As newly-elected Mayor of Pine Lake, Melanie Hammet offers a biography at least as eclectic as the music she creates. From working on a shrimp boat in the Gulf to sharing the stage with many southern musical luminaries, from providing grief counseling support for schools, teachers, and youth to serving on the city government in Pine Lake, GA, Hammet’s rich personal history informs her leadership and her music.
Melanie’s years as elected official in her home city have created many opportunities for artistic growth and civic leadership. Hammet was the 2011 president of the Dekalb Municipal Association, a 9-city collective of Dekalb’s cities (Pine Lake being the smallest). Melanie also worked for three years with a team of residents to revamp local zoning to ensure greater protection the natural and built environment of the city. Hammet also served as Pine Lake’s liaison for the federally-funded reconstruction of the city-center lake, creating a blog and a series of interactive signage in the city’s urban wetlands.
In 2009 Melanie Hammet was chosen as an artist resident in Seaside, Florida where she wrote the music for “Edifice Complex (and other urban plans).” Inspired by her years in elected office, the songs reflect both her concern and knowledge about land use issues and her talent as an artist, with music as musically rich as it is vested in the tradition of songs about land, home, and place. Performing the songs from “Edifice Complex,” Hammet has traveled across the U.S. and shared the urban design stage with luminaries such as Liz Plater-Zyberk, Dhiru Thadani, and Robert Davis. She has been featured as a keynote speaker/performer and panelist on many facets of urban design issues including public space and a variety of land-use challenges in small cities.
With more than a dozen recordings to her credit, Hammet’s songwriting often takes on subjects that at first glance may seem non-musical–or at least difficult to wrap a melody around. Melanie’s recent partnership with Georgia Innocence Project resulted in the collaboration with Clarence Harrison and songwriting partner Ben Holst. Clarence’s wrongful conviction, 18-year imprisonment, and 2004 exoneration by Georgia Innocence Project serves as the blueprint for the music and performance “Life 20|20.” Hammet serves as executive producer for LIFE SENTENCE, which has created unique outreach, resources, grant awards, and dollar donations for Georgia Innocence Project. The song”(DNA) Do Not Assume” was selected as a musical theme for the Robert Redford-produced 2014 CNN series “Death Row Stories.”
A deeper look into the Hammet documentary catalog includes her popular single, “Little Pink Gun” takes a darkly amusing and sideways jab at gun control, based on the true story of an alarming Christmas present (“yeah, Haley’s got a little pink gun / she’s got her brother Bubba on the run”) and her latest project under construction, “Quantum Civics,” a song cycle inspired by the tiny cities and towns that comprise most of the municipal landscape across the country—where the real work of democracy gets meted out.
Melanie Hammet has also composed more than twenty-five scores for theatre, including “Coming Of Age,” a collaboration with author Ann Goethe, which was published and distributed worldwide, and “Livin’ In The Garden,” a collaboration with designer and playwright Marjorie Kellogg and Tony-winning director Kenny Leon, commissioned and premiered at The Alliance Theatre.
As a solo performer she has shared the musical stage over the years with many Georgia artists, from Indigo Girls to Shawn Mullins to Kristian Bush of Sugarland. She has co-produced recordings with Ben Holst (Southern Tracks Studio), Rob Gal (Snack n Shack Studio), and DeDe Vogt (Sound and Fury Studio), who received a gold record for her work on Indigo Girls first release.