This Californian native and her keyboard (with backing from some of the Bay area’s finest musicians) are equally at home in quiet, upscale restaurants and outdoor concert venues, and she’s recorded some fine albums too.
She began writing songs at the age of 11 and started formal piano lessons in her teens. But she preferred playing by ear, and also branched out into bass and guitar too.
Michelle’s musical experience has stretched from being a chorus member in a Gilbert and Sullivan theatre company to a bassist in a grunge band. But jazz has been her musical genre of choice since her late teens.
That also happened to be the time when she came to Britain – in 1988, 19-year-old Michelle became a student in Bath. “I studied there in college,” she told me. “I had decided to change my major from music to English, and English Lit was one of the core disciplines offered in the study program. That and the fact that it seemed an adventurous thing to do – studying abroad – propelled me to do it.
“I knew little about Bath as a location, but of course found it beautiful once I got there.”
Now, almost 30 years later [I write this in September 2016], Michelle is an established and successful musician back in Northern California.
Her Latin jazz set typically includes standards with a Latin vibe and her own compositions, inspired by Brazilian and Afro-Cuban roots.
In addition, she performs solo piano gigs and as part of a piano-flute duo. She has also co-written a CD/book called Musicreation, which offers a fun way to create your own music.
Or, if you live in the Bay area, see her live.