If you you’ve fallen in love with the hypnotic and jazzy vocals of Grammy-award winning R&B and soul singer Chrisette Michele, then her latest album ‘Better’ will leave you completely mystified in the best way. Take a journey with the singer who credits her time away as the blessing she needed. Her latest single ‘A Couple Of Forevers’ is a well-mastered composition of why she is no longer afraid to love and sing about it. She talked exclusively with FrontPage Detroit about her career, being inspired through the time times, Keyshia Cole’s Twitter rants and why women must respect men now.
How have you been and how are you feeling these days?
I’m good thank you how are you? And I am feeling well thanks.
Your career has been amazing. Talk about what everything has been like for you.
Well it has been a long seven years and I do not want to give you the long run down on all seven of them. I came straight out of college and was signed to a record label. And so I’ve never had a regular job or regular anything. It’s just what I have experienced as being an adult. So it has been really special and I feel really blessed.
Did you imagine all of this success right out of college?
Absolutely not. I had plans on being an Indie Artist. I never thought I’d be signed to a major label and I never wanted to be signed to a major label. So when I was, it was larger than what I thought. Not so much in terms of success, but the type of people I began to meet. You know I thought I’d be sort of an earthy and bootsy kind of girl.
You just have this amazing voice and style that is not like any other artist. Who are some of your vocal inspirations in terms of your style adaptations?
Well my singing inspirations have been Ella, Billie and Sarah Vaughn. Just even instrumentally. It was such a huge inspiration to me because I was obsessed with the scales. But when I got signed to Def Jam Records, I began to study the likes of Patti LaBelle and Aretha Franklin, especially Diana Ross. I love women who are lady-like and so the class that Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Dandridge had was really spectacular to me.
Your latest studio project ‘Better’ is amazing. Talk about the inspiration behind your single ‘A Couple of Forevers’.
I finally wanted to sing about love. I was tired of singing about being broken-hearted. And so I really feel love in my heart. I really feel it deep down inside and it feels so good. The problem that I am running into is that I’m aggressive and when I’m supposed to be sweet, I’m still a little tough (laughing). Yeah so I try to keep it as sweet as possible, but I’m a tough girl.
You’ve also released a song that features 2 Chainz. Talk about working with him and the decision to include a controversial rapper in your music.
Yeah I guess he is controversial, but I do not know what rapper is not controversial. There is always some controversy with hip hop. But working with him was really easy. He had shouted me out on his album and we had never met until I tweeted him. He tweeted me back and that’s how that came about.
Did your image take a hit and did you receive any flack by being associated with him?
Well I worked with Rick Ross, Jay-Z, Nas and with so many different types of rappers and I think people have an idea about everybody. While working with different singers on different tours, people have interesting opinions about them. What I focus on doing is just being myself and I think that is why I am able to be so comfortable because I am being myself. So even if a rapper is being themselves, I’m still being myself. So I don’t think it takes away from my image. I think it lets people know that I appreciate who they are and the culture that they are a part off.
How do you think you’ve evolved as an artist from your first album until now? What are some of the lessons both good and bad that you’ve learned along the way?
I have this idea of being fearless. It’s always been a mentality that I have adopted and I did not actuality know what that really meant until recently and for me being fearless is not even wondering what people think . After a while when you know you are meant to do something, it’s not really a big deal of whether someone likes it or not. If you like it, then it’s what you are supposed to be doing. An example of that would be how your friends feel about your parenting and you’re asking well how should I raise my son? But only you know your son. You know that you are meant to be his mother and that’s how I feel about music right now.
I follow all of your tweets and they are very inspiring. You tweet about love and just being the best you can be. How are you able to stay so lifted with such a hectic schedule?
It really took a long time to pick out the people around me. I mean it really took a long time to do that. That’s been a journey like over the last two years. So it was just like I love you but I can’t hang with you. Or there were times where it’s been like you’re incredible, but you get on my nerves so I am going to learn how to love you because we need to be together. So I’ve really been praying about who I have around me and that goes from my assistant to the person I have playing the drums for me. It’s like everyone on my team are people who keep me lifted, including my mom who is my manager.
Recently, you’ve been tweeting about relationships and successful women who have their own. Do you think in general some men are intimidated of successful women and are you able to have a relationship without men being intimated of you?
The bulk of that twitter conversation was about women respecting men. A lot of times successful women forget to respect, adore and admire men. And a lot of times we are so headstrong because we are successful and we are so confident because we are sweet, kind, gentle and loving. We are very tough. And so it was important for me to say that it’s wonderful that you travel a lot and it’s wonderful that you have an education and that you went to college. So it’s important if you can let a man know that you respect who he is and what he’s doing with his life and not ask so much from him if he’s not asking that from himself. If you do not respect who he is as a men, then do not date him. Do not just disrespect men. I think a lot of times we spend so much time writing songs and making statements about how there aren’t any good men and I think we can sometimes be very disrespectful toward men. And at the same time I wanted to say that it is okay to celebrate men.
You just kicked off your Woman To Woman tour and you’re taking the stage in Detroit with artist Keyshia Cole. What’s your relationship like with Keisha and what are your thoughts on her recent Twitter rants?
(Breaking out in a very hearty laughter). I have been waiting on someone to ask me that. You were the very first to do so. You know I haven’t put an answer together for that yet. It’s one of those things where you think about it and you don’t want to judge because you want to actually talk to that person before you be like okay so why did you do that and what did that mean. But you don’t want to say this is what I think because you love the music, you love the fashion, the story and the person. I think Keisha Cole has a very very unique story and a very unique rise to where she is and I think she has a very unique way of expressing her thoughts about the music industry in general. I think that she has earned the right to say what she feels and what she thinks and I think that she has enough hits and has sold enough records and completed enough tours and been in enough TV to earn the right to say what she feels like saying. I also feel like the people whom she’s speaking to have earned the right to respond. And it is definitely not my place to respond for them and I think I would want to leave it at that. She’s successful and she speaks to successful women and so I will leave it at that.
You’ve traveled the world. What has been your greatest inspiration to yourself, your fans and the industry?
I think I’ve given a lot of women hope and encouragement. I’ve met a lot of broken-hearted women on this journey and maybe that’s because of the kinds of songs that I’ve sang but it’s really been phenomenal to tell them that they are going to be okay and to be able to speak at shelters where women have been abused, but they knew they were going to get out of it and to hear them say that your album helped get me through this time. You know those were the most successful moments for me in knowing that there is someone who feels BETTER because of something I’ve said. And to be able to pray some woman through their experience is great.
Chrisette Michele will be in concert on Thursday, April 11, 2013 at 8:00 p.m. at Soundboard inside the MotorCity Casino Hotel. Tickets can be purchased at www.ticketmaster.com. Stay connected with Chrisette on Twitter @ChrisetteM and www.thisischrisettmichele.com.