A Hillsborough Community College Student Publication since 1978.
~ Krista Byrd
She picks up her guitar and closes her eyes. Breathe. One, two, three… Open. She flashes her bright smile at the crowd as they hold their breath in anticipation for the first note.
For many people, pursuing their dream of singing is a fantasy. Many of us have already given up on our dreams, or are becoming weary enough to seriously reconsider chasing them with such abandon. To Melissa Brethauer, 24, and a former HCC student from Riverview, Florida, using her talent and chasing her dream was the only path she could imagine pursuing.
Brethauer is not your typical 24 year old. She drives a motorcycle, has a college education, recorded her debut album “Waiting” at 19, has played historical venues like the House of Blues on the Las Vegas strip, and has toured and played music festivals across the southeast United States. I will stop before this
Most people just want to know how she did it.
How did she find time, resources, energy to pursue her passion and her degree? How, in a world full of ‘No!’ did she find her ‘Yes’?
“Life takes us down so many unexpected paths and anything can happen, so I stay most encouraged by taking things one day at a time,” she said.
The Riverview native started singing when she was three, and grew a serious interest in instruments at seven. She knew that she was meant to be a musician from that point on. In high school, she amazed her classmates, winning talent shows, and playing at the local talent competition, Brandon Idol.
After high school, when most of her peers were trying to pick a major more serious than “Under Water Basket Weaving”, she was not only pursuing her bachelor’s degree, but was also writing music and producing her debut album with the help of her music management team at Now Hear This. “We [Now Hear This] began working together in 2006, and I give much credit to Now Hear This for most of the opportunities I’ve had to expand my music endeavors,” she said.
There was no more waiting for Brethauer, and she jumped into the studio as soon as she could.
This was a lot of work for someone fresh out of high school. The high demands of her music career and her college career were constantly fighting for her attention. “There are so many challenges in this business, but for me, the biggest challenge has been finding a healthy balance with my music life and my social and working life,” she said. She adds, “My college years (full-time) were especially tough because I had to make a lot of sacrifices. When I wasn’t working my part-time job or in class, I was traveling playing shows. More often than not, I had to spend my free time, or make time if I didn’t have any, in between music events writing papers and studying for exams. Somehow I managed to still graduate with my bachelors within four years and with a decent GPA.”
Her family and friends have been a big support and inspiration during all of the time she has spent working toward her goal. She is recently married, and has a wonderful support system.
As much work as being a musician is, Melissa has found time to enjoy incredibly rewarding moments. The title song on her debut album made it to the top 50 in in MusicTampaBay.com’s Top 100 Songs of 2009. She is also ranked in the top 15 on ReverbNation in Atlanta for her genre. She has made numerous television appearances, and even completed a radio interview in New York with Blues Hall of Famer, Sonny Rock.
Radio shows, TV interviews, and charts are not the reason she loves to sing, however. It is performing that gives her a rush unlike any talk show or news program. “I remember playing in downtown Nashville one night and John Legend and John Rich (from Big & Rich) happened to be in the crowd listening!” she exclaimed. “Playing in front of people never gets old to me. Even though I’ve done it hundreds of times, I still get nervous from time to time.”
For Brethuaer, the sky’s the limit.
She is working on her sophomore album and continuing to write her own music. “‘Waiting’ was a great learning experience for me. I now have a much better sense of both my musical identity and what I expect of the recording process than I did at age 19. The vision I have for my next album is more of a folky, stripped-down and acoustic feel,” she said.
What does the future have in store for Brethuaer?
She predicts, “In five years, as long as I’m still challenging myself as a musician and pursuing some music opportunities, I will be happy.”
Her album “Waiting” is available on Amazon, iTunes, and CD Baby.
For more information visit MelissaBrethauer.com