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Melanie Fiona opens D’Angelo and Mary J. Blige show at United Center

Melanie Fionopens for D'Angelo Mary J. Blige United Center Thursday. | Getty

Melanie Fiona opens for D'Angelo and Mary J. Blige at the United Center Thursday. | Getty

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The Liberation Tour with Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo featuring Melanie Fiona

† Thursday, Sept. 13 at 7 p.m.

† United Center, 1901 W. Madison

† Tickets: $39.75-$150.75

Born in Toronto, Canada, to Guyanese immigrants, singer Melanie Fiona was exposed to different music, including R&B, hip-hop and Caribbean music. But her favorite is old soul music by artists such as Nat King Cole and Otis Redding.

“I love that era of soul music from the 1950s and 1960s,” Fiona said. “It is the best for storytelling, emotion and raw talent.””

The singer-songwriter shares her emotions on her latest album, “The MF Life,” which features John Legend and rappers Nas and B.O.B.

““It is about the ups and downs of life and love,””Fiona said. “My music has to be rooted in great storytelling and raw emotion. There are songs about being heartbroken as well as being confident and sexy. I just wanted to convey the different emotions that I’ve experienced in song so people could listen to a soundtrack of their feelings.””

That formula seems to have paid off with the singer winning two Grammy awards this year for Best R&B Song and Best Traditional R&B Performance for her collaboration with Cee Lo Green for “Fool For You.”

Fiona will display her singing prowess when she opens for Mary J. Blige and D’Angelo at the United Center on Thursday.

“Chicago is one of my favorite cities,””she said. “It reminds me a lot of Toronto because people enjoy what the city has to offer by going out to the restaurants and shows. I feel like the people in Chicago do the same thing. It has great energy.”

“”I also enjoy the shopping in Chicago,””she added. “I can go to the department stores right on Michigan Avenue and find some great stuff. I always make sure I have extra room in my bag because I leave with more than I came with.”

Fiona has also received a Grammy nomination for Best R& B vocal performance for the single “It Kills Me””from her 2009 debut album, “The Bridge””as well as a 2011 Grammy nomination for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Wake Up! Everybody””by John Legend and The Roots, which featured Fiona and Common.

Fiona said she enjoys collaborating with other artists and plans to continue to seek out opportunities.

“I’ve worked hard to be recognized in my own right and also lending what I have to offer to other artists as well if they want to work with me,” she said. “We do this because we love music. When I look back on my career, it is nice to know that I’ve had the opportunity to work with different artists.””

Early in her career, Fiona worked with another up and coming Toronto native, rapper Drake. The two performed spent 2005 perfoming together in The Renaissance.

“I would sing and he would emcee,” Fiona said. “We would pretty much jam out in supper clubs and other local little venues around the city. We would cover songs and remix each other songs that we worked on individually.”

They have kept in touch every since and Drake co-wrote the song “I Been that Girl,” which is on her latest album.



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