Michelle Marie: Two Countries, One Language
AAJ: Tell us about your current endorsements.
MM: D´Addariowonderful strings that I would never change. My range is pretty wide, from 12 gauge chromes to 9-1/2 gauge for rock and 10s or 11s for pop music. Gretsch Guitars has also been great to me; I love their guitars, and am lucky to be part of an outstanding team. The Zoom Q3HD [handheld high definitions audio/video recorder] is amazing to use; I use it all the time, and there is a new one coming out this summer. [Effects processor manufacturer] Eventide: I was honored to be a part of this little somewhat chilling movie of preppy girl at work that turns into a guitarist. It was fun to do, and Eventide rep Alan Chaput has been a great supporter, with all the pedals from Eventide. They really have great stuff.
I received the endorsement for Seymour Duncan just this year and I am so happy to be a part of their family; they are so supportive. The artist reps are easy to communicate with. I was lucky to be a part of their Girl Rock event at NAMM 2012, and that is how I ended up connected to them. I met Seymour Duncan, the man himself, and have a nice interview with him online.
AAJ: How was the Quebec City Jazz Festival last year and NAMM this year?
MM: Quebec is a lovely city, and I really love going there. I will be there again in October for the 2012 Jazz Festival, which is where I plan to debut my new music. NAMM 2012 kept me busy with booth performances, a special event for Girl Rock Nation with Seymour Duncan that was really great, 'cause I love their pickups so much. I also had concert with some of the members of the Beyoncé Band, in a project called Lipstick. NAMM is an awesome event that allows musicians to see what new gear is coming out. I love going every year, and every year its gets better. On my first visit to NAMM, I made my connection with Fender/Gretsch Guitars, and this year was Eventide and Seymour Duncan. It really is so much fun going there.
AAJ: Where are you playing these days?
MM: I was on tour right after the filming of Black Girls Rock! in October, 2011 for a R&B/gospel music project with [keyboardist] Brittani Washington. Right before Christmas, I filmed the video for Eventide, was on a short tour of the Midwest, and up to now have been working on recordings for other artists. I am finally finding myself with some time to regroup and work with my own music again.
AAJ: If you could choose, who would you like to play with and why?
MM: Jill Scott; she is amazing and has the best parts for guitar. She is one of my favorite singers and love her lyrics, as well as Erika Badushe has an amazing vibe, and writes such airy compositions. I've played guitar for both Jill and Erika through Black Girls Rock!, which was an awesome moment for me. Wayne Shorter would be my first thought. I love his music and approach. I play a lot of his tunes in my performances. I love Keith Jarrett, but that would be like if I was in heaven. He plays so beautiful all the time, I think I'll leave that one as a dream, and would rather keep it that way for some reason.
AAJ: Tell us the first thing that pops into your mind. Music?
MM: I love creating a vibe with music and I am dedicated to my guitar.
MM: The guitar is an extension of me.
AAJ: New York.
MM: A hectic city, with beautiful museums and places to see shows and music, although I spend most of my off time on Long Island, so I can be close to the ocean.
AAJ: The Dominican Republic.
MM: When I am there I feel a peace of mind that I don't feel here in New York. Everyone is happy, no matter what situation they are in, rich or poor. Life there is about being together, with food and music, which is nice.
AAJ: Favorite recording by other musician?
MM: [Pianist] Bill Evans, Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961).
AAJ: One final message to share?
MM: I have learned more, this year, to stay true to who you are and be yourself; your value, at the end of the day, is when you can look at yourself in the mirror and know, in your heart, that you are staying true to yourselfand for no one else but yourself. Stay on your focused path of choice, block out the noise and negativity inside or around you, and always listen to that inner voice inside yourself. Always take the time to listen and you will find what you are looking for.>
Michelle Marie, Michelle Marie (MM Records Group, Inc., 2008)
All Photos: Courtesy of Jazz en Dominicana