A writer in the respected Allmusic.com once put it this way: “Her singing is like a strong cup of Joe — it beelines to the gut and jolts the system.”
And that’s putting it mildly.
Michelle is a force of nature — an emotional ball of talent that inspires with her original songs but also takes you on a journey through what she calls “the lost music” of vintage soul/R&B legends like Dinah Washington, Ruth Brown and Etta James. As she says, “They were all different, but the one thing they shared was intensity. And that’s what I’m trying to bring, too.”
Operating on instinct since she doesn’t read music, Michelle has had a remarkable career. The Boston native made four albums with Bullseye Records (a subsidiary of Rounder Records) under the watchful eyes of producers Ron Levy (who also played keyboards with B.B. King for many years) and the Grammy Award-winning Scott Billington, who has more than 100 albums to his credit. Michelle herself has been nominated for the W.C. Handy Award for best blues vocalist (she lost to Etta James) and has toured internationally.
Now comes an exquisite live album, “Fortune Cookie,” made with her band, the Evil Gal Festival Orchestra (the “Evil Gal” is plucked from a Dinah Washington song). It was recorded at the famous Scullers club in Boston before a packed house that heard Michelle belt out a cross-section of originals and other favorites that had the crowd calling for more. It is another high-water mark in her career and confirms a strong comeback after a hiatus she took to recharge.
During her time off, she realized she he had reached her old dreams and had to devise new ones. She questioned if she had anything more to say, but the voluble singer now states, “I always have more to say!”