Manchester was born in the Bronx area of New York City
to a musical family. Her father was a bassoonist for the New York
Metropolitan Opera. Manchester started a singing career at an early
age, learning the piano and harpsichord at the Manhattan
School of Music and Arts, singing commercial jingles at age fifteen,
and becoming a staff writer for Chappell Music
while attending New York City’s High
School of the Performing Arts.
studied songwriting at New York University
with Paul Simon. Manchester then appeared on the
Manhattan club scene, where she was discovered by Bette Midler and Barry Manilow, who took her on as a backup
singer in 1971.
debut album, Home to Myself, was released in 1973;
Manchester co-wrote many of its songs with Carole Bayer Sager.
Two years later Manchester’s album, Melissa, produced her first top ten
hit, “Midnight Blue”. Manchester collaborated with Kenny Loggins to co-write Loggin’s 1978
hit duet with Stevie Nicks, “Whenever
I Call You Friend”. She guest-starred on the soap opera Search for Tomorrow
to teach a main character, who was a singer-songwriter, the essentials of the
craft. In 1979 Manchester made the top ten with her
own single “Don’t Cry Out Loud”.
Manchester became the first singer to have two movie themes nominated for an Academy Award—“Through the Eyes of Love”
from the film Ice Castles and “I’ll Never Say Goodbye” from the film The
Promise. Two years later she had her biggest hit “You Should Hear How She
Talks About You”, which won a Grammy for Best Female Vocal Performance.
the 1980s and 1990s
Manchester alternated recording with acting, appearing with Bette Midler in For
the Boys and on the television series
also wrote and starred in the musical, I Sent a Letter to My Love, based
on the Bernice Rubens’ novel of the same name.
spring 2004, Manchester returned with her first album in ten years, When I Look
Down That Road.