Melanie Janene Thornton (May 13, 1967 – November 24, 2001) was an American pop singer who found fame in Europe during the last decade of 20th century. She is mostly known around the world as the face and voice behind the Eurodance band La Bouche. Her most notable singles "Be My Lover" and "Sweet Dreams" were released under the name of La Bouche between 1994-1995. She also had a moderately successful solo career in Germany before her death. Her solo hits include "Love How You Love Me", "Wonderful Dream", "Memories", and "Heartbeat".
Thornton was born in Charleston, South Carolina and began studying voice from the age of six, as well as learning to play the piano and the clarinet. She grew up listening to Aretha Franklin and Roberta Flack. Thornton would mimic the female vocalists she saw on television or heard on radio. Later on, she financed her college studies with appearances in talent shows and smaller band concerts. She frequented a club called The Peacock Lounge, getting up and doing jam sessions when the live band invited people up to sing.
She had long dreamed of a career in music and in February 1992, Thornton went to Germany. Her sister lived there with her U.S. Army husband and Thornton had dual citizenship in Germany and the United States. Her uncle, Bob Chisolm, a singer and piano player, encouraged her to give the German nightclub circuit a try. She had been singing in a Macon, Ga., band, Danger Zone, pulling down $50 on a good night. However, Bob Chisolm told her that on a bad night in Germany she would make $150. Thornton provided guest vocals on a lot of dance projects on their single releases such as on Orange Blue's "If you wanna be (my only)", Comic's "I surrender to your love", 100%'s "Power of the light", Trance-Vision's "Take me 2 heaven 2 nite" or Men Behind's "Feel the life" and "How can I".
1995–99: La Bouche and "Sweet dreams"
Thornton tried it and soon found work in studios recording demos. It was her recording of the song "Sweet Dreams" that caught the attention of producer Frank Farian, the mastermind of the infamous 1980s duo Milli Vanilli. Farian took her under his wing, teaming her with rapper Lane McCray in the duo La Bouche, which is French for "The Mouth". La Bouche went on to become one of the biggest Eurodance groups of the 90s, with a string of hits, worldwide. They released two studio albums "Sweet dreams" and "S.O.S.", with "A moment of love" being the European version of "S.O.S.", the remix album "All Mixed up" followed by a string of hits like "Sweet dreams (Ola ola e)", "Be my lover", "Fallin' in love", "I love to love", "Bolingo (Love is in the air)", "You won't forget me" or "S.O.S.". In the following year she would leave La Bouche in February 2000 to be replaced by Natascha Wright. Next to La Bouche, Thornton continued providing guest vocals on singles such as Orange Blue's "Sunshine of my life" and "Runaway", 100%'s "The way it is" and on Le Click's U.S. chart debut "Tonight is the Night" in 1995".
She signed a record deal with Sony/Epic Records. Her first solo single was released in November 2000, titled "Love How You Love Me", a ballad (the CD-maxi includes a few dance remixes). Thornton presented her new single on November 29, 2000 on the RTL Spendenmarathon, and on December 1 at the Dome in Berlin. The follow-up singles were "Heartbeat", "Makin' oooh oooh (Talking about love)" and "Memories". On May 7, 2001, Thornton released her first (and only) solo album entitled Ready to fly under the label X-Cell, distributed by Sony/Epic Records. The album featured a mixture of soul and dance tracks that showed off her powerful voice. There was also a Special edition of the album released later in 2001 featuring some remix bonus tracks and bonus songs such as the single "Wonderful dream (Holidays are coming)". Thornton continued to do club appearances in the United States under the billing "Melanie Thornton, formerly of La Bouche". She was featured on Joy-Lab's single release "Freedom (Free your mind)" in 2001.
On the night of November 24, 2001, Thornton died in the crash of Crossair Flight 3597 outside Bassersdorf near Zürich, Switzerland, at the age of 34. Thornton had just given what would soon become her final performance in Leipzig and immediately afterwards taken the ill-fated flight from Berlin to Zürich for upcoming radio and TV appearances (among others, the broadcast "Die Bar" on TV3, which was cancelled) to promote her new single "Wonderful dream (Holidays are coming)" (a Christmas ballad recorded for a German Coca-Cola TV commercial) and her album Ready To Fly (New Edition). The flight departed Berlin Tegel Airport at 21:01 CET with 28 passengers, 3 flight attendants and a two-man cockpit crew (33 in all). Nearing Zürich about an hour later, the flight was cleared for final approach in poor visibility due to low clouds. At 22:07 CET, the plane crashed into a wooded range of hills near the small town of Bassersdorf, around 4 km (2.5 miles) short of runway 28 where it broke apart and experienced an intense post-crash fire. Of the 33 people on board, 24 perished including Thornton and two members of the Eurodance group Passion Fruit. The disaster was featured in season 10 of the Canadian Discovery Channel documentary program Mayday, but without mention of Thornton. Thornton is buried in Mount Pleasant Memorial Gardens, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Although Thornton's death occurred practically on the eve of that year's Christmas season, Coca-Cola decided to stick with the commercial as planned. The original commercial has been aired in Germany every year since 2001 around Christmas time, and the song has been in the German single charts every year since. It has also aired in several other countries. On November 25, 2002 the single "In your life" by La Bouche with Thornton, returning posthumous on lead vocals, was released to commemorate the first anniversary of her death. Included is an "in memory" dedication from Lane McCray and SonyBmg/X-Cell Records. The single has been included in the first La Bouche "Best of" compilation (Credited as "La Bouche feat. Melanie Thornton") in May 21, 2002. In December 1, 2003, another remix compilation called "Memories - Her Most Beautiful Ballads" has been released containing her ballads and songs in acoustic ballad versions. In April 2, 2007, the second La Bouche compilation "Greatest Hits" has been released.
Sweet dreams (with La Bouche) - Released June 12, 1995
S.O.S. (with La Bouche) - Released: June 16, 1998
Ready to fly - Released: May 7, 2001.
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
Melanie Thornton in the news
|Songs by Melanie Thornton|