Sensual. Intuitive. Intellectual. Spiritual.

Melinda Joy is a singer-songwriter/bass player whose songs interweave poetic lyrics (many originally written as stand-alone poems) with bass and melody lines that draw from a variety of genres. Born in Washington, D.C., she grew up in the Midwest and has lived in New York City, San Francisco, North Carolina, Philadelphia, and New Orleans before migrating to Austin, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Singing and making music is a calling for MJ. She was a very shy and introspective kid, yet her desire to sing was so strong that when she began performing in elementary school, her legs would shake and her face would turn bright red from nervousness. But something drove her to continue. She's come a long way as a musician and performer since then, from classical and operatic training to a cappella to writing and playing her own original music.

Her newest album, Beautiful Illusions (2020), was her first in 15 years. The songs on the record reflect upon both the joys and the depths she's navigated over the past decade and a half. Some of them have been percolating since her time in New Orleans and the aftermath of Katrina, while others are very fresh, with themes touching touch on love and loss, spirituality, pilgrimage, and the often-painful path to awakening. Soulful, jazzy, and lush, her sound has been described as "southern gothic." 

In addition to her musical endeavors, Melinda holds a Ph.D. in psychology / creativity studies. She is the host and creator of the podcast Syncreate: Empowering Creativity, which explores the intersections between creativity, psychology, and creativity and expands the boundaries of what it means to be creative with guests working in a wide range of fields and media. She's also the author of two bestselling books: A Mindful Approach to Team Creativity and Collaboration: Creating a Culture of Innovation, published in 2020 from Palgrave Macmillan, and the co-author of the Silver Nautilus Award-winning Syncreate: A Guide to Navigating the Creative Process for Individuals, Teams, and Communities, published in 2021 from Mandorla Books.

Professionally, she works as a creativity, career and leadership coach, consultant, facilitator and educator, helping individuals and organizations tap into their innate creativity for greater insight, collaboration, and innovation, allowing them to bring their creative dreams and visions to life. She is also a longtime mindfulness practitioner, a photographer, and she leads workshops and retreats on mindfulness and creativity, both in the U.S. and internationally. 

Melinda was also a founding member of with the Austin-based bands Green-Eyed Cat and Girl at the Window. Green-Eyed Cat was a collaborative venture with songstress Kim Llewellyn, the inimitable J.T. Martin (of Chasca), and drummer Johnny Gasyna. It's a night at the cabaret, a traveling vaudeville act, and a jazzy romp, featuring piano, bass, percussion, and tight, three-part harmonies. Girl at the Window featured the lush vocal stylings and songwriting chops of MJ, Kim Llewellyn, and Kaia Tingley.

During the fall of 2010, Melinda performed the role of Columbia in Chasca's Rocky Horror Revue Central Texas Tour, which included five performances at several venues in Austin, San Marcos, and San Antonio, TX. Follow the link for a video montage and live recording of our rendition of The Time Warp.

Melinda recorded and released her debut CD, Unbound, in New Orleans during the summer of 2004 and toured extensively with her former band, M.J. Baby & The Last Word. Listen to clips of the CD and check out fan reviews at CD Baby.

Performance Highlights:

  • 2023 Presentation & Performance “Songwriters & Storytellers,” Story Parlor, Asheville, NC
  • 2022 Oregon Creativity Conference, "Creativity in Songwriting: A Process Talk and Performance," Ashland, OR
  • 2021 Oregon Creativity Conference, "The Call to Create": Presentation & Performance, Ashland, OR
  • 2019 Jung Society of Austin, "The Call to Create," Presentation & Performance
  • 2016 Melinda Joy & The Beautiful Illusion residency at Sahara Lounge, Austin, TX
  • 2014 Green-Eyed Cat Unofficial SXSW Showcase @ Uncorked, Austin, TX
  • 2013 Green-Eyed Cat residency at The Butterfly Bar @ The Vortex Theater, Austin, TX
  • 2010 Chasca Rocky Horror Revue Central Texas Tour
  • 2010 Austin Jams @ Austin Java - Unofficial SXSW Showcase, Austin, TX
  • 2009 Art Actualized Showcase, Austin, TX
  • 2007 M.J. Baby & The Last Word @ Hyperactive Music Festival, Albuquerque, NM
  • 2007 M.J. Baby & The Last Word @ "Invasion of the GoGirls," Austin, TX
  • 2007 M.J. Baby & The Last Word @ Folk Alliance Conference (GoGirls Showcase), Memphis, TN
  • 2006 M.J. Baby & The Last Word @ GoGirls Music Fest, Austin, TX
  • 2006 M.J. Baby & The Last Word @ Cutting Edge Music Conference Showcase, New Orleans, LA