Melissa began playing clarinet at age 10 at Jennerstown Elementary School. She played typical school band music until she was 22, when she put the clarinet away because she knew she wasn't Pittsburgh Symphony material! In 2001, Melissa attended Pennsic War, a medieval re-enactment event held north of Pittsburgh and discovered Turkish folk music for bellydancing. The clarinet was never so sweet sounding! Immediately, Melissa pulled her clarinet out of her closet and began to play again in 2001, this time focusing only on Mediterreanean songs.
In 2006, Melissa co-founded the bellydance band, Ishtar, with Jeff Chmielarski on bass, Mark DeFilippo on darbuka, and Beth DeFilippo on riqq. Rob Metil joined Ishtar on Fender Stratocaster guitar in 2007 giving a surf rock sound to Ishtar resulting in the tagline "BellyRock".