January 18th, 2021

Fusing unique rhythms with songbird melodies, McDonald’s music dances itself into the toes of its listeners.



Although immersed in music all her life, playing piano and finding her voice, it was not until she picked up the guitar that Melissa realized a piece of her had been missing. Inspired by the intricate rhythms of one of her favorite artist’s Rodrigo y Gabriela, Melissa began to take off with guitar and play to the beat of the world.


We recently email/chatted with Melissa to learn her inspiring story:

How did you get your start in music?

I took piano lessons starting at the age of eight, played flute in bands and orchestras, and I began training vocally in high school. Music has been part of me in every stage of life. It wasn’t until I graduated college that I picked up guitar and became obsessed with it. Every free moment I had I gladly spent mastering the technique in which I play. After about six months of practicing, the technique became second nature and I have since had so much fun with it!


What was your first official paid gig?

I was hired to play at a ranch for “Sleigh Ride Dinners” where visitors would sign up for an evening of a horse-drawn sleigh ride around the enchanting ranch followed by dinner with live music.

Where do you want to go next with your music?

I want to do more production with my music. Currently, most of my time is spent playing live, which I love. Though, I really would love to explore my more creative side by producing videos where I can add different beats and rhythms and overlap them to make it really juicy!

Any dream duets (alive or deceased artists are both fine!)?

Didn’t have to think about this one twice: Rodrigo y Gabriela. They are 100 percent what inspired me to pick up guitar.


How did you know you were an artist?

I love this question. To be honest, I used to have a hard time considering myself an artist. I’m hard on myself like many people are. My challenge since picking up guitar has always been writing originals. For a while, I believed that if I cannot write my own material, I’m not an artist. Though, I know now that idea is false. Creativity is expressed in many ways, and I would often hear a song and think, “Man, I can’t wait to get home and try my own version of this!” And sometimes it would be similar to the original, and other times it would be completely different. I knew I was an artist when experimenting around on guitar was my favorite thing to do.

Melissa McDonald performs live at Gallery MAR for our winter artist’s receptions. Join us Friday, January 29 to hear her next performance and see a new collection of artwork from Jylian Gustlin.