CHRISETTE MICHELE ON BEING A LADY
OTHER SIDE OF THE GAME:
The following joint is an exclusive excerpt from award winning writer Edward M. Garnes, Jr.’s long awaited collection Other Side of The Game: Rare Testimonials On Music & Black Cultural Production to be published by Home Grown in 2009.
Chrisette Michele has been here before. Inheriting the vulnerability and matchless vocal character of queens like Billie Holliday and Phyllis Hyman, she plainly personifies loves vacant assurances as well as its soul stirring potential. Michele’s musical gifts vacillate between the sonic mysticism of smoky jazz clubs and the boomin’ system vigor of hip hop. In this exclusive with Ed Garnes, Michele represents for everyday sistas.
ED: As far as your musical contributions, what do you feel will be your legacy?
CHRISETTE MICHELE : A great female writer and a great female producer. You don’t hear about too many great female producers …and I want to be a great one.
There is always infighting between “underground” and “mainstream.” Grammy nominations can keep critics at bay. How does acceptance on a mass level feel?
CHRISETTE MICHELE : I have a lot of friends like Raheem Devaughn, Leela James, India Arie, Erykah Badu, Jill Scott who have all begun to make the step into the mainstream…but still singning something that is very true to them that many other people sing about. So I am just excited to be in the company of so many great people..it means the world to me.
When you hear your music, that sista or brother riding the train to the 9 to 5 relates because you speak on a very human level. How important is making that deep connection with your audience?
CHRISETTE MICHELE : It is an important part of what I do. Actually when I write, I have conversations with people…and try to turn those conversations into songs just so I am always relating with whom I am speaking to.
CHRISETTE MICHELE : I definitely think my second album will have me and my brother become noted producers. I am really excited to showcase what I have in my head.
In the media, especially for black women, there are some very demeaning images. Your image seems in direct contrast to the mainstream. What is your message for the everyday sista looking to be empowered ?
CHRISETTE MICHELE : Being a “lady” means a lot to me. The word “lady” embodies many things if you look in the dictionary or throughout history. Look at “ladies” from our past and right now. And, if you decide to call yourself a “lady”, that means you have a lot to live up to. Also “ladies,” get a job… a very good job.
Award winning writer, educator, counselor, and activist Edward M. Garnes, Jr. is the founder of From Afros to Shelltoes: Art, Action, and Conversation, a nationally acclaimed series of cultural productions confronting the social divide between elders and hip hop heads, and holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and a M.A. in Counseling from Michigan State University . His seminal essay, ” Sweet Tea Ethics: Black Luv, Healthcare, and Cultural Mistrust,” currently appears in Not In My Family: AIDS in the African American Community, a 2007 NAACP Image Award nominated collection edited by Gil Robertson. (www.afrostoshelltoes.com).