Bells Atlas emerges from the vibrant cultural and musical backdrop of Oakland, CA. The epicenter of the group's start, Guerilla Café - a local hub for art, diversity and activism in the Bay Area - fostered friendships and musical connections between the four core members, eventually spinning into the development of their unique collective sound.
With a musical chemistry that surprises and compliments, the sonic palette that makes up Bells Atlas is deep, cinematic and colorful. They capture the spirit of eclectic influences - soul, West African & Brazilian rhythm, noise pop, psychedelia - and draw a wide audience with diverse tastes. Combining heavy rhythm and groove, soulful vocal harmonies and a healthy dose of wildcard — sometimes fantastical — energy, this dynamic group has arrived at an interwoven sound that is undoubtedly their own.
Since 2016, Bells Atlas has been making a name for itself nationally as the touring band for NPR’s Snap Judgment, live-scoring 90 to 120 minutes of storytelling with all original music. New show dates are to be announced soon for the 2018 Fall season.
The band has supported a number of international artists and shared the stage with acts such as Hiatus Kaiyote, Badbadnotgood, Bilal, Meshell Ndegeocello, W. Kamau Bell, and more. They recently wrapped up a sold-out tour supporting Bermuda Triangle, a side-project of Alabama Shakes lead singer Brittany Howard. Stay tuned for a new album and more tour dates to come in 2018.
Melanie Charles is a Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter, actress, and flutist of Haitian descent with creative fluidity spanning jazz, soul, experimental, and Haitian roots music. Charles grew up singing in church, trained as an opera singer, and attended the prestigious LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts as a flute major. She is a 2010 Vocal Jazz Performance graduate of The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and has trained under the tutelage of jazz masters Reggie Workman, Bobby Sanabria, Junior Mance, Janet Lawson, Carla Cook, and Billy Harper.
Charles has performed at world renowned venues, both as a leader and a sideman, in New York (Jazz at Lincoln Center; Blue Note; Smalls; Nublu), Italy (Blue Note, Milan), Japan (Billboard Live), France (Duc de Lombards, Paris), England (Ronnie Scott’s), Poland (12on14; Harris Piano Jazz Bar), Germany, and Russia. She has worked with artists such as Laura Izibor (Atlantic Records), Nicola Conte (with Jose James and Gregory Porter), underground hip-hop legend Jean Grae, SZA, and Jussie Smollet of Fox’s EMPIRE, with appearances on Good Morning Americaand The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. In April 2017, Charles collaborated with the Gorillaz on their latest album, "Humanz.”
Charles has strong ties to her Haitian culture, and has beenacknowledged by author Ralph Boncy and the Haitian Jazz Foundation as one of the most important women in Haitian music. Ever since performing at the Haitian Women in Jazz Festival alongside Emeline Michele and Pauline Jean, Charles has shared the bill with Mushy Widmaer, Bonga and The Vodou Drums of Haiti, Rigaud Simon, Mozayik, Bethova Oba, Jowee Omicil, Buyu Ambroise, and has performed for Haitian President Martelly and musician Wyclef Jean as part of the 2011 Donna Karan Urban Zen fundraiser.
In 2015, Charles partnered with guitarist Jordan Peters (Lauryn Hill) to form Rat Habitat, together releasing a strong collaborative EP, ‘Guns That Shoot Bubbles.’ 2017 marked the birth of D’Flower, Charles’ alter ego, making space for her to explore more experimental sounds, creating an identity of her own. D’Flower’s self-produced mixtape, ‘The Girl with the Green Shoes,’ can be found here.
The Village Voice has described Charles’ myriad talents as “Collaging her musical DNA into jazz-studded multi-instrumentalism and dipping a toe into the experimental [...] There’s an uncanny cohesion to Charles’ music, her wandering threads braided into something strong as rope.”