Chrisette Michele went from catching the eyes, ears, and hearts of many lovers of R&B/Soul when her voice first captivated listeners on Jay-Z’s “Lost One”. Her debut album I Am continued to rise her star as she received a Grammy for her song “Be OK” featuring Will.i.Am. She went on to release a few more albums and singles that satiated her loyal fanbase, until that unfortunate moment when the singer disappointed them all by doing what many considered the unthinkable: perform at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The “No Political Genius” singer agreed to perform alongside Gospel artists Travis Greene, Tye Tribett, and Jonathan McReynolds (Tribbett and McReynolds ultimately decided against it). News of her scheduled performance, what many initially took as an endorsement caused an immediate backlash that the singer hasn’t seemed to fully recover from. Fans left and right expressed utter disappointment, including from celebrities like Questlove of the Roots, and it also prompted Spike Lee to remove her music from his She’s Got To Have It series on Netflix.
Although the backlash from her performance was widespread, Michele told Billboard that a specific group of people’s response hurt affected her the most. “I’ll say that the backlash, I did personally feel, came from members of my extended family who decided that they didn’t want to speak to me anymore or support my family in supporting me,” she admitted.
If that wasn’t enough for the singer to deal with, her experience at the inauguration did not go as expected, as she was unable to meet the newly sworn-in President. “…The woman who organized the event came and told me, ‘Now you’re going to go first and he’s going to go after you,’” she went on to say. “I looked her in the eye and said, ‘My family has disowned me. If you decide to Google me, you’ll see that America is writing about me in their newspapers. I’m the black poster child for discord right now, and he’s not going to shake my hand?’ So no, I didn’t get to meet him.”
Since that stain in her career, the singer has been trying her best to move forward with releasing new music. In 2018, she released the full-length album Out Of Control, and in November of last year she released the new single “Wait”. Chrisette had a chance to speak with YouKnowIGotSoul.com recently to share how that experience affected her, and also where she is now mentally, spiritually, as well as within her career.
“It’s funny because it goes back to that streaming catalog where you kind of look and see people talking through consumption. So who exactly do I serve,” said the “If I Have My Way” singer. “How did they walk away? In what space did they leave me. A lot of that leaving came in the form of unfollowing on social media, or not being welcome in certain circles. But the people who appreciated my sound, and who appreciate me as a person and who had some insight into who I am, continued to listen. That doesn’t mean they liked my decisions, but I remained listened to musically. So what did that mean for me personally? You kinda separate the art from the person. As a person, of course, it was eye-opening. At any given moment, someone can ask you to leave them alone and never speak to them again. When that happened, it takes a minute or two to release your grip from them. You say if you no longer want me here, I’ll go.”
She continued: “That transition period if people no longer wanting me, took me some time. I knew there was some love there, and there was some hate there. The love that was there was just really upset and disappointed. I wanted to be able to explain, but there is a lot of sounds around me. I did the best that I could. Now, four years later, a lot of the connection is coming back. The conversation is resurfacing. But I’ve grown. I love that we’re in communication again, but I don’t know if I’m the same person you left back there. So if I don’t serve you in the same way, I’m still open to being in conversation. I think that’s where I am now. How do I serve that community now.”