“Little Wishes” is the title of the self-produced CD that Melissa Walker peddled at her singing gigs early in her career, but it also serves as a refrain for how she has directed that career. Born in Edmonton, Canada, she was raised in Marquette, Michigan by Dr. Jean Walker, familiar to all of us at the jazz house as “mom,” and Dr. Arthur Walker, a scholar and athlete who played professional football in Canada. Both parents taught at Northern Michigan University. Melissa grew up in a bi-racial home that stressed excellence, education and resilience.
Their home was filled with music, and Melissa studied bassoon in grade school. She graduated from Brown with plans to become a lawyer, but opportunities in music kept growing. So she followed her heart and became a successful jazz singer, releasing 4 award-winning CDs, performing around the world, and working with some of the top names in the business, such as Hank Jones and Kenny Barron. Many of them became mentors.