Melissa VanFleet was on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean sea when she struck up a conversation with Doro bassist Nick Douglas.
As fate would have it, Van Fleet and Blair's connection ran deeper than a shared love of heavy-metal. VanFleet learned that Douglas is also a native of Bethlehem. (VanFleet and Douglas were among the musicians on board performing as part of "Full Metal Cruise II.")
That friendship led Douglas to appear on VanFleet's upcoming single, "Ode to the Dark." It will be VanFleet's first new music to backed by a full band and is set for a late summer/early fall release.
VanFleet, a pianist and singer who splits her time between Bethlehem and Philadelphia (when she is not overseas touring Europe), has also enlisted the musical aid of W.A.S.P. guitarist Douglas Blair and Queensryche drummer Scott Rockenfield for the new tune.
"The emotion he (Blair) has when he plays lead guitar is out of this world," VanFleet said Monday during a phone interview. "And Queensryche is one of those bands who are just, like Madonna, to me."
VanFleet's vocals and Blair's guitar tracks have already been recorded, she said. Douglas' drum tracks are being recorded, while Rockenfield is set to lay down the drums once Queensryche's current tour wraps.
"This is going to be my first venture into my true sound," VanFleet said.
VanFleet is no stranger to the Lehigh Valley's music circuit. Influenced by her father's love of heavy-metal, VanFleet first entered a recording studio at age 12. VanFleet has also performed several times at Musikfest in Bethlehem.
Last summer, VanFleet released the album "Metal Lullabies" -- a collection of piano-oriented, acoustic renditions of heavy-metal classics. She said European fans are just as hungry for heavy-metal. "It was the coolest thing. Those metal fans over there are just diehard," she said. "I write a lot about dark things, things that scare me ... Even with the language barrier, (the audience) still connects to what I'm saying."
VanFleet's 2012 recording of W.A.S.P.'s "Sleeping in the Fire" caught the attention of the band's booking agent a few months after the clip was posted on YouTube -- setting her on the path that would eventually lead to a collaboration between the four musicians.
"I've learned so much through this whole process. It's something I wouldn't trade for anything," she said. "On top of being super talented, they are the nicest guys I've ever met."