, and for the Jewish childrens' distribution organization, the PJ Library.
She and Octopretzel perform annually in synagogues and Jewish community centers throughout the Bay for Hannukkah, Passover and Purim celebrations. 

Her album, "Shirei Gan Shalom: Songs in the Garden," was distributed nationally by the PJ Library in 2011 and now again in 2014, was inspired by her daughter's beloved preschool, Gan Shalom, and is a collection of songs for children with Jewish and Hebrew content.  Melita has recently collaborated with another Bay Area Jewish song-leader,
Isaac Zones, and recently co-produced an album together with Isaac called "My Roots Go Down".  Melita and Isaac recorded this album at the acclaimed Little Buddha Studios in San Rafael with John Alevizakis, co-producer of several albums for
Music For Little People.

Over the course of her colorful and unconventional career, Melita has continually striven to bring an authentic voice to her music, in whatever form it has taken.  She aspires to truly connect with people through her songs, and seeks to touch her listeners in a way that opens them up to the joy and magic that we share in this world.

 




interview by Paul West, Gnosis Media

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