Meeting Carmen Michelle is a lesson in contradictions. Her eloquent, thoughtful lyrics, delivered with a laid-back knowingness of one who's been there and chosen her path, are a stark contrast to her dynamic personality. Though this Wisconsin native's roots lie in the gospel world, Carmen Michelle's songs seduce listeners with beats that match up to that of any R&B diva and are devoid any clichés that one might associate with the genre. A pioneer of what some call "Christian Soul," Carmen Michelle appeals to a whole new generation of music-lovers that love the sound but not always the soul of music today. Never one to follow the pack, she blazes new trails by being true to her beliefs.
The product of a multi-racial family, Carmen Michelle's upbringing exposed her to an eclectic mix of sounds. "My father is Sicilian/French/Norwegian and my mother is African-American/Cherokee. I grew up with my father playing everything from Jimi Hendrix to Pavarotti (Carmen was named for the operatic heroine) and my mom playing every gospel song known to man." Personally and musically she strives to defy any expectations or categorizations assigned to her. Carmen Michelle has established her own unique point of view as an artist. "Being exposed to such diverse genres led me to have great respect for music in general."
Of her beginnings in the church, Carmen Michelle says "My Mom encouraged me at a young age to be productive musically. She would have me sit next to her on Sunday mornings at church while she was playing piano and then move over and have me play. By the time I was twelve, I was playing by myself for the choir!" As a teenager, Carmen Michelle began to focus on her writing and produced commercial jingles for HBO and Cinemax, following up with spots for the local radio stations. Content to blend into the background, Carmen Michelle sharpened her skills by lending supporting vocals to various groups before stepping out on her own to open for visiting acts. At the time R&B was her focus, but after "giving her heart to God," Carmen Michelle underwent a lifestyle change that shaped the destiny of her sound. On a mission to represent, she says "My songs are depictions of what happens when my circumstances meet my beliefs," sentiments that are echoed in tracks like "Hold Me Again" and "Rock and a Hard Place."