Singer Melanie, one of only nine women who performed at Woodstock in 1969, died at the age of 76 on Jan. 23, her family confirmed.

Known for her powerful, gravelly voice, Anne Safka-Schekeryk broke through with her 1970 song “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain),” which was inspired by her experience at the festival.

She had several more hits – including “Brand New Key” and a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” – in a career that began in 1967 and continued until her death. She’d been working on what was to be her 32nd album.

READ MORE: The Women of Woodstock

“Mom passed, peacefully, out of this world and into the next,” read a post on her Facebook page, written by her three children. “She was one of the most talented, strong and passionate women of the era and every word she wrote, every note she sang reflected that.”

They continued: “Our world is much dimmer, the colors of a dreary, rainy Tennessee pale with her absence today, but we know that she is still here, smiling down on all of us, on all of you, from the stars.” Promising a public memorial event would be announced in due course, they concluded: “Thank you all for your love – you meant so very much to her.”

Watch Melanie’s ‘Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)’

“It was an unbelievably frightening day,” Melanie told the Guardian in 2021 of her Woodstock appearance, which took place when she was 22 years old. “I just thought it was a weekend of singing. I pictured families with picnic blankets, and arts and crafts. I had no idea!

“I thought, ‘I can’t do this. I don’t have any hit records, nobody knows who I am.’ I had no musicians with me, no roadie – I even brought my mom!”

Melanie Never Thought Of Herself As a Hippie

Noting that she’d been uncomfortable with the success of “Brand New Key” because it had been interpreted as a childish song, when it was actually about loss of innocence, she reflected: “I never even felt like I was a hippie; I didn’t like the term. If anything, I was the beat generation – people in the Village expressing themselves in so many ways, not being pigeonholed.”

Referring to the 1971 album containing the hit, Melanie said: “It’s pretty incredible all these years later that Gather Me could even be relevant; it’s amazing to think that I have soundtracked people’s lives. It really hits the mark.”

Listen to Melanie’s ‘Brand New Key’

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Gallery Credit: UCR Staff

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