Michelle is a self-taught singer who has been performing in jazz and folk bands since she was 12 years old. She is a stylist and make-up artist at Rocco Altobelli in Rochester, and she is a singer in a duo with Cameron Smith of Push & Turn.
Top artist at the moment?
Favorite local band?
Push & Turn.
Favorite song this week?
‘What the Water Gave Me’ by Florence + the Machine.
Favorite local hangout?
What sparked your interest in music?
My mom and I used to hang out in this coffee house in Lake City, and I asked her if I could practice with the string jazz band that played there. It morphed into shadowing the band and hanging out with them. I was the youngest one in the band by about 20 years. We played coffee houses and farmers markets.
Who personally influenced you at the time?
Bill Carls. We were close, but he died of cancer when I was 15. It was so terrible. For a long time I never talked about this. I completely left the music scene for years. I just put it away and never told anyone about it because I just didn’t want to make it part of my life. But it goes so deep with me that I don’t think I have been truly happy until the music started for me again.
If you could run sound for one artist no longer among the living, who would it be?
Who helped you get back into the music scene?
I remember that Bill told me never to stop singing. He said music is what I needed to be doing. The CBB Jazz Combo was playing at Michael’s one night, and Nathan Davidson asked if I would sing a song. I sang ‘Summertime,’ a song I hadn’t sung since I was 13 years old. It just felt right. That was the night I started getting back into music.
Show rituals or superstitions?
I worry about forgetting lyrics, so sometimes I hand write them to help me memorize. I have sung ‘Summertime’ a billion times, but I still will write down the lyrics anyway. It’s just about that feeling of being prepared.
Best show you’ve ever seen?
I saw Nahko and Medicine for the People at a summer festival in Harmony Park. Nahko is the kind of music that you listen to and leave thinking that the world could be a better place. In person, his voice is very haunting, and the lyrics are about lessons, about turning hatred into love. It was very spiritual.