Melanie, a Reluctant Superstar, Reflects: "I Never Wanted to Be a Celebrity"

Speaking on the phone from her home in Nashville, Melanie Anne Safka-Schekeryk -- better-known to Baby Boomers everywhere simply as Melanie -- sounds exactly as one would expect: personable, engaging, down to earth, and, in the slightest way, ever so fragile.

It's hard to believe it's been nearly 45 years since the public got its first glimpse of a once-budding singer, songwriter, actress, and screenwriter at what was supposed to be a modest music festival in upstate New York. There, standing alone at center stage in Woodstock, facing some 400,000 people, she immediately ascended to the throne of Earth Mother, Hippie Chick, and Flower Child Supreme.

"I can't tell you how terrified I was when I played Woodstock," she confesses. "I drove up with my mother. I had no clue. I didn't hear any of the hype or buildup or anything. We started driving, and we hit some traffic and then took a detour, made some phone calls -- no cell phones or emails back then, of course -- and I finally found my way to this little motel in Bethel. And there were all these media trucks and famous people. When I appeared at Woodstock, maybe a small percent, if that, had ever heard of me. I'd never been in a magazine or on TV or anything. I went up an unknown person, and I walked off a celebrity."

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Lee Zimmerman