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‘Brand New Key’ singer Melanie, who found fame at Woodstock, dead at 76

Melanie Safka, the singer who went by the mononym Melanie famous for songs including “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)” and “Brand New Key,” has died. She was 76.

The news was shared with CNN by Billy James of Glass Onyon PR, who said Melanie died on Tuesday. A statement was also shared to Facebook on Wednesday from Melanie’s children. No cause of death was provided.

Originally from New York City and the daughter of a jazz singer, Melanie released two singles and an album in the late 1960s, but it was her appearance at the Woodstock Festival in 1969 that cemented her breakthrough.

She wrote a song about that experience, 1970’s “Candles in The Rain,” which became Melanie’s first US hit.

Other hits from the singer include “Peace Will Come,” “The Nickel Song” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday.”

Due to her growing frustration with her record label at the time, Melanie went on to found Neighborhood Records, the first female-owned independent label in rock history, according to an obituary from Cleopatra Records provided by Glass Onyon.

Melanie’s 1971 hit “Brand New Key” – her first single for Neighborhood Records – later enjoyed a resurgence of popularity as a featured song on the soundtrack for Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1970s-era “Boogie Nights” from 1997.

After largely withdrawing from the spotlight to pursue other passions including becoming a spokesperson for UNICEF, Melanie remained an independent artist for much of her career, releasing albums throughout the 1980s and 90s, along with a 2010 record, “Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me.”

Melanie remained active up until the end of her life. She published her memoir ”Lake Days” last year, and her final tour, in late 2022, took her to the Netherlands. She also had a newly-inked deal with Los Angeles-based Cleopatra Records, according to that company’s obituary.

Earlier this month, the singer recorded covers of songs by Morrissey and Nine Inch Nails for an upcoming tribute album, what would have been her 32nd studio album, a collection of covers tentatively titled “Second Hand Smoke.”

Melanie is survived by her children Leilah, Jeordie and Beau Jarred.

In their statement on Facebook on Wednesday, her children wrote that their mother “was one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the era and every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected that.”

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