Multifaceted musician Melissa Tong is quickly gaining a reputation for her finesse and versatility, performing everywhere from Boston Symphony Hall with Savion Glover to Lincoln Center to one of the last remaining juke joints in Mississippi. Recent performances have taken Ms. Tong throughout the U.S. and Canada with Five for Fighting, with Riley Etheridge, Jr. opening for the late Leon Russell, on the airwaves with pop singer Sara Bareilles, and on Broadway as a company member of “Ain’t Too Proud: the Life and Times of the Temptations.” Her latest collaboration with Riley Etheridge, Jr., "Secrets, Hope, and Waiting," is available now.
An active performer, in addition to her work in theater, Melissa makes frequent appearances with a multitude of pop, rock, and folk artists, including Sara Bareilles, Five For Fighting, Rachel Platten, Young the Giant, Rihanna, Lucius, The Lone Bellow, Ari Hest, The Album Leaf, Wakey!Wakey!, The Dig, Greg Holden, Riley Etheridge, Jr., OSSO quartet (collaborators with Sufjan Stevens,) and Vienna Teng. Ms. Tong plays regularly with numerous ensembles including the NOVUS Ensemble, the Charleston Symphony, the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, David T. Little's Newspeak, and the Flexible Orchestra. She can be heard in the recordings of artists Sara Bareilles, Five for Fighting, Elizabeth and the Catapult, Delta Rae, The Dig, Ari Hest, The Spring Standards, and Wakey!Wakey!, among many others. TV credits include The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman, The Today Show, Good Morning America, Live with Kelly and Michael, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and MTV Unplugged. Melissa spent a number of years as piano accompanist to Grammy-winning violinist, fiddler, and composer Mark O'Connor. In addition, "Railroad Nails" Tong is half of the North Mississippi Blues duo and 2015 NYC Blues Hall of Fame inductee Pork Chop Willie, with whom she also sings and plays piano. **
Melissa attended the University of Southern California on full scholarship, where she received her Bachelor of Music degree in Violin Performance under the tutelage of Los Angeles Philharmonic Principal Concertmaster Martin Chalifour, as well as a minor in Communications and the Entertainment Industry.
Ms. Tong is a dedicated teacher in the American Music System and is certified in both the O'Connor and Suzuki Methods. The American Music System provides a number of annual opportunities for Teacher Training; for more information on upcoming workshops and camps, please visit www.americanmusicsystem.com.
Melissa has a strong belief in fostering a love of music and community in her educational philosophy and recently founded "StringJams!," a series of jam sessions in NYC for students and beginning improvisers, and "String It On!," a series of workshops in NYC designed to broaden the musical horizons of young string players. She hopes to see you at an upcoming event geared toward budding musicians!
When not rehearsing, performing, recording, or teaching, Melissa can often be found fiddling away at a bluegrass session or upside down at an AcroYoga jam. She resides in Manhattan, where she happily feeds her addictions to coffee, yoga, and Acro.
Follow me on twitter and instagram: @crankymelimet
**Care to know the story behind my blues name Railroad Nails? Come to a show and buy me a drink and I'll let you in on the story. :)