September 12th, 2022 10:15pm Stage 1
Michelle Willis is a Canadian singer, songwriter and keyboard player based in Brooklyn NY. She is a member of David Crosby & Sky Trails, David Crosby & Lighthouse, and the Becca Stevens Band.
As a kid growing up, singing and playing was a way of communication; a pathway to self expression. “I grew up in the 90s, when the hits on the radio were women like Shawn Colvin, Lauryn Hill, Amanda Marshall, Jann Arden, Whitney Houston, Alanis Morissette, Janet Jackson and Sarah McLachlan. These women dominated my emo-brain. They said how they felt; their songs felt deep, harmonically and lyrically. Their music was a place where all my teenage emotion could live and be perfectly expressed. Around the same time, I was singing Brahms, Mozart and Bach in the choir I sang in with my family, so all that music was circling around in my brain.”
She later grew to learn the vocabulary of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s songwriters, a sound she has grown quite close to given her fixed position in two bands led by American songwriting folk legend David Crosby. After studying jazz in Toronto, the art of song structure, lyric writing, and delivery became the new foundation she leaned on, taking cues from heavyweights like Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Carole King, Donny Hathaway, CSNY, Ray Charles, Paul Simon, Jimmy Webb and The Beatles.
Since moving to New York, Willis has cemented her place as an in-demand keyboard player and singer, touring and recording with a diverse array of artists such as the aforementioned Crosby, Becca Stevens, Zac Brown Band, Iggy Pop, Laura Mvula and Michael McDonald. Taking her unique style and adapting it to a band’s sound has fed the melting pot of harmony and melody that defines her music.
Despite touring schedules that placed her on the road for 200+ days a year, Willis sought to finish a sophomore record to follow her full length debut, See Us Through, 2016. The new album, out now on GroundUp Music, is titled Just One Voice. It’s an ambitious studio record with a live and filmed concert that showcases eleven new songs and features guest performances by Crosby, Michael McDonald, Grégoire Maret, Becca Stevens, and Taylor Ashton.