The Melody of Dreams
With a beautiful voice and thought-provoking lyrics, Elise Bellew enchants with her music
For Elise Bellew, music has always been an important part of her life. She started singing at a very young age, later studying and perfecting her craft. Her voice is ethereal and mysterious, with an enchanting feel. The first defining moments in her career were the recordings of her first two albums with her first band, The Mary Dream. In As I Am (2003) and Beautiful World (2006), she partnered with Blake Ryan Dayton to write and produce the songs, which are described by the artist as “a collection of bittersweet and compelling songs that are both dreamy and melodic.” Since its release, numerous songs from Beautiful World have been incorporated in film and television, such as ABC’s All My Children, MTV’s Real World Denver and Real World Hollywood, and CBC’s Heartland. The title track of Beautiful World became an optimistic anthem for YouTube fans, who have created numerous fan videos on the site. The Mary Dream’s third album, entitled This Kind of Life, was also self-produced and released in 2010.
The mix was done by five-time Grammy winner Reid Shippen and mastered by Greg Calbi, who has worked with stars such as Norah Jones and John Mayer. Bellew describes this album as a deeper level of the group’s signature sound. Her song “Save You” was featured earlier this year in an episode of the popular MTV series Finding Carter. In 2014, this multifaceted talent released Bellew Christmas. This beautifully compiled collection of classical holiday songs is not your typical Christmas album. The combination of Bellew’s voice and long-time friend and Nashville producer Michael Head’s arrangements is flawless. Each song is an unexpectedly fresh version of a classic tune. This record was Bellew’s first as a solo artist, and she feels indebted to Head, who funded and mastered the project for her. Music has enormous power. It can alter your mood or make you remember. When the proper mix of vocals and instruments is achieved, the results can be magical. Some of today’s musicians incorporate deep and introspective lyrics, which is a common practice for Bellew. Her songwriting process is unique. “I typically dream a vocal melody, between 4 and 6 a.m., and sometimes when I nap,” explains Bellew. “When I dream a melody, I wake myself up and sing it into my phone. Later, I go back and listen to what I recorded to see if it is worth developing.” She develops the lyrics after the melody is found. “Once I have a solid direction for the song, I sit down at my computer and figure out the tempo by using a click track, which is an electronic metronome,” Bellew continues. After the song is recorded a cappella with the tempo, she sends it to producer Bryan Steele. “It has been a great pleasure working with such an original artist,” says Steele, who has written songs for artists around the world, as well as placed songs in many popular TV shows and film. “She has a style that is at once haunting but also contagiously pop.” In November 2016, Bellew released her latest record, entitled Wonderland. “With this new album, there were a lot of firsts,” says Bellew, who records most of her vocals and writes lyrics from her home studio in Cape Coral. “This is the first time I have written songs almost entirely by myself, without being dependent on a composer. It is the first album I have ever written drawing inspiration from urban, electronic and dance elements, as opposed to guitar-based rock,” adds Bellew, who finds Wonderland’s orchestration to be sparser than her previous recordings, with more emphasis on vocals, drums and bass. “I am at the helm, recording and editing my own vocals, growing as an engineer, and all because of my mentor Bryan [Steele].” In this album, the subject matter of the songs has shifted to represent a happier time in her life, while taking more lyrical risks. Within the new solo material, songs like the title track on Wonderland have developed a more cinematic feel. “I’m really hoping for some movie placements this time around,” says Bellew. As for the future of this talented Floridian, she says songs, songs and more songs. “I literally cannot stop writing. The songs just keep coming in my sleep, so I’m just going to keep putting out albums,” concludes the songstress, who has found the greatest joy in making beautiful music for all of us to enjoy.
The title track of Beautiful World became an optimistic anthem for YouTube fans, who have created numerous fan videos on the site.
David Acevedo is a visual artist, arts writer, art gallery owner and curator living in Cape Coral. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. He is a co-founder of the Fort Myers Art Walk and owner/manager of The Union Artist Studios and DAAS CO-OP Art Gallery & Gifts in Fort Myers.
In what she calls her Zen room, Elise Bellew finds inspiration for new songs. Above, her new album, Wonderland, was recorded in her home studio in Cape Coral.
Bellew records her songs a capella and then provides her producer with the files for the instrumental synchronization. Since 2003, the Cape Coral musician has released five albums— three with the band, The Mary Dream, and two solo efforts.