Some may know her as Jan on “The Office.” Others may know her as Roxie Hart from Broadway’s “Chicago: The Musical.” And still others may know her as Melora Hardin, a singer whose voice commands an audience. No matter how she’s expressing herself, Melora is a true performer who thrives on sharing her passion for the arts with her fans. Read on as she talks to us about the range of her latest album “All The Way To Mars,” how her stage, film, and television work influence each other, and what we can look forward to down the road.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind your latest album, All The Way To Mars?
My Producer thought it was a good idea to do a record that really showcases my voice and the range of styles and qualities within my voice. That’s why we chose a cross section of songs, each one selected to highlight some specific quality of my vocal range. So there is Broadway, Pop, Standards and some of my original songs too.
You were on Broadway not too long ago, starring as Roxie Hart in Chicago: The Musical. Was including show tunes on your album the natural thing to do?
I absolutely loved being on Broadway as Roxie in Chicago. Using all three of my performing passions, singing, dancing, and acting, all at once, 8 times a week, was a total high for me. We knew that we wanted to include some great Broadway songs, for the sheer fun of performing them and getting to use that wonderful vocal range.
What was your recording process like for the album?
Because different genres are represented on the record we felt we needed a unifying element, which is why we decided to record the album live, meaning we were all in the studio together playing and singing simultaneously. We recorded each song an average of 3-4 times and then chose the best take. It’s a raw record in that regard. Not all ‘pro-tooled’ out. Very few fixes. Pretty much what you hear is what we did in the studio on that day.
Are you adventurous in the type of music you sing? If not, is this something you might try down the road?
I absolutely love singing every kind of music. I love folk, pop, country, broadway… I’ve even tried singing some opera and loved the technique and the discipline. I think it’s great to try everything and I tend to do that in my life whenever I can—whenever I’m truly interested in something. I don’t, necessarily, think everyone needs to HEAR everything I try and I tend to rely on my producers and collaborators to help me choose wisely.
How do you engage with your fans?
I love meeting people in person after my shows. It’s particularly special to hear from the audience how the music affected them. That’s really rewarding. I try to do some Twitter and Facebook though I’m not great at that yet and tend to find myself tweeting in spurts. I’ve enjoyed meeting the fans who join me there, though. They seem really nice and are certainly kind to me about all that I do. I also have a website,www.melora.com, which I’m in the process of revamping, so I can update that more often and be more proactive with information on there. I really enjoy human connection and get tired of the computer and phone easily, so my favorite is when someone comes up to me and says, “I saw you sing here or perform there and I really enjoyed it.” In the end that’s who I do it for.
What’s your live show like?
It’s intended to be an opportunity to get to know me, Melora, better. It’s a look inside and behind the actor that people know and my characters that have made me famous. I hope people feel like they’ve gone on a musical journey with me and have a feeling for the real me through the music and my stories by the end of the show.
How do you market your music? Do you use social media?
As I said before, I’m still learning about social media and its power. I try but it’s not really my thing just yet. I don’t know if it ever will be, to be honest. I love the thought of reaching all those fans and I wish I had more passion for it, but all I really want to do is perform. I wish other people would take care of the social media thing and the marketing part for me, in a perfect world. I know that’s not really realistic these days so I do what I can to stay active with Twitter and Facebook, and some months I do better than other months depending on what I’m engrossed in at the time. In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he says it takes 10,000 hours to really become an expert at something. I have honed my singing, dancing, and acting for many, many years, way over 10,000 hours by now, but social media is really not my skill set and I just don’t know if I can ever get in those 10,000 hours on Twitter and Facebook, but I’ll keep on trying…
You have quite an impressive acting resume, many know you for your role as Jan in “The Office.” How do you keep the promotion of your musical career separate from your acting career?
I have no idea… how DO you do that? You know this is all a learning experience for me and we do specific publicity to highlight the music and other stuff that highlights the acting but in the end they are both part of me. I’ve been writing songs since I can remember. My Mom will tell you I wrote my first song when I was 2 years old! Ha, funny, but, she’s always right about this stuff, so I wouldn’t begin to argue with her… I’ve been singing all my life, dancing since I was 5 years old and acting professionally since I was 6 years old. It’s all just part of me so to compartmentalize it would feel funny. They each feed into the other and I just NEED them all to be happy and as part of my creative expression!
How does your stage work influence your television/film and vice versa?
I’m about to start another Broadway play. This one is a non-musical farce called “Don’t Dress For Dinner” (they’re calling it the sequal to “Boeing Boeing”) at The Roundabout Theater (opening April 26th, 2012) and I just completed filming my new, 1 hour comedy for TBS called “Wedding Band” (airing in June 2012) where I will sing sometimes. I also recently had my Feinstein’s debut doing my singing act in December of last year. All of these are such wonderful complements to each other. Each one has its own exciting challenges, required skill sets, and of course, fun. The intimacy of Feinsteins is totally different then performing on a Broadway stage, and the medium of Television totally different than the others for so many reasons. Film is yet another expression of creativity that I love. They all co-exist in a similar, yet totally different universe, thus, keep things exciting, fresh and new. I love them all and plan to always be bouncing around in between, wherever they welcome me to show up. Applaud loudly and I’ll be there!
What can we look forward to from you musically in the months and years to come?
I’m currently writing songs for my next record, as well as doing my singing act around the country. I’m excited that people can hear me sing one of my original songs, “A Boy And His Cat” on “Wedding Band” and our fabulous musical directors/composers on “Wedding Band,” Stephen Gold and Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne fame, have chosen two other great songs for me to sing on the show. So I’ll plan for more singing on “Wedding Band” next season and I’ll continue singing live as much as I can, try to remember to Tweet and update my website… and work at chipping away at what my next record will become. Wow! So much to do!!