Issue #90 - Digital Cover

Published on July 12th, 2015 | by Jameelah "Just Jay" Wilkerson


Chrisette Michele “Driven”

By: Jazmyne Byrd

Once in a blue moon you encounter a voice on the radio so classy and so soulful that you search through the internet search engines to catch a glimpse of who that voice belongs to. You shift through the engines and you discover someone who looks like you and whose style embodies that of a bohemian chic 70’s chick with a golden feather crown. Chrisette Michele is one of the music industry’s most distinctive voices. With her ever evolving style and eclectic fashion sense her presence in the music world is one that causes you to pay attention and take notice. The 32- year old singer introduced us to her free flow music style in 2007 with her debut album “I AM” featuring songs like “Be Ok and If I had My Way” and she has been feeding music lovers souls with music ever since. With a Grammy under belt and countless music award nominations, she has now chosen to taken the reigns of her musical journey into her own hands.

IMG_6154Recently departing from the iconic music label “Motown”, in pursuit to express her own creativity more freely, she created her own music label Rich Hipster under Capital Records distribution. With a label title so different one may ask what is a Rich Hipster, according to the creator herself, she says “it’s me sitting in front of a coffee house in Williamsburg (NY) seeing all these rich people in dirty converses, and wondering why their sneakers are dirty. So I began to follow them around and asked them questions, talked to them and hung out with them and I found out they were just like me. I found out that they had this appreciation for culture, for art and for things that were unique and different. Not only did they appreciate it but they supported entrepreneurs and up and coming brands and there was a community of these types of people in Brooklyn and I named them “Rich Hipster”. Because they were rich in heart and rich in culture.”

Not only does Rich Hipster serve as an independent music label, it also serves as a blog that caters to fashion, culture, art and music. It gives the Couple of Forever singers fan base and art lovers a glimpse into her life, she says “It’s more of an online living room is what I’m calling it. It’s a kind of space where you can go and feel loved, feel support and see what I do every day.” When it comes to her fashion sense the songstress loves to keep it hip and interesting, when asked about her evolving looks she says,” Its’ about the sounds that I’m hearing and trying to look like them. When I go into a studio session I always try to look like what I want the music to feel like and sound like, so that the musicians and people who come and hang out with me in the studio can kind of get an idea about where I’m going. I have to feel and be the music so when the music changes I change with it.”

Her most recent album “Better” dropped in 2013. She says that “This album was very near and dear to my heart. I wanted to pay homage to R&B in general. People would ask me what did I think about the state of R&B and I wasn’t really sure if it mattered a lot to me, right because it’s music. So at the end of the day I wanted to see what would happen if I made a straight R&B record and it was Grammy nominated. Which let me know people still appreciate an R&B record”. Experimenting with different styles of music is what led Chris to release her EP in 2014 called “Lyricist Opus”, which contained eight tracks and a song entitled “Make Us One”, which depicts her experience traveling to Johannesburg, South Africa in the fall of 2014. “I was sitting on a bed in South Africa with one of my friends and we were talking about how when we were in certain building people would push us or curse at us or say things under their breath and we didn’t know why. And so we asked someone why are people so upset with us and so hostile? And they told us it was because of the color of our skin. And I promise you we had no idea that’s what it was, we didn’t even see that coming. They said that they go through something called colorism where they live and depending on the color of your skin, there might be some sort of anger towards you. It’s kind of hard to believe and you still want to go back and you still want to love on the country because the whole country is beautiful but to experience that it kind of hurt a little bit. So I wrote a song called “Make us One”, it was about that experience and it was universal also.”

In 2014 Chris became a reality TV star when she joined the cast of “R&B Diva’s LA” alongside; Lil Mo, Leela James, Michell’e, and Chante Moore. This show portrays some of R&B’s best female vocalist in the game sharing their lives on the camera. Wearing angel wings and spreading love with her fellow cast mates, set this diva apart. Chrisette however doesn’t consider herself to be a “reality star”, in fact when asked about how she felt about being a reality star, she paused and said “I didn’t know I was a reality star”. Humbly she notes the importance of her decision to be a part of the show, “Well you know people finally got to see my personality. They found out that I was corky and they found out that I was who I ’am. And it took a really long time for me to finally get people to see who I really am. R&B music is so pretty right! So like diamonds and silk and I don’t have any diamonds and I don’t own a lot of silk and so I never felt like I looked like R&B, I never felt like I acted like R&B, so it was really nice to let my hair down, wear my angel wings, go camping, be myself, be loud with Leela and soft with Michele. It was just important for people to see me”. Chrisette has decided that she will not return to the next season of the show.

What keeps Chrisette grounded in an industry that’s so easy to get caught up in? Its remaining true to her art and purpose, she says “People get into the music industry and forget why they are there, they forget what the point of getting on stage is and every once in a while I have to say Chrisette hey remember why you are here today, you’re not just here to be cute. You’re here to give and so that’s why sometimes when I’m on stage, I sing like my life depends on it. Because I’m thinking I’m here to give this to somebody”. During each performance Chrisette finds time to go back to her roots of singing gospel music in a choir as a child. She sings a gospel tune for her audience during her set to remind herself of why she is standing on the stage.

With her own label, vlog, and being a part of a reality series one would think that Chrisette has a lot on her plate, yet she finds the time to explore another dream; becoming a fashion designer. A (Hype Magazine Exclusive) During the 2015 Essence Music Festival Chrisette did a soft launch debut of her own fashion line. This line caters to sizes 2 all the way to the curvy girls. Her line will feature boning to accent the curves and funky pieces to show off the curves.

More than just a voice … Crisette Michele is driven to succeed … stay tuned!


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About the Author

Publisher and CEO of The Hype Magazine. Follow me on Twitter @HypeJustJay

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