Michelle Walker

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Born January 9, 1967 in Bohmholder, Germany.

Occasionally there comes along an artist that commands your attention. A sound that seems to transcends any particular genre. One that causes the listener to pause and take notice. For the modern Jazz world that artist is without question Michelle Walker. Her sound breathes a sense of unexpected familiarity to the listener. Not knowing what pleasures she will bring next to the microphone leaves you with anticipation. Her deep and stirring voice has won the acclaim of a broad audience in the local music scene in the Washington, DC area. She can be seen regularly at some of DC’s local jazz venues like Fino’s and La Porta’s as well as her old stomping ground Dean and Deluca’s outdoor café in Georgetown.

You could say that singing is in her blood. Her grandmother, Ruby Mae Wright, was an amateur jazz and blues singer from Alabama. Daughter of an Army Captain and busy housewife, Michelle was born the fifth child of six. Being a part of a large family during the 1970’s who fashioned themselves as the next family group like The Jackson Five or The Osmonds, she developed finely tuned ears for notes and rhythm. According to her sister Lynnise Rivers, “Michelle stood out from us for her ability to take songs apart, developing each vocal part and learning to reproduce the sounds she heard.” Michelle spent a large part of her childhood in community musical theatre. At the age of 12 she auditioned and was accepted into a school that concentrated on the Arts. ARTAG (Artistically Talented and Gifted Students) opened up to her a world of drama, dance and music for half the school day and the other half academics.

The diverse musicians of 1970’s generation were teachers and their music an avenue of discovery. From the soulful LTD, Al Green and Gladys Knight to the stirringly melodic Karen Carpenter, Jim Croce and Barry Manilow as well as other groups like the Eagles, Earth-Wind-and-Fire, Doobie Brothers and Chicago engaged her to sing everyday of her life. “There hasn’t been a day since I was 5 years old that I haven’t sung a note. My family got use to me answering their questions with a line from famous standards that my dad always played on the record player.” It is very clear in her tone and delivery of song that Michelle carries within her the lessons learned long ago. This is why her sound is so warm and familiar.

After high school, Michelle spent some time in London, England pursuing a singing career. She spent two years on the singers circuit and learned a great deal about performing live with bands. As a promise to her parents, she returned to the United States in order to finish college. While at the University of Maryland, Michelle began to study voice as a music minor. In the spring of 1996 she took a jazz class with Ronnie Wells and Ron Elliston and knew that her life had changed. During graduate school at American University, Michelle studied privately with D.C. jazz vocalist Pam Bricker and pianist Wayne Wilentz. In the spring of 2001, she formed her own Trio and began working steadily in clubs and festivals around the city. The Michelle Walker Trio will be touring and promoting her debut release “Slow Down” in the spring and summer of 2002.

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