Michelle Willis is a great voice everyone needs to hear. Channeling Joni Mitchell. Michelle’s songwriting chops are just as sparkling as her vocals…..and she’s a mean keyboard player too.
New single, “Green Grey” is a real gem, taken from her incoming second album, “Just One Voice”, due in April (8th) via GroundUP Music.
The 11-track album features guest spots from David Crosby, Michael McDonald, Becca Stevens and others and is produced with Fab Dupont (Andre 3000, Gregory Porter). “Just One Voice” was written during the intensity of non-stop travel, penned from the cramped seats of buses, planes and countless green rooms.
One night on the open road, Michelle played the title track for David Crosby, her mentor and bandmate, who urged, “No one else sounds like this. This is you. You have to make this record.” Shortly after, she secured a prestigious grant from the Canada Council for the Arts which set the recording process in motion.
The single, “Green Grey”: “This song is meant to be playful, fun and flirtatious, in the (sort of?) innocent first moments of attraction. I spent a few years following the trope of being a young, fun escape to other people’s sadness. That got old, and thankfully so did I. I originally heard this as a combo of Bonnie Raitt’s ‘Something To Talk About’ but with the energy of Simon & Garfunkel’s ‘Cecilia.’ ”
Of the rest of the track listing on “Just One Voice”, Michelle notes: “I originally thought these songs were going to be about ‘being strong alone’ and all this ‘ra ra I can do it by myself’-ness, but in the end, looking at the lyrics I realised they were about the process of getting there, how there’s all sorts of ugly feelings to sort through once we’re on our own that I needed to look at. I do feel stronger and wider for acknowledging them now, but oh boy, can they be uncomfortable to look at.”
Michelle Willis is a Canadian singer-songwriter and keyboard player based in Brooklyn. A Toronto native, she moved to New York in 2016 with few prospects except for a monthly residency at Rockwood Music Hall. Within months she was touring in two bands led by David Crosby (David Crosby & Sky Trails and David Crosby & Lighthouse), another by pop/jazz composer Becca Stevens, and opening for jazz/funk collective Snarky Puppy across the globe.
Ms. Willis has cemented her place as an in-demand keyboard player and singer, touring and recording with a diverse array of artists such as the aforementioned Crosby and Stevens as well as the Zac Brown Band, Iggy Pop, Laura Mvula and Michael McDonald. “Just Once Voice” is the follow-up to her debut long player, 2016’s “See Us Through.”