Award-winning artist impresses at Kansas City performance

Kharissa Forte

Chrisette Michele impressed a sophisticated crowd at club 7HUNDRED on Sunday, Nov. 11. A live band accompanied her as she crooned familiar songs from her albums.

The audience laughed at her impeccable imitations of R&B legends like K-Ci and JoJo, Fantasia, R. Kelly and Anita Baker.

The Grammy award-winning songstress entertained with her improvisations  including an on-the-spot creation of an ode to Kansas City. When a gentleman joined her on the stage to play the keyboard, she passed his hat around and everyone gladly pitched in their dollar bills. She even recognized one of her Twitter followers that joined the concert by pulling him on stage and singing to him. Little did she know, he planned to sing to her and did a marvelous job, which surprised onlookers including Michele.

Before the show, Michele sat down with U-News to talk about her music after a two-year hiatus and the journey to become comfortable with who she is.

Chrisette Michele discusses her inspiration, goals

Q:What are some of the similarities and differences between your albums I Am, Epiphany  and Let Freedom Reign? How did you grow from one album to the next?

I always intend to the tell truth. On each album, I was going through something totally different.

The growth was learning that I am always Chrisette. I used to always ask, “How do I still be me?”

I learned that, no, I am always Chrisette. My hair changes, my size changes, my sound changes but that is all a part of being me.

Q: What advice do you have for young women who are working hard to make their dreams come true?

Well, the word ‘star’ petrifies me. As a matter of fact ‘I’m a Star,’ a song on my third album, was the hardest for me to get in the studio and record.

I didn’t write it, but the people who were giving it to me were saying, ‘No, this is what your audience needs. This is going to get them through a lot of different things.’

I think you have to see yourself being whatever it is you want to be before you’re there.

Say what you want to be and call yourself that before you’re there. I didn’t think I was a star before I recorded that song at all.

I thought, ‘I can’t say that. That’s ridiculous. People don’t call themselves stars.’

Call yourself a star reporter.

Do you know what I mean? I’m calling myself Chrisette Michele and it took me a long time to say that.

I used to refer to myself as Chris.

I didn’t want to have a ‘celebrity name,’ but you have to call yourself what you want to be. It took me a long time to understand that.

Q:So, what do you do to challenge yourself?

o challenge myself? I sing neo-soul. I’m very feisty and loud.

I’m very colorful and very silly – it’s horrible.

So neo-soul is a challenge for me, especially because people don’t allow neo-soul to evolve.

Miguel is the new neo-soul.

Frank Ocean is the new neo-soul, but you get people criticizing sounds like that when those are some of the greatest sounds that exist right now.

Q: What can we look forward to from you?

I just finished an entire mixtape. It took me two days to record 10 songs. I went to London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam for inspiration.

I traced the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn. It was funny because when I was looking for her, I found myself and we look nothing alike. Can you tell?

I didn’t know that when I started. Audrey Hepburn: The Audiovisual Presentation is the name of the project.

Part one [came] out on my Twitter [on Nov. 12], then the actual full download [comes out] for free on Dec. 8. Of course, I am coming out with an album called Better [scheduled to release sometime next year].

For more information on Chrisette Michele and her music, visit www.ThisIsChrisetteMichele.com.

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