Anyone whose had the pleasure of knowing singer, songwriter, pianist and reality television star K. Michelle since her childhood is aware that she was destined to be the woman she is today. Outspoken almost since birth, the young Memphis native was given the largest bedroom in her family’s home so that her walk-in closet would grant her impromptu performances more space and the rest of the household increased quiet. Gymnastic, swimming and piano courses kept her inquisitive spirit busy until age nine, when the time arrived for her to begin vocal lessons with renowned children’s vocal coach Bob Westbrook (Justin Timberlake, Brittany Spears etc). A lifelong affinity for country music (The Judds are a personal favorite), lead to Michelle earning a scholarship to Florida A&M for yodeling.
After graduating with a degree in psychology, the next decade would play out like a television script. The songstress would meet and hire legendary entertainment attorney Erika Wright (Jonas Brothers, Timberlake etc), score a deal with Jive records off of her expansive voice and R.Kelly-esque writing style, become a victim of domestic violence with a label employee, successfully get released from her contract, reignite her career by landing on hit reality TV show, Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta, and then sign with Atlantic by way of Warner Bros Records. With Michelle’s second and final season of L&HHA’s beginning this spring, it couldn’t be a more fitting time for the release of her debut album, Rebellious Soul. For the millions of fans who have watched the no-nonsense cutie fight for what she feels is right on television every week, her album title is most apropos. “I’m a rebel, a firecracker,” she tells. “I do what I want to do. My music is like that as well. I rebel against anything that society tries to use to keep us boxed in––racism, judgment, anything that makes you feel inferior as a woman.”
In today’s do-it-yourself-digital times, artists like K. Michelle, who come to the table with a built-in fan base, normally either lose their music focus to television notoriety or go the independent route. The siren surely could’ve easily chosen the latter path. Last summer, she added a guest spot on Bobby V’s single, “Put It In,” to her lengthy list of collaborations (Missy Elliott, Usher, R. Kelly etc). Even more impressive, along with the release of her fourth mixtape in three years, “0 F**ks Given,” she dropped a single, “Kiss My Ass” on iTunes which charted competitive alongside major label artists. It was a testament to Michelle’s core and their commitment to her success, with or without a record contract. “I almost didn’t sign with a label because with [Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta] and my mixtape, I had garnered a huge fan base,” she says. “The show changed my career. I had a couple fans but nothing like now where I can sell out shows. But [signing with Warner] just felt comfortable.”
Now that K’s putting reality television on the backburner and her music career to the forefront, she’s gearing up for the Rebellious Soul release with a 10-city summer tour that she promises will feature her live piano skills. The singer’s first full-length will offer a classic, mature sound in the vain of favorite singers like Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige. To assure this sound, Michelle worked with mastermind producers like Pop & Oak (Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj, Big Sean) and Eric Hudson (Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Trey Songz). The result is what she describes as an “old-school” but “aggressive and urgent” music feel. Expect the guest list of vocalists to include Elle Varner and Michelle’s mentor R. Kelly, who will also embrace some maestro duties.
After years of professional and personal lows but mostly highs, it’s time for the once diamond in the rough to be recognized for the true gem that she is. The stars are aligning for Tennessee’s daughter, and she couldn’t be more pleased. “I’m really at a point in my life where I wanna work on myself and just be happy,” she says. “I don’t want any drama. I just want to create that music that makes you feel so good.”