Sometimes you have to risk marching to the beat of a different drummer to get what you want.
Take the story of Andrea Melia, for example, the former music director of St. Timothy’s Catholic Church in Mesa, Arizona. It was there she met Adam Melia, her future husband and musical partner, when he was the church’s drummer for Teen Mass.
Working together in music ministry, the two young adults gradually came to realize they had a thing for each other, but Andrea admits she was a bit hesitant about taking their friendship to a more romantic place.
“I was really nervous because I was afraid if everything went south, I was going to lose a really good drummer,” she says with a chuckle.
However, in addition to their shared love of making music, Adam had something she was seeking in a man, she says.
“The reason I married him is that he is a good Catholic who loves and seeks God, and I knew that was going to be a requisite,” she says.
Adam says that he had dated other women who had not shared his love for music, nor his Catholic faith. In Andrea he found someone who shared both of his passions.
“I firmly believe that it all just came together very providentially,” he says of their relationship. “We just kind of started walking the path together, and we’re still walking.”
They started out on that path by coming down different musical roads. Andrea says she was inspired by such singers as Alanis Morrisette and Ani DiFranco, “Chicks with picks, playing guitar and mad at men,” she says with a laugh.
Meanwhile, Adam says classic rockers like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers and garage bands made him want to perform.
Years of playing together and sharing their influences led them to create their own sound, a melodious acoustic take on American country, folk, and rock music distinguished by well-crafted lyrics the depth of which can be disguised by the simple way in which they are presented sonically.
Adam & I
Married since 2011, the husband and wife have performed professionally as Adam & I since 2012, and have released an album as well as two extended play, or EP, records. Their records have earned rave reviews in such publications as No Depression, where one writer waxed enthusiastically about their record “Meanwhile in Virginia.”
“[‘Meanwhile in Virginia’ is] strong and tasty the way espresso coffee is,” wrote John Apice. “Some of the finest duo folk-rock, alt-country songwriting I’ve heard in awhile."
The couple has paid its performance dues, and toured extensively for years, even living out of an RV at one point. For a while they also lived in Nashville, but have settled down for a spell in Warrenton, Virginia, where they’re raising three small children.
Adam says the couple got the idea for their stage name from a friend, who remarked Andrea was always stating such things as “Adam and I have a show, Adam and I have a new record…” Their name also reflects their musical partnership, one comprised of complementing strengths, Andrea notes.
“I would say lyrically I tend to dominate, but I would say musically Adam has the upper hand,” she says, noting both play guitar. She also plays piano and mandolin, and he plays the harmonica.
The couple has spent years learning how to play and write together, a process that has made both of them grow as persons, Adam notes. Co-writing means sometimes it’s best to let go of your ideas and adopt your partner’s better ones, he notes.
“It’s a great exercise trying to get your pride in check,” he says. “You can’t just be in control of it, you have to share the control with someone else.”
It helps their partnership that they clearly respect each other’s strengths.
“Adam is an ideas man; he’s got a lot of really unique takes on things,” Andrea says. “He knows a lot more chords than I do, and he’s come up with a lot of the foundations of our songs.”
“She has a much bigger vocabulary than I do, so there’s that,” Adam adds with a chuckle, noting Andrea can help him when he’s struggling to develop a lyrical concept. “She’s a very talented musician in general, and she really has a gift for songwriting. I know Andrea has made me a better songwriter.”
Mystery behind the music
Adam & I didn’t set out to be an explicitly Christian act, but their music has garnered popularity among people of faith, particularly Catholics like themselves. Andrea says it all started when a fan contacted Adam & I to find out if they would like to be listed among a group of Catholic musicians for an online piece.
The couple responded in the affirmative, despite the fact their music isn’t “praise and worship music.” However, their songs do sometimes reference God, at times reminding the listener of The Proclaimers, another primarily acoustic duo who allude to faith in their tunes without necessarily spelling out every theological concept they embrace from song to song.
For example, the ballad “If I Am Taken,” which can be found on the website adamandimakemusic.com, exemplifies the gentle way the couple can weave together the mortal and immortal.
“If I should die / Before you wake / And we never have a chance to grow old and grey / Please dry your eyes / My love don’t weep / My soul belongs to God / But my heart is yours to keep,” they sing.
Another tune that asks listeners to put aside fear, not to mention media-induced anxiety, is the jaunty folk number “6 Foot” off their record “Meanwhile in Virginia.”
“Cuz time is always fleeting my friend / But your heart is beating / This is not the end / Live the life you want / While you still got life to give / You’ll be six foot in the ground / Wishing that you did.”
Adam adds that the couple may record a more explicit faith-oriented project in the future. Parenthood has made them think about how moms and dads raise their kids in the Catholic Church, and he says the couple is pondering recording a children’s music album to help Catholic parents teach their young ones about the faith through song.
When asked why they’ve found an audience with Catholic listeners, the couple notes it may be because their music focuses on such upbeat themes as joy and love, rather than the darker concerns that occupy so much popular music these days.
“We always try to write hopeful music and joyful music and music that isn’t self-centered,” Adam says.
On that note, Andrea says, “A Catholic lifestyle is a hopeful one, free of fear and always seeking God, in the good times and the bad times. I think that’s why people connected to our music even if it doesn’t directly reference the Church.”