||Michele’s interest in music began as a child, sitting in the library of her grandmother’s house with the record player. Not yet in kindergarten, unable to read, she knew which LP’s were her favorites by the scratches on the label. At every trip to the local department store, she would spend all her time in front of the pianos, trying out the keys, testing melodies. Given those early leanings, it was a natural progression that she became a singer/songwriter. She began singing seriously in high school and continued during her conservatory training in college at USC. She has studied voice with Robert Edwards and Derek Barnes.
She was a founding member of the L.A. based world music ensemble Sangre Sabia as well as the primary lyricist for the band. Other members included well known Celtic violinist Mary Barton of the Mary Barton Trio, Gilberto Morales, songwriter and engineer, who has worked extensively with producer George Massenburg, Mariachi Los Camperos, Linda Ronstadt, Lyle Lovett and others.
Michele went on to assemble her own Latin ensemble with Ciro Hurtado of Huayucaltia as musical director and a string of well known Latin musicians (Guillermo Guzman, Tiki Pasillas, Ruben Izquierdo. Jorge Mijangos, Ramon Flores, Gary Johnson and Libby Harding of Conjunto Jardin). With Hurtado producing she recorded two bilingual, World Music CD’s, Ojo de Tiburón and Luna Roja. Both CDs have garnered critical acclaim and excellent reviews in Latin and World Music publications as well as airplay.
A strong component of Michele’s music is the Nueva Cancion influence that came out of Latin America, popularized by international artists like Mercedes Sosa, Silvio Rodriguez, Violeta Parra and others. Blending traditional Latin acoustic rhythms and political consciousness, the Nueva Cancion style fit perfectly with Michele’s sensibilities, both politically and artistically. For the release of the acoustic version of Luna Roja, Michele aligned with Amnesty International as one of the CD’s songs, Ciudad Juarez, deals with the long running, unsolved murders and disappearances of young maquila workers Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. The song will be featured in the upcoming documentary Border Echoes by filmmaker/journalist Lorena Moreno-Quiroja. Download the song Ciudad Juarez at the Amnesty International website amnesty.org .
A portion of the sales of Luna Roja go to the AI Women of Juarez campaign
Luna Roja is the next step in Michele’s exploration of Nueva Canción with songs about socio-political issues of immigration, political corruption and war, songs of hope in the face of despair and the contradictions and duality of the human heart. Guest artist John Gorka sings the duet on Little John and a hauntingly beautiful 6/8 version of Bruce Springsteen’s Across The Border closes the CD..
“Music is the medium where I deal with the political and social issues that affect me. That consciousness is part of who I am as an artist on every level but music is the most obvious and natural fit for me, dealing with those things. I am one of those music fanatics, I will get hooked on a certain CD or artist and listen to the same thing relentlessly for weeks, sometimes months. I listened to Temple of the Dog for something like three months straight. I was so taken with Chris Cornell’s vocal dexterity and the songs themselves. There are certain artists that are always in the CD carousel at home and in the car: Johnny Cash, John Prine, Dwight Yoakam….and of course the collections by Trio Los Panchos, Caetano Veloso, anything by Manu Chao. If I had to give up one of my senses, it would never be hearing; I can’t imagine life without music and voices.”
Michele has sung on the recent compilations Seeds: The Songs of Pete Seeger and Spain In My Heart: Songs of the Spanish Civil War. Seeds was nominated for a Grammy and featured artists Billy Bragg, Ani DiFrancoand Steve Earle among others. Spain In My Heart is a hauntingly beautiful collection of music from the dark days of the fascist Franco regime and features Guardabarranco, Lila Downs, Quetzal and Eliseo Para among a slew of international artists.
Michele is currently in the studio doing a club remix of Luna Roja and adding new material for a European release. She is also recording an Americana CD of original music, entitled My Father’s Daughter, with her newly formed Americana band, Johnny Cat. Renowned studio guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Craig Stull is producing and co-writing.