There's more confidence in Chrisette Michele's voice these days, but it has nothing to do with her vocal ability.
The Grammy-winning singer, who debuted with the jazz-soul CD "I Am" in 2007, is speaking her minding on her third disc, "Let Freedom Reign," out this week.
"I used to be so afraid to say what I really think," Michele said. "This album is about me just saying what I need to say, feeling what I need to feel, dressing how I want to dress and emoting how I want to."
And to get some points across effectively, Michele is rapping lyrics instead of singing them.
"When you sing, things are pretty (and) I can't express the things that I'm expressing in this song 'Let Freedom Reign' by singing it," she said.
In a recent interview with The Associated Press, the 27-year-old talked about her new album and explained why she might not be hitting the road to promote "Let Freedom Reign."
Are you nervous about people hearing you rap?
Chrisette Michele: I'm not nervous, I'm curious. I'm usually petrified. ... But this time, I'm not so nervous about people's opinions as I am about if the record label is going to be proud of the numbers. That whole numbers thing makes me uncomfortable. I hate it.
What do you do to ease things?
If I was smart, I would party. I would party all week. I'd get drunk, you know. I'd smoke something. If I were smart, boy! 'Cause I get invited to a lot of parties, but instead I just watch cartoons, hang out with friends, go to the movies, do lots of press. Lots! Lots of press. But I should go get drunk.
Would you say the music industry is cold?
People are mean and hateful, angry - haters everywhere, stupid blogs. People want to type ugly things that if somebody said to them they would lose their mind, but I got to go through it and sing the next day? ... That hurts! So yeah, it's very cold. But you try to separate yourself from as much of the ugliness as you can. It's hard, but I try.
You toured a lot last year with the likes of Maxwell, Anthony Hamilton and Musiq.
I am tour. Hi, my name's tour. It is what I do, 250 days of the year. It's a lot of time. I love it though.
Are you planning to hit the road again?
The truth is an artist like me who doesn't get the type of promotion that we see more commercial artists receive, and especially in this climate of the music business, you have to be creative about how you promote yourself. Now, the people who make money off of my albums aren't necessarily worried about my first-week sales, they're worried about the sales that I receive during my touring schedule. But this time, I'm going to trick some folks up and I'm not going to go on tour until I feel like it.
So are you really saying you won't go on tour?
It's payback. I'm going to go out on tour, though. I'm going to go out on tour when I feel like going on tour. I'm not going on tour to promote the album. I'm going on tour because I love my fans. ... So when I go out on tour it's for them, not for album sales.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
Or just go straight to Atlantic Records, the label they're both signed to.
No, that doesn't work. See, you know, the thing is once you start putting (record) executives into things, people start acting shady. "You shouldn't work with her ..." (or) "She's not coming out with an album for another six months" (or) "She's about to get dropped off her label."
So go straight to the source?
Straight to the source. "Hey Janelle. Hey, (I'm) Chrisette Michele. Good to meet you. Can we do a song together?" She'll say, "Yes, of course." Then her publicist will come (and whisper), "She's too fat" (or) "She's too skinny" (or) "Her hair's too short" (or) "Her hair's too long." Let freedom reign.
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