GROUP MACY GRAY/CHAYANNE
Melena, born in Havana Cuba, has mastered the traditional rhythms that have traveled from Africa to Cuba, to the dance floors of America. Her Afro-Cuban sound is a conversation of melodies which she plays with fierce passion. Melena is a multi-talented percussionist who plays Congas, Timbales, Bata Drums, and Shekere. She is an artist who exemplifies the sound of legendary players from the past, to the modern sound of today.
Melena's formal training began on the drums when she was a teenager. Master percussionist Luis Conte was instrumental in shaping her early development. Melena returned to her native country of Havana Cuba several times to study privately with the Conjunto Folklorico Nacional De Cuba, as well as with many gifted percussionists on the island such as Miguel "Anga" Diaz, Yaroldy Abreu, Jose Miguel Melendez, Roberto Vizcaino Guillot, Adel Gonzalez, Cristobal Larrinanga, Mario Jauregui, Daniel Herrera, and Jose "Pepe" Espinosa.
Melena has toured, performed, and recorded with legendary artists such as Barry White, Stevie Won-der, Macy Gray, Julio Iglesias, and Chayanne. Melena fronts her own Latin Jazz and Afro Cuban Salsa band. Festivals Melena has performed at with her band include: Jazz at Drew, African Village Festival, Santa Barbara Caribbean Festival and Brownsville Latin Jazz Festival, where Melena was blessed to share the same stage with her biggest inspiration, Giovanni Hidalgo!
Melena also conducts Master Classes nationally and internationally such as Montreal Drum Festival, Puerto Rico Music Conservatory, Percussion Gallery (Ponce, P.R.), Los Angeles Music Academy, Seattle World Rhythm Festival, Brownsville Universtity, Remo Drum Center, Braille Institute, Boys and Girls Club, and more. She conducted a clinic and concert performance at the Percussion Festival in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Backup musicians for her live performance included Eric Figueroa, Musical Director of Batacumbele.
Melena has also been featured as a guest musician for several recordings and live DVD/PBS specials for artists such as John Tesh, Eva Ayllone, Peru Negro, Joel Holmes and Unwrapped Vol. 2. & 3. Melena was also the featured percussionist for the HBO Loco Slam Comedy Series with Carlos Mencia. In addi-tion, she was featured on the television show "Prison Break" playing congas alongside actor Amaury Nolasco.
The summer of 2010 had Melena headlining at festivals to include Altadena Summer Festival, Manhat-tan Beach Summer Concert, and Richmond VA Latin Jazz and Salsa Festival. She was a featured guest percussionist on the television show "El Show de Fernando Hidalgo" in Miami, Florida. She has packed the house at Steamers Jazz Club in Orange County for five consecutive months, being asked back by popular demand. She has recently played with Poncho Sanchez, Frank Cano, Jose Rizo's Mongorama Band, and in Miami, Florida with Mario Ortiz, Jr., Ray De La Paz and Chino Nu