Melissa Fulkerson was raised in Sonoma County, California, Where she was exposed to the world of music performance at an early age. With her father being an accomplished guitar and bass player in multiple groups across the county, Melissa grew up surrounded by performing musicians. Her first exposure to musical instruction was in the third grade, when she began her instruction in classical piano. From there, Melissa’s involvement in music increased dramatically. In middle school she played percussion for the concert and marching bands as well as piano for the jazz band. Her involvement in school music programs continued through high school, where she also sang in the concert choir.
Once she turned eighteen, Melissa began performing along side her father as well as other accomplished musicians. Her first collegiate musical experience was at the Santa Rosa Junior College under the instruction of world-renowned saxophonist Bennett Friedman. Melissa quickly became immersed in music studies, and, for the first time, studied classical voice privately with San Francisco Opera member, Bill Neely. During her classical studies, Melissa competed in the preliminaries to the Miss America Scholarship Program, winning the award for Best in Talent for consecutive years.
The Santa Rosa Junior College Vocal Jazz ensemble came to life in the fall of 2003, where Melissa made her way to the lead soprano position in the group, giving her the opportunity to perform along side world-class artists such as Bennett Friedman, Al Garth, and Charles McNeal, and Julia Dollison. Melissa earned her Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento where she studied privately with Ms. Dollison. She has also performed in all of the California State University Sacramento (CSUS) Vocal Jazz Ensembles, Vox2, C sus, and Jazz Singers, under the direction of Kerry Marsh. With Melissa as the lead soprano, C sus was the first vocal ensemble in history to be invited to perform at the Closing Ceremonies for the Reno Jazz Festival in 2008, as C sus took first place in the competition. Melissa has appeared on CSUS’s most recent Downbeat Award-winning album “Pale Blue Dot” and appeared with the Jazz Singers on Ben Folds’ “University A Capella” album. The group was awarded the opportunity to open for Mr. Folds at the Fox Theater in Oakland. In 2014, Melissa performed with Ben Folds and the San Francisco Symphony at Davies Symphony Music Hall in San Francisco. Melissa has appeared in Downbeat Magazine in for winning the award for Solo Outstanding Performance in 2010 and the award for Large Vocal Ensemble in 2011 and 2015. She returned to CSUS and completed her Master’s degree in Vocal Performance in 2015.
Melissa has taught various jazz related subjects at Natomas Charter School, American River College, Sierra College, CSUS, and University of Pacific. She is currently on faculty at CSUS and the Director of Vocal Jazz at University of Pacific.
Bachelor’s degree from California State University, Sacramento