Former professor uses talent to encourage others

Former professor, Melissa Leon, perfomred hits from her album, ” In Your Presence” on Sept. 5 at God in Control Ministries.

On April 24, Leon addressed her students for the last time and left Florida A&M University as a casualty of the Southern Association for Colleges and Schools accreditation shake down. June 13, Leon debuted her first CD, “In Your Presence.” 

According to SACS requirements, all professors must have a graduate degree to teach at a college or university, which is a criterion Leon did not meet. 

Melanie Montgomery, a fourth year public relations student, said she loved Leon’s various teaching styles.

“I wanted her to stay, although I understand why she had to leave,” said Montgomery, a native of Queens, N.Y.

Leon said she was not upset over her dismissal. She explained that her greatest concern is for students and making sure their degrees are accredited.

“I care more for the students than the position,” Leon said. “There were some lives I was supposed to impact, and I’m thankful for the opportunity.” 

The formal professor said God gifted her with her first song on Mother’s Day in 2004 and began compiling the songs six to eight months before being laid off. 

Leon wrote all 12 songs for the album and went to Vance “Praiz” Watt in Tallahassee, for production assistance.

Leon said Watt is a professional and a perfectionist.

“He does quality work,” Leon said.

Instead of singing, Leon decided to use 18 local artists to bring sound to her words.

“I could’ve hollered those songs out,” Leon said. “But I wanted to use the talent I have to help people who have a desire to sing and push them into their purpose.”

Leon visited Panama City, Daytona and St. Augustine, among other places, on a tour. She was amazed by her reception.

“To spring up out of nowhere and be popular so quickly is truly a humbling experience,” Leon said.

Leon reflected on her debut concert and described it as one of the most memorable moments of her new career.

“It’s about God and getting people closer to Him,” Leon said.

Leon reminisced over her childhood memories and the woman she said led her into the world of gospel.

“I can remember sitting on the steps listening to my mom sing gospel songs,” Leon said. “She used to make me sit down everyday with a Baptist hymnal and learn it.” 

Leon chuckled as she talked about her career transitions. 
“I never would have pictured my career like this,” Leon said. “Newspaper reporter, turned professor, turned recording artist.” 

Leon wanted to send a special thanks to those students who helped her make her CD project a success.

Her next performance is Sept. 19 at the National Recovery Day Gospel Fest at Old West Florida Primitive Baptist Church, 6pm.

“In Your Presence” is available at Vinyl Fever, Skies Limited or the Capital City Chamber of Commerce.