Melanie Jones is originally from Northern VA and moved to Philadelphia in 2002. Jan Alba encouraged Melanie to start singing when she and Rusty Crowell met her at their open mic back in 2013. At the time, Melanie suffered from severe performance anxiety but with the support of Rusty and Jan began singing at various open mics in the city, The band formed and grew out of one song, Mil Besos. Melanie played with Andy Walko on bass in 2016 with the previous incarnation of the band Melanie and Los Chicos. Andy played with the band until 2023. Melanie ran her own open mic in Germantown with the non-profit Working While Playing in 2017 where she heard Don Garfinkel play and knew she wanted to collaborate with him. She'd known Barry Bell from local drum circles.
Melanie's musical background is diverse. Her mother was a professional ballet dancer and classical music was always being played in the home. At the age of 10 her stepfather taught her how to play the piano. At age 13 she heard the saxophone solo in "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty and knew she had to play that instrument. Saxophone and flute share the same fingering and she quickly taught herself to play the flute. She played the saxophone in the symphonic band and the marching band in high school. At the age of 19 she knew she had to do something to overcome her shyness. She took a class voice course because she knew if she could sing in front of people she could talk to people. She continued to study voice at the Northern Virginia Community College but spent more time playing saxophone and flute in the jazz band. She earned her Associate in Arts degree with a major in music from there in 1990.
She became bilingual in Spanish working as a community activist and living in the Alexandria, VA neighborhood of Arlandria-Chirilagua. A convention to support bilingual education in Philadelphia in 2002 prompted her move to the city. She brings her love of languages and passion for international music, jazz , and the desire to build bridges among communities to the band. She sings in 10 languages; English, Spanish, Portuguese, Latin, Ladino, French, German, Russian, Hebrew, and Finnish.