Introduce yourself, Tell us a bit about your musical career to date, and maybe a fun fact or two:
I’m Michelle Willis. I’m a singer, writer, musician, and a big fan of the oxford comma. I’ve had a wonderful career playing in other people's bands and making my own records, too. I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, but was born in North Yorkshire, England. I’ve been based in Brooklyn NY since 2016.
Favourite gigs / concerts that you’ve performed:
My last gig before lockdown was singing backup for the otherworldly Michael McDonald, with Snarky Puppy and friends as the backing band and Chris Potter on horn - at GroundUP Music Festival. I kept looking across the stage and being baffled and ludicrously joyful that I was there, too. Carnegie Hall with Snarky Puppy, David Crosby, Fatoumata Diawara, Laura Mvula and Chris Thiele, righteously singing Ohio was certainly one for the books. The Family Dinner Volume II recording session was the beginning of many meaningful musical relationships for me. Lastly, the live album for my last record, Just One Voice, was recorded in Toronto surrounded by musicians I’ve loved and played with for years, including Croz, and an audience full of long time supporters and friends. All special stuff made better by great people.
Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raiitt, Aretha Franklin, Donny Hathaway, Paul Simon, Judee Sill, The Beatles
Key collaborations or collaborators over the years:
A few key players in my life are... Becca Stevens (fellow Croz bandmate and stunning songwriter whose band I played in), Michael League & Snarky Puppy (we’re all old pals who’ve been touring and collaborating together over a decade), David Crosby (I toured and wrote in a couple bands of his bands over the last several years), and Three Metre Day (with Don Rooke and Hugh Marsh - a Canadian trio I was a part of that formed much of how I approach music).
What you’re looking forward to at Islay Jazz Festival this year:
I’m really looking forward to hearing and meeting all the musicians, and let’s be honest - Islay whisky.