The old-school pleasures of Chrisette Michele

Chrisette_lThese days, when new artists seemingly come a dime a dozen, I was pleasantly surprised to have stumbled across the MySpacepage of Island Def Jam artist Chrisette Michele,whose debut CD I Am drops June 19. (You may recognize her as the sultryvoice that helped Jay-Z cut his losses in his 2006 hit “Lost Ones.”)

And, oh, that voice!

Look, I like Rihanna and Beyonce just as much as the next listener, but she reminds me of the not-so-long ago time when my favorite R&B artists were just that — R&B artists. If iPods were around back then, mine would’ve been filled with the pure, unadulterated rhythm-and-bluesof performers like SWV, Monica (pre- After the Storm), and 702. These were women whose lyrics and vocal technique did not have to rely on an abundance of hype (sorry, Beyonce), killer dance moves(it’s true, Ciara), or stellar production masking lackluster vocals (but we still love you, Rihanna).

Listening to her old-school vocal stylings, It’s no surprise that,in addition to her collabo with Hov, Chrisette has already done a song with Nas. Or thatshe credits Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald as major influences. Orthat she toured with the soulful India Arie after the “I am Not My Hair" singerdiscovered her at The Village Underground. (And Making the Bandfans: ya’ll know that The Village Underground is “where the singas go tosaaang.” Oh, and PrettyAubrey goes there too.)

I’m sure many of you are thinking: Beyonce can too sing! and  Rihanna belts her little heartout on "Umbrella"! I agree that they can sing. They just don’t.It’s my theory that many oftoday’s pop stars suffer from what I call Keith Sweat Syndrome, whichtakes its name from that famed R&B singer who once madesome very good musicbefore somebody apparently told him that whining is sexy. (Itisn’t). Ironically, his birth name is Keith Crier. Another reason for thethrough-the-nose vocals?

But, I digress. I think Chrisette Michele offers a cure for KSS,which among the pop stars of today, is evident in their tendency tobreathe heavily into the mic, or to sing songs devoted to a skanky dress.

Am I on to something here PopWatchers? Is Chrisette Michele is bringing vocalsback?


Comments (18 total) Add your comment
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  • Sally

    I agree, she’s young and has a mature Billy Holidayish voice + she plays piano and writes her own songs. There are a handful of really deep voice singing women: Kelly Clarkson, Jen-Hud, Fantasia to name a few.
    They all have long careers in music. Just keeping it real, they will find their audience.

  • stephen

    Holy crap, she rocks!! She kinda reminds me of Norah Jones, only with a beat behind it. Sory to all Norah fans. Can’t wait to read EW’s review of her CD!!!

  • Sally

    Hate to compare…but Jill Scottish? On second listen the tunes aren’t THAT good. Lyrics aren’t anything to write home about…Easy listening music.
    But Loved her in that NAS video.

  • idigress

    I saw her on Letterman last night, she was great. I immediately “googled” her and was taken to her MySpace page. I will be buying the CD on the 19th.

  • stephen

    by the way Bethonie, PLEASE don’t initiate any Beyonce hate. There is more than enough of that on these blogs. Sometimes it comes out of nowhere. If we are going to hate, let’s attack someine untalented. (Be creative, please. There’s already a post about Paris).

  • trw1570

    I’m sorry but Rihanna cannot sing. I don’t know where you got that from.

  • David

    SWV!?!? Yuck!!! Ugly girls with even uglier and unmelodic songs!! SWV = Sisters WITHOUT Voices! Hahahaha!

  • Ian from Norwalk, CT

    I agree she can def. sing! I love that song she did with Nas. It’s a standout track and I noticed her jazz influences immediately. Wow, you went back to swv and 702. I liked them too! that was good music and people sometimes forget about the 90’s already. Beyonce is not a talented vocalist!!! Kelly Rowland sounds better and Rihanna is god awful and people keep trying to say she isn’t. she’s just cute and has the image to get her thru. Jill Scott, India Arie, Chrisette, Amy Winehouse, and Christina Aguilera are arguably the most talented vocalists to come out in the last 20 years or so. I now just wonder which of these ladies will have the staying power to be relevant 10 years from now. Oh, by the way you are real funny with the Keith Sweat comments! Lol, my cousins used to love that dude back in the day. I always thought dude sounded like a whiny lil b*tch.
    For what it’s worth I think the only real talented male performer these days is hands down Usher! that dude is king!!!!!!!!

  • Mozz

    I added that GOOD GIRL song to my myspace page, and guess what, I don’t care i’m not a girl, that is the best song I’ve heard in YEARS!!!! So glad POPWATCH pointed her out, this page introduces me to artists I never even know and has revolutionized the way I listen to music. Thanks.

  • Joe C

    Ian, Mariah Carey is the most talented vocalist(INARGUABLY!) to come onto the scene in the last 20 years. Her staying power attests to that; she’s still relevant, and people(Beyonce, Christina, Usher, Justin) continue to copy her sound. I don’t deny that the people you mention are talented, but we’ll see where they are ten years from now. Rock on, Mimi!

  • Holly

    I am glad to hear that I am not the only one who thinks Rihanna cannot sing… I had to listen to unfaithful 10 times before I realized what the heck she was singing about. I would have liked if better if someone else sung it.
    But Chrisette is a breath of fresh air for R&B.

  • t-fal

    I googled her after i heard the Nas song a few months ago…I can’t wait for her cd to drop. Glad she’s getting some needed publicity.

  • LeAnthony

    Wow! Joe C are you crazy this has nothing to do with mariah carey.Chrisette Michele is a very talented person. With a nice jazzy but rich voice.As far as the whole beyonce thing goes!Everybody always hates on her but she can sing!She does not need the hype.I just think most hate on her because of her looks and talent.Mariah carey sucks she can not sing anymore and more than likely never really could.It’s time to give the new generation a chance and leave the 90’s on a greatest hits cd or in your distant memories because they are not coming back

  • Qiana

    I’m going to need you to lay off of Keith Sweat…To even compare these newcomers to him is an insult whether negative or not. These non singin wanna be’s coming out nowadays cant even do half of what Keith has on their good day.

  • Stef

    This is really weird, I haven’t heard about SWV since the 90s, and this is the second time this week it’s been mentioned. The weirdest part is that the other mention was EW’s review of Rihanna’s new CD, which said that she reminded him of SWV.

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