Chrisette Michele in 2007.
|Birth name||Chrisette Michele Payne|
|Born||(1982-12-08) December 8, 1982
Central Islip, New York, U.S.
|Origin||Patchogue, New York, U.S.|
Chrisette Michele Payne (born December 8, 1982), known professionally as Chrisette Michele, is an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter. She won a Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in 2009 for her song “Be OK“.
She was previously signed to Motown Records and Caroline/Capitol Records, but was dropped from her label in 2017. In the same year, she announced plans to release new music independently through her own label, Rich Hipster.
Michele was born in Central Islip, New York, and grew up in Patchogue. Her father was a sociologist and her mother a psychologist. Michele led gospel choirs in high school. She attended Five Towns College in Dix Hills, New York, and graduated with a vocal performance degree.
2006–08: Musical beginnings and I Am
Michele has been featured on several hip hop albums. She is featured on The Game‘s album LAX on “Let Us Live”. On Jay-Z‘s Kingdom Come she is featured on the second single “Lost One“, while on Nas‘ Hip Hop Is Dead, she is featured three times: on the album’s second single “Can’t Forget About You“, the Kanye West-produced “Still Dreaming”, and the final track “Hope”. She also appeared on the bonus track “Slow Down”, from Ghostface Killah‘s The Big Doe Rehab.
Michele’s debut album, I Am, was released on June 18, 2007. The song “Your Joy” was released on iTunes as a free single of the week. The album spawned four singles: “If I Have My Way”, “Best of Me“, “Be OK“, and “Love Is You”. The album’s lead single “If I Have My Way” charted at number twenty-four on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. “Best of Me” charted on the US Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks at number twenty-one. In December 2007, “Be OK” was released as the third single, charting at number sixty-four on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. In 2008, “Love Is You” was released as the album’s fourth and final single; it reached number ninety on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
In 2008, Michele appeared on the track “Rising Up” from the Roots‘ album Rising Down. Michele guest starred as herself in The CW‘s Girlfriends, in the episode entitled “What’s Black-a-Lackin’?”, which originally aired on February 11, 2008. She also wrote a song for Tyler Perry’s House of Payne titled “I’ve Gotta Love Jones”. From May to July 2008 Michele embarked on a nationwide co-headlining tour with fellow soul singer Raheem DeVaughn called the Art of Love Tour; Solange Knowles served as the opening act. In September 2008, Michele performed twice at the Evening of Stars: A Tribute to Patti LaBelle.
2009–12: Epiphany, Let Freedom Reign and mixtape releases
In mid-2008, Michele began recording for her second album, Epiphany. In January 2009, the album’s title track was released as the lead single. It marked as Michele’s first solo entry to the Billboard Hot 100, where it peaked at number 89. Released on May 5, 2009, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 selling 83,000 copies in its opening week. A week after the release of Epiphany, another single was released, titled “Blame It on Me”. It didn’t repeat the success of “Epiphany (I’m Leaving)”; however it peaked at number twenty-eight on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was followed by two more: “What You Do” in July and “Fragile” in November. Originally, “What You Do” was planned to be the second single from the album. The song features Ne-Yo, who worked with Michele on the album. After the release of Epiphany, she started working on her next album. Michele has worked with rapper Rick Ross and Canadian rapper/singer Drake on the fourth single of Ross’s album Teflon Don called “Aston Martin Music”. The song was released on October 5, 2010. Michele released her third studio album, Let Freedom Reign, on November 30, 2010. The album included the singles, “I’m a Star” and “Goodbye Game”. “I’m a Star” was released in September, and was followed by “Goodbye Game” and “I Don’t Know Why, But I Do”, both in November, just before the release of the album. The album features Michele performing hip-hop, R&B, as well as the dance-pop influenced “So Cool”. The album debuted at number 25 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 42,000 copies in its first week. It also peaked at number seven on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. On November 5, 2010, her first mixtape Love Thy Brother was released. On December 7, 2012, her second mixtape titled Audrey Hepburn: An Audiovisual Presentation was released. The mixtape contained some of songs recorded for her fourth studio album, including its single “Charades”, among other tracks.
2013–present: Better, R&B Divas LA, The Lyricist’s Opus and Milestone
The first single from her fourth album Better, titled “Charades”, was released on January 29, 2013. Previously, “Charades” was featured on her second mixtape album, released in late 2012. The second single “A Couple of Forevers” was released in February. A video premiered the following month. Michele’s fourth album, Better, was released on June 11, 2013 through Motown Records. It was produced by Michele, Shea Taylor and Pop & Oak etc. Michele collaborated with rappers such as 2 Chainz and Wale on the album. The album debuted at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart, selling 27,000 copies in its first week. It was nominated at 2014 Grammy Awards for Best R&B Album. Chrisette Michelle joined the cast of R&B Divas LA for its second season. On March 20, 2015, it was reported that she left the show. On November 24, 2014, Michele released her latest project entitled The Lyricist’s Opus for digital download. Two music videos were released from the EP: “Super Chris” on October 1, and “Together” on December 15.
On November 12, Michele released her single “Steady”. It was produced by Blickie Blaze, also from Four Kings Productions, who are currently collaborating with Michele for her album. “Steady” is the lead single from her upcoming fifth studio album Milestone, which was scheduled for release on June 10, 2016 via her label Rich Hipster.
In January 2017 media outlets reported that Michele would perform at the Inauguration of Donald Trump. This was met with backlash on social media, prompting Michele to respond via an open letter on Twitter, stating that she had intended her performance to serve as a bridge between the pro and anti-Trump supporters. Author Aliya S. King published a response to the singer’s letter on BET, expressing disappointment with Michele’s choice to perform and felt like her letter was a “cop-out”. Michele was initially supposed to perform at the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration held the day prior to the inauguration, but did not perform and instead performed at one of the inaugural balls the following day. In response to her performing, Spike Lee removed Michele’s song “Black Girl Magic” from his upcoming Netflix series She’s Gotta Have It. Subsequent to the performance, Michele announced the release of her poetry album No Political Genius.
- I Am (2007)
- Epiphany (2009)
- Let Freedom Reign (2010)
- Better (2013)
- Milestone (2016)
- Out of Control (2018)
- The Art of Love Tour (with Raheem DeVaughn) (2008)
- The Epiphany Tour (2010)
- The Milestone Tour (2016)
- Woman to Woman Tour for Keyshia Cole (2013)
- Liberation Tour for Mary J. Blige (2013)
- Appreciation Tour for Jaheim (2013)
Awards and nominations
|2008||Vibe Music Award||Breakthrough Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|Grammy Award||Best Female R&B Vocal Performance (“If I Have My Way”)||Nominated|
|BET Award||Best New Artist||Nominated|
|Centric Music Award||Virtual Awards: Soul Approved||Won|
|Female Artist of the Year||Nominated|
|NAACP Image Awards||Outstanding New Artist||Nominated|
|2009||Grammy Award||Best Urban/Alternative Performance (“Be OK“)||Won|
|Soul Train Awards||Best R&B/Soul Female Artist||Nominated|
|Urban Music Awards||Best Female Act||Nominated|
|2010||Centric Award||Centric Award||Nominated|
|2013||Soul Train Award||Best R&B/Soul Female Artist||Nominated|
|2014||Grammy Award||Best R&B Album (Better)||Nominated|