"That day would be her last. Tomorrow would never come. The Lord, He called her name, to leave behind all she loved . . . . "
So begins "Requiem for Melanie," a soulful gospel-style ballad that starting airing last week on several Washington radio stations. The song memorializes 11-year-old Melanie Nicholson, of the Randle Highlands neighborhood in Southeast, who was killed in an automobile accident last Oct. 25 while on her way to Sunday services at Corinthian Baptist Church in Northwest.
"I miss her and I loved her like everybody else," said Gregory Charles Royal, 20, who wrote and recorded the song. Royal, who attended the Ellington School of the Arts, is engaged to be married to Melanie's 18-year-old sister Malitta. "I wanted a way to remember her, and I imagined this song as if her father were singing to her," Royal said.
Melanie's father, Clarence, 42, an office furniture salesman and church deacon, was seriously injured in the fiery crash, which occurred when a car being pursued by police for speeding slammed into the back of the Nicholson car.
"We are just getting used to listening to it. We love the song," said Melanie's mother, Lois, a D.C. public school music teacher. "It's a very unusual kind of remembrance."
Royal turned over the copyright to the Nicholson family and has produced 1,000 copies of the record, which are selling at local record stores for $1.59, he said. Proceeds from record sales will be donated to the cardiac unit of Children's Hospital National Medical Center.
"It's a good record and it's a meaningful thing that had something to do with our community," said Bud Myers, general manager of WOOK radio. "It clashes with our normal soul sound," said Chris Gardner, the station's program director, "but the response was immediate and very positive." Gardner said the station played the song once a day last week and received more than 50 calls from people who wanted to hear it again.