Melanie Amaro, the 19-year-old finalst of THE X FACTOR from the Virgin Islands and Florida, can't remember the first time she sang, but her mother will never forget. When Melanie was just six-months-old, her mother recalls putting her to bed in her crib only to come in shortly after to see her baby standing up in her crib singing away.
"At six months a baby’s spine isn’t aligned yet to sit up straight on your own," says Melanie. "But I was sitting up on the crib, sitting up on my own and just singing. She said she didn’t have a clue what I was singing, but it sounded so pretty and she said it was music. She said right after I finished singing I would just lay my head back down and fall asleep."
Needless to say, music runs deep in Melanie from the time she was born to today and it was something to help her escape the pain of being separated from her family at a young age. She was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but her Caribbean-bred parents couldn't afford to take care of her so they sent her to her grandparents in Tortola, Virgin Islands and would only see her parents on summer vacations and Christmas breaks.
"Being away from my parents for the long time, I had to find something to lean on so I looked to God and I looked to my music. And I sing. I just kept my mind from something else other than just being away from my parents." The music that comforted her was church music, as well as R&B, soul, and pop, including Whitney Houston, Mary J. Blige, and Mariah Carey. "I would sing, 'I'm not going to cry' and I would say that to myself during this time," she adds.
She soon stopped singing for herself, and started singing for others at church events, Sweet Sixteen birthday parties, weddings (her first paid gig was a wedding for $50!), and in school musicals and school choir. "When I hit about 11, that's when I fell in love with singing and acting, but I really, really loved the singing. All I wanted to do was to sing," she says. "My mother was really pushing me. She was like, Melanie, God gave you this gift and he wants the whole world to hear."
It was her mother who encouraged her to try out for THE X FACTOR, but that was a rocky road at first too. Not only did Simon at first send her home during the judges' rounds (only to famously realize his mistake and bring her back), but she almost didn't make it through the first round as well. She explains, "I wanted to get a Fast Pass at the local FOX news in Florida and they told me, 'No, we didn’t enjoy you very much.' So I waited in line with all the thousands of people," she says, and as they say – the rest is history!