If the name Melissa Roberts doesn’t quite ring a bell, perhaps ‘VANiLLA’ will. Having enjoyed a successful local music career since 2005 when she recorded her first song, the soca artiste has since become a household name. In fact, her music is so well known among the local fans, that upon mention of VANiLLA, her energy filled performances and party themed music is mostly what comes to mind. But over the past 11 years, this dynamic woman has not only built her music career, but has also added several other achievements from varying industries under her belt. And though music is one of her biggest loves, there are other parts of her life that make up the whole of what VANiLLA- the brand- is all about.
Hailing from Hopetown, West Coast Berbice, VANiLLA was the name given to Melissa by her boyfriend a few years into their relationship, and the name stuck with her as she ventured into her music career. It all began when she was encouraged to record a tune by her fellow artiste, but only took up the challenge when she was approached by Mr. Burchmore Simon of Kross Kolor Records who is now her manager.
In 2005 she recorded her first song “Koc It Up” on the Kross Kolor Label which was featured on the annual compilation album “Wine Till Yuh Drop Volume 2”. Later that year Vanilla recorded her second song “Boy” and that propelled her into the realms of the elite performers in Guyana, and in that same year she teamed up with Guyanese Soca sensation Lilman to record the single “Wine it up”. By that time Vanilla realised that she had hidden talents and wanted to take advantage of it.
For Mashramani 2007, she recorded the song “Queen of the Band” which won the Road March competition beating the reigning Soca monarch that year and thirty others. This was a significant achievement since that was her first year in that competition. In 2009 she placed second at the sixth annual Carib Soca Monarch competition with the song “Rude” and also regained her title as Queen of the road. In 2010 she once again placed second at the Soca Monarch competition and remains undefeated as the Queen of the road, making her the only female artist in Guyana to have won the title three times. After taking a break from the competition for a few years, she returned in 2014 and once again captured the title Road March title. For the year 2016, with a packed agenda of other interests becoming increasingly significant, VANiLLA began to start focusing on expanding her brand. She still managed to produce two songs however “First Hangover” and “No Permission” and is currently working on her first studio album, with a date, yet to be announced.
While pursuing her singing dreams, however, VANiLLA also proved that she was a woman of dynamic capabilities, by balancing both business and artistic aspects within the industry. She first started as an office assistant at Kross Kolor Records some years ago, quickly developing the passion to live up to the company's motto of "taking Guyanese music to the world". Soon, she worked her way up the ladder and through her quick learning abilities and the interest shown in wanting to help build the company, head of the company, Mr. Burchmore Simon, saw it fit to have a woman of such value apart of his plan to help build the Guyanese music industry. Melissa is now the Manager at Kross Kolor Records and is often times referred to as the “right hand” of the company.