MICHELLE CHAPPEL, PHD (Princeton) was voted “Most Inspirational Professor of Psychology” at the University of California, Santa Cruz, but ditched academics to follow her childhood dream to be a singer-songwriter. Since then she's had top 10 and 20 radio singles in South Africa and the UK; a #1 hit on US college radio; 7 songs featured on ABC, HBO, Encore, and Showtime; and won 17 International Billboard Songwriting awards. In 2013, she was given the Achievement in Music award by the National League of American Pen Women.
Michelle was born in France, and raised in Georgia. Singing at the age of four, she eventually left music behind to pursue a PHD in psychology from Princeton. When she was a professor, students used to line up outside her office to ask for her advice. She always told them to follow their hearts. One afternoon she realized she wasn’t following her own heart, and left teaching to become a rock-n-roll star.
Chappel’s music has been featured in The Washington Post, Tech Crunch, WorldNews.com, Change.org, The New Musical Express (UK), International News (France), and Science of Mind magazine.
Just under 5 feet tall, the petite singer has a strong and dynamic voice, and compelling message for our times. Her songs are catchy and inspirational.
"In a world filled with 'cookie cutter' recording artists, Michelle Chappel stands head and shoulders above the crowd."
- Greg Edmunson, music composer for the hit TV series King of the Hill
Michelle Chappel -- vocals, rhythm guitar
Jack van Breen -- lead guitar
Robert Berry -- bass guitar
Damien Gonzalez -- drums
David DiLullo -- percussion (guest)
CALL ME CRAZY, Beautiful Thing Records, Summer 2013
SHAKE IT UP, Beautiful Thing Records, 2011
SHINE, Beautiful Thing Records, 2008
SIMPLE GRACES, Beautiful Thing Records, 2003
THE WHEELS ON THE BUS, Shifty Disco Records, 2002
INFINITY + 1, MAN, Gold Circle International, 2000
MICHELLE CHAPPEL, PolyGram, 1994
The title track from Chappel’s 6th CD “Call Me Crazy” was chosen to be shopped as a potential cover to Miranda Lambert, Gretchen Wilson, and other major artists in Nashville.
The track “Everything's Gonna Be Alright”, from Chappel’s 5th CD Shake it Up, is currently playing on Positive Music Radio; it’s also being considered for a reality TV show on HBO in which Chappel would perform live.
The track “Beautiful World”, from Shake it Up, aired on Hay House radio in January and February 2012, and Women of Substance Radio in June 2012 in honor of Father’s Day.
The music for "A Little Bit of Heaven", off the CD Shake it Up, was chosen for the book "101 Inspiring Songs - The Ultimate New Thought Fakebook," which features top artists in New Thought. Distributed by the Hal Leonard Corp., 2012.
The music video for "A Little Bit of Heaven", starring Betsy Franco, featured on Oprah.com.
The cover "Me and Bobby McGee", off the CD Shine, streamed on Women of Substance radio in 2011.
The CD Shake it Up was offered a distribution deal by SavvyMuzik Records, Sydney, Austalia in 2011.
The track “No Place like Home”, from Shake it Up, was featured in Change Org (2010) and Science of Mind Magazine (2011); the accompanying music video raised donations for homeless organizations from Atlanta to San Jose.
“No Place like Home” streamed on Women of Substance Radio in 2010; the accompanying music video is currently streaming on Positive Music Radio.
Chappel was a finalist for “Best International Artist” in Australia’s premier music awards for independent artists, The MusicOz Awards (2009).
Chappel’s music video for “Do Some Livin”, the title track off her CD Shine, won The New Musical Express award in the UK (2009).
Chappel’s songs “Down this Road Before,” “You Won’t See Me Cry,” “Flying Free,” and “Time for a Change” garnered 4 Honorable Mentions in Billboard Magazine’s International Songwriting Contest (2009).
Chappel's music video "Screw You Yahoo" received 17,000 hits in one day and was featured in The Washington Post and Newsweek.com (2008, 2009).
Chappel’s song “No Place Like Home”, off Shake it Up, placed third in Billboard’s World Song Contest in the Americana/Folk category competing against over 20,000 entries (2008).
The title track from the CD Shine streamed on OneVibration radio, and was featured in Science of Mind Magazine alongside Joni Mitchell and Karen Drucker (2008).
Chappel’s song “You Won’t See Me Cry” from the CD Shine was a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Competition in the Folk/Singer-Songwriter category competing against over 15,000 entries from over 100 countries (2008).
The songs "You Know Me" and "Bring Some Roses" from the CD Simple Graces, streamed on One Vibration Radio (2007).
The track "So Disappointed”, from the CD Simple Graces, was a semi-finalist in the International Songwriting Contest (2004).
Chappel contributed seven songs to the soundtrack of Frog & Wombat, Laurie Agard’s internationally distributed independent film, featured on HBO, Showtime, Encore and ABC (1999 – 2007).
Chappel performed as Pat Benatar for Karaoke Revolution, selected as one of the top 10 best games of the year by The New York Times (2003).
Chappel performed as “Mad Donna” on “The Wheels On The Bus” (Shifty Disco Records). The song charted at No. 17 on UK radio stations; the accompanying video aired on MTV Europe (2002).
Chappel’s sophomore CD, Infinity + 1, Man held a No. 1 position and several Top 10 positions on US College Radio (2000).
Infinity + 1, Man was the top-selling independent release for 14 weeks at Tower Records in San Jose, California (2000).
Chappel was chosen in Top 100 bands/artists in Billboard Magazine’s International Songwriting Contests (1999).
Chappel’s songs have garnered 12 Outstanding Achievement Awards in Billboard Magazine’s International Songwriting Contests (1994 – 1999).
Eleven tracks on Michelle Chappel’s self-titled debut CD received radio airplay in South Africa. The CD was selected as “Feature of the Week” by four major South African Radio stations and the artist was chosen as “Woman of the Week” on the largest radio station in the country (1994).
The track “Strange Kind of Love” was a Top 10 single on regional Adult Contemporary stations; the accompanying video aired on South African TV (1994).
Voted “Most Inspirational Professor of Psychology” at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
International creativity speaker and workshop leader for the past decade; helped thousands of people on the road to personal and professional success.
Consultant at Google, Yahoo, eBay; former Vice President of one of the first social network sites in the world (WeeWorld/AOL).
Teaching, Hang-gliding and Singing: Michelle Chappel Does it All!
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The audience seemed to love her, students and older people alike. Each song was punctuated by uproar...The audience seemed to love her, students and older people alike. Each song was punctuated by uproarious applause, and the end of the session brought a scream of “Encore!” so loud that it seemed to shake the walls.”
Singer/songwriter (and college professor) Michelle Chappel has taken several paths to personal fulfillment
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It's tempting to say that Chappel is leading a double life "" she's a veteran singer/songwriter with...It's tempting to say that Chappel is leading a double life "" she's a veteran singer/songwriter with an international following who writes pop songs laced with messages of personal fulfilment; and she's an academic in cognitive psychology with a Ph.D. from Princeton who has served on the faculty of Santa Clara University and UC Santa Cruz. Heck, you could make it a triple life "" Chappel is also a consultant in Silicon Valley and has worked with Yahoo, Google and TiVo.
Michelle Chappel doesn't see her life as bifurcated. To her, the various paths she's taken lead one place.
"When I was at Santa Clara as a professor, I'd have this long line of students who wanted to talk to me, always asking me 'What should I do with my life? Where should I go to graduate school?'"
While parents and other professors offered specific advice, Chappel went with an approach that would seem obvious to lots of folks in Santa Cruz, but was a revelation among the high-achieving subset of college students at Santa Clara University.
"I told them, 'Just follow your heart.' And they would always look so relieved."
Chappel's following her own heart has led her most recently to record a song and create a video called "You're An Original," which she is dedicating to Santa Cruz "" the video can be seen on YouTube. The song features a few references that Santa Cruzans will recognize and the video features a couple of faces of prominent locals, most notably Gourd Music founder and director Neal Hellman, to whom the song was originally written and dedicated.
The video is Chappel's way to declare that her solidarity with the ephemeral spirit of self-invention that is part of the air in Santa Cruz.
"I lived overseas a couple of times," she said. "I keep leaving, but I keep coming back. And every time I come back, I think there's nothing here so special. It's not that pretty. People here aren't that great. Then, I fall in love with it over and over again. So, I'm stuck here forever."
In the video of "You're An Original," various characters are milling about with signs around their necks. On the signs are the various societal and family roles that, Chappel contends, people carry around with them that hamper them from finding happiness "" roles such as "invisible girl" and "black sheep."
Link for "You're an Original": www.youtube.com/watch?v=nV0kMbLT3bU
For years, the sign around Chappel's neck was "smart girl," a role she fulfilled at the expense of her desire to become a musician. It was while counseling students at Santa Clara that it occurred to her that "follow your heart" was something she preached, but didn't practice.
"One day, I thought, 'Uh oh. I'm not following my own advice here.' I'd been loving music since I was a little kid but I just never took it seriously because I was very smart and everyone was encouraging me to go to Ivy League schools and get the degrees and be a professor."
It was at that point, in the early 1990s, that Chappel broke out of her mold and, while maintaining her academic career, she embarked on a career as a singer/songwriter.
As a child, she was accomplished at school, but nursed a secret love of performing music. "I secretly played the piano. I don't know how I knew how to play. Everybody but my family noticed that I could sing and play, but they just didn't see that in me."
The love for music was set aside. Chappel earned a bachelor's degree from Georgetown and a doctorate from Princeton in the field of psychology that dealt with memory, perception, language and problem solving. The musical inclination didn't surface until Chappel was in her mid-20s and pursuing her Ph.D.
"I was at Princeton and engaged at the time. We broke it off. I was very depressed and I needed to do something besides write my dissertation to make me happy. I've got this stupid guitar that I drag around all the time. So I signed up for this after-school community guitar class, secretly hoping that I would meet a man.
"And I walk in the first day, and the room was full of nuns."
The nuns gave her what she had never gotten before, external validation for her talent at singing. She started writing songs, partly as a way to deal with the stress of her job.
Later, working in Santa Clara, Chappel started a band and began to playing gigs and recording her songs. A marriage to a native South African followed and Chappel moved to South Africa with her new husband and not only received a measure of career success as a singer/songwriter, but saw a metaphor for change play out before her eyes in the tumultuous days when South Africa moved from apartheid to the election of Nelson Mandela as president.
She signed with Polygram and began hearing her songs played on the radio in South Africa. While her fame increased, the country was going through political turmoil.
"I was touring the country, going to different radio stations, talking to DJs. And their whole country was changing before my eyes."
Her husband insisted she leave the country just prior to Election Day in the belief that the country might slide into civil war. "My music career was happening. So I was watching it transform at the same time I'm watching this country transform."
The South Africa experience taught Chappel that radical change "" even from a system of belief that looks so deeply entrenched as apartheid "" could happen and happen quickly. She took that to heart on an individual level and began leading workshops for people looking for their own personal transformation.
She has used her personal story and her academic training to help people find the source of their personal fulfillment. Today, Chappel is planning for the release of her latest CD and is trying to get "You're An Original" a higher profile. She's taking time off from her academic career and her consulting work to concentrate on her music. And she's also leading workshops to help people make changes in their lives.
"You teach what you need to learn, I think. I know it because teaching it helps me to remember it. I see people following all the 'shoulds' and they're not fulfilled, they're not happy and they're not using their creativity. "
And it's in Santa Cruz where she feels the people are most open to making the courage choices that leads to the pursuit of happiness.
"People here in Santa Cruz are giving themselves permission to be who they are."
Let Your Spirit Shine
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Michelle Chappel debuted her new "Shine" folk/country/pop CD in October 2007 at CSL in Seattle. She...Michelle Chappel debuted her new "Shine" folk/country/pop CD in October 2007 at CSL in Seattle. She has been singing and playing the piano since age four, but her parents never noticed her talent. Searching for approval, she excelled in school. She went on to get a Ph.D. in psychology at Princeton, playing an old guitar for comfort. Years later, as a successful college professor, she realized something was missing from her life, so she took a leap of faith, left her academic job behind, and followed her heart to become a singer/songwriter and international creativity consultant.
In her music video "You're an Original," Chappel celebrates the power of uniqueness in all of us, and her own life has been a journey to realize this truth.
Link for "You're an Original":
As a popular professor, she had eager students coming to her office asking what they should do with their lives. She always told them to follow their hearts. One day, when she realized that she wasn't following her own, Chappel gave up her career in academics and produced her first CD with PolyGram Records, which hit the charts in South Africa.
Chappel says, "Don't let fear hold you back. That's just your ego trying to keep you from growing. Let go of the past and try to see the wonder in the world every day."
Shining forth in a rainbow of affirmations, she demonstrates that we transform the world around us by transforming the world within us.
Layoffs spark public venting
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Getting laid off has long been one of life's loneliest experiences. People are singled out, strip...Getting laid off has long been one of life's loneliest experiences.
People are singled out, stripped of their professional identities and escorted out of buildings where some have spent most of their adult lives.
But watch out. As a wave of layoffs washes over the United States and beyond, some of the pink-slipped masses are going public, fighting back with satirical songs on YouTube and rapid-fire Twitter streams read 'round the globe.
"I want to help relieve tension, make people laugh and give them hope by letting them know they're not alone," said Michelle Millis, a usability consultant who wrote a song for laid-off colleagues at Yahoo and posted it on YouTube on Dec. 10, the day Yahoo axed 1,500 people, or about 10 percent of its work force.
Millis' song, a twangy off-color tirade in the style of Dolly Parton, follows two other less raunchy odes to Internet companies posted on YouTube by the France-based employees of AOL and eBay. After AOL France fired 90 of its 140 employees last year, they proceeded to gambol around their offices singing about lost love. Earlier this month, the eBay employees vamped to Jerry Herman's "I Am What I Am" and Abba's "The Dancing Queen."
In years past, Silicon Valley had a somewhat harder, more anonymous edge when it came to layoffs. In the mid-1990s the employees of Silicon Graphics set up a "bad attitude" mailing list as the iconic manufacturer of high-performance computing workstations
shed its staff.
"The Bad Attitude newsgroup was a continuation of a tradition started at SGI: It was an anything-goes forum for venting. It was a place to get things off your chest in as inappropriate and vitriolic a way as you felt like. It was for catharsis, and telling the truth without fear of reprisals," Jamie Zawinski, a legendary programmer responsible for early versions of Netscape Navigator, wrote on his personal Web page in 1998.
A few years later, disgruntled employees of imploding dot-coms took their gripes to a Web site with a name unprintable in a family newspaper, a takeoff on the magazine Fast Company, that let them vent anonymously. At its height the site was getting 4 million visitors a month, and its founder, Philip Kaplan, was being treated by the media as the spokesman for the layoffs.
But by 2008, anonymity seemed pointless. In January, Ryan Kuder, a senior marketing manager at Yahoo, became a minor celebrity after he posted deadpan updates about his termination to Twitter, a microblogging service. Overnight, the number of people following Kuder jumped from 87 to more than 400. His posts were picked up by blogs written in Chinese, Spanish, Dutch and Japanese.
Today, he's still not sure what compelled him to tell the world about the conference room named Lucy or his last free triple nonfat latte from Yahoo's Beantrees cafeteria. "It was a very lonely day," Kuder said. "Everyone was afraid to talk to each other and twittering gave me an opportunity to feel like I was talking about it with people."
Millis, who was working at Yahoo this fall under a six-month contract, wasn't laid off herself. But she got caught up in the anxiety of her co-workers after the company announced layoffs an hour before it threw a big Oktoberfest party, complete with beer, bratwurst and German chocolate cake. The celebration struck some people as insensitive, Millis said. Tension continued to build during the reorganization that preceded the December layoffs.
A professional singer-songwriter, Millis, who performs under the name Michelle Chappel, was practicing with her band in November when one of the band members asked her why she was so stressed out. "I just started making up the song on the spot," Millis said. "The bass player joined in and gave it so much energy that it just sort of got a life of its own, and practically wrote itself." The song made fun of the Internet giant's "stupid cubes" and its famously fattening cafeteria.
The song made Millis feel better and she decided to share it with Yahoo employees as they were packing up their desks and heading out the door.
Kuder also decided to reach out. He asked his new employer, a software company named Koombea, to build a site where ex-Yahoos could find one another, and more important help one another find work. He called it the "Purple People Collective." Newly launched, it already has posts for 65 job openings.
Kaplan, who went on to found AdBrite, a successful Internet advertising network, said he's had multiple requests to bring back his site but has no plans to do so. AdBrite recently had to lay off employees and Kaplan said snarky posts about collapsing companies just don't seem funny to him.
He does, however, have a project in the works to help the victims of layoffs, and he will defend people's right to vent, even if it is about him.
"I'm the ultimate example of don't dish it out if you can't take it," he said.
Yahoo declined to comment on the Millis video.
On YouTube, layoff posts get mixed receptions. When someone is perceived as seeking attention, they get flamed. In other cases, strangers offer up heartfelt encouragement.
"Hello. feel very sorry for what you are going through," went one typical response. "I have been in similar situation in the past. Good luck."
Screw You Yahoo
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"Screw You Yahoo" Says Former Consultant » Top 35 Technology Articles » Most Popular on washi..."Screw You Yahoo" Says Former Consultant
» Top 35 Technology Articles
» Most Popular on washingtonpost.com
Wednesday, December 17, 2008; 10:57 AM
Michelle Chappel, who created the video above, writes in to give us her view of the fall of Yahoo from an insiders perspective:
I have a news tip about a topic you've covered: the Yahoo layoffs.
I've been a consultant/contractor at Yahoo three different times. It's one of my favorite companies to work for¿including AltaVista, Google, TiVo, and eBay¿because the people are so nice there! Here is some background information on what it was like to be at Yahoo right before the fall, as well as a recount of my experience on "Layoff Day."
The fact that Yahoo would be having another round of layoffs was first announced at a company-wide meeting an hour before Yahoo threw a huge Oktoberfest party in which beer, bratwurst and German chocolate cake were served to everyone on campus. A week later we received sparkling wine and cupcakes to celebrate a recent Developer Network (YDN) success. Many people were curious as to why so much money was being spent on these parties, not to mention the upcoming Christmas party, because Yahoo was in such dire straights.
The layoffs were preceded by a massive re-org. Suddenly we were having lots of meetings with people we'd never worked with before. The rumor going 'round was that if you were a manager with fewer than 5 reports, you'd either be demoted, or fired. One woman who lost all her reports packed up her desk weeks in advance of layoffs because she couldn't take the pressure anymore. She'd always seemed so sure of herself before. A couple of others told me they secretly wished they'd be let go because they were sick of all the changes at Yahoo this past year. One girlfriend admitted she was very angry about it all, and that Jerry Yang had screwed up. But most people at Yahoo stayed quiet¿ and tried to be good¿ and extra dutiful¿ to save their jobs.
Towards the end, some of us were asked to submit reports again and again, and we all knew it was so that the powers-that-be could determine who would stay and who would go. Some people just stopped working altogether because there was nothing to do. We were pretty sure folks were going to lose their jobs on December 10th because all the classrooms had been booked on that day. But at meetings right before Thanksgiving, the date "December 10th" wasn't even placed on timelines on whiteboards. It was as if nothing was going to happen, even though we all knew layoffs were inevitable. The VP of my division sent LinkedIn invites to all his reports in late November, so we figured that meant he was going to be asked to leave. But we weren't sure because he was such a stellar boss. It made no sense. It was a crazy time.
On the day Yahoo was having layoffs I recorded a music video called "S**** You Yahoo": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gn4soId0EM&fmt=22
It broke my heart to watch friends and co-workers worry about whether they'd lose their jobs. I wanted them to know they're not alone, encourage them to have hope, and maybe even make them laugh a little. The video even proposes an out-of-the-box solution to our trying economic times. I used your layoff tracker and Yahoo piece (12/10/08) for the statistics in it. (Best to watch it in HD so you can read the signs.)
I hope this background information is interesting to you, and that you enjoy the music video. This song is not just about Yahoo, it's about all companies having layoffs right now. It would be terrific if you'd consider doing a story on this to help raise people's spirits during this economic downturn.
Down But Not Out
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Faced with a wave of layoffs in the IT sector, Web users are venting their spleens online to a capti...Faced with a wave of layoffs in the IT sector, Web users are venting their spleens online to a captive audience, as Michelle Chappel discovered when she took on Yahoo.
Rather than letting the economic crisis give them the blues, some Web users have chosen country music. Michelle Chappel, a consultant at Yahoo, is one of them. She witnessed the announcement that Yahoo was to be ‘restructured’ and decided to protest the move by starring in her own country music clip “Screw you Yahoo,” which she then posted on video-sharing site YouTube.
Chappell then proceeded to send an email to the famous IT information site, Techcrunch, detailing the weeks preceding the lay-offs at Yahoo and her astonishment at the money splashed around before people were laid off. “They organised a big beer party. Everybody got wine and cakes and all that’s not even counting the Christmas party,” she wrote. Chappel then goes on to describe how the atmosphere at the company changed and the pressure staff were under.
Her message was taken up by Techcrunch and generated nearly 300 comments, the majority greeting the good mood of the song in these times of crises. Like Chappel’s song, innovative messages of economic angst have gone viral on the Web, with the Internet serving as a sort of release for workers fearing for their jobs.
One of the more cited examples is the official blog of US media giant, Gannet. It was flooded by posts from staffers saying goodbye to their friends and colleagues. The blog even provides lists of the layoffs in various cities, a dismal roll that is regularly updated. Techcrunch has set up an animation of the layoffs in the US new media sector. The latest update (Dec. 23) records 113,226 dismissals since Aug. 9.
There are other sites which monitor, on a daily basis, projects and companies on the block or in danger of vanishing from the ether. A Twitter flow has also been set up on the same principle and presents an opportunity for the disaffected – or soon-to-be disaffected – to surf the current wave of lay-offs.
Converting Crisis to Change Via Creativity
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Her melodies were hand-delivered to the Dalai Lama, and she plans to send musical mail to President ...Her melodies were hand-delivered to the Dalai Lama, and she plans to send musical mail to President Obama by the end of the year.
Two years after being voted “Most Inspirational Psychology Professor” at UC Santa Cruz in 1992, Michelle Chappel reached success overseas. Her self-titled debut album topped music charts, reaching No. 9 in South Africa. After trekking back and forth between music and teaching, in 1995 the beloved professor left UCSC to answer a personal calling and pursue a career as a singer-songwriter.
Chappel received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and taught at UCSC after leaving a teaching job at Santa Clara University. When she began teaching at UCSC, Chappel already knew music would ultimately take precedence.
“I came in to UCSC telling everybody I wanted to do music, and I was pleasantly surprised by how supportive everybody there was,” Chappel said. “A lot of students would come to my shows. That place really helped inspire me.”
Chappel played shows at various venues in Santa Cruz while teaching at UCSC, including the Catalyst Nightclub downtown. Students were very supportive of her music and she even played alongside former psychology major Vincent Charles, who was taking her physiological psychology class at the time.
“She’s really nice, her whole teaching persona matches her personality,” said Charles, who graduated in 1996. “She’s outgoing and genuine. She is really cooperative and interactive to work with and a really good singer. I played guitar a bunch and I was kind of between bands, and she mentioned she wanted to gather some musicians and do a band thing and so I was like ‘Okay, I’ll check it out.’”
Students frequently came to Chappel’s office hours for life advice, often about where to go to graduate school.
“I always said, ‘Follow your heart,’” Charles said. “I realized many other professors weren’t telling them the same thing. After I’d done that about a thousand times, I ended up just thinking, ‘Why not just follow my own advice?’ That’s probably a big part of why my music is the way it is. I want other people to follow their hearts too, and be true to themselves.”
Chappel’s lyrics speak of finding hope and persistence in the midst of thorny circumstance.
Her song “A Little Act of Kindness” was hand-delivered to the Dalai Lama and recorded on her new album “Shine.” All of the royalties for the song will be donated to efforts to free Tibet from Chinese rule.
In 2008, Chappel won a Billboard award in the Americana/Folk category for her song “No Place Like Home.” She plans to turn the award-winning song into a global message of perseverance despite economic struggle.
Chappel will release her fifth album, “Shine,” tomorrow. For the release, tonight at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall in Felton, Chappel, her band, and a group of Stanford actors will begin to shoot the first scenes of a music video for “No Place Like Home.”
The music video is based on a true story Chappel came across in San Francisco. She met a man making a documentary about a homeless man who overcame all odds and turned his life around, despite his position at the bottom of the economic ladder.
Chappel plans to base the plot of the video on the life of the homeless man and send the video as a gift to Obama when it is completed.
“The whole point is I’m trying to give people hope,” Chappel said. “The homeless man had to hit the lowest low in order to realize he should change his life around. I think that might be what’s going on in this country too. Sometimes you need to hit a crisis to figure out what you need to do to lead a better life.”
On May 31, Chappel performed live on KPig radio. She played her song “Screw You Yahoo,” which became a YouTube hit last December, receiving over 17,000 views in one day. The song is a satirical bit that laments the automatic response of many companies to turn to layoffs whenever times are hard.
“The first thing I was trying to do was make people laugh,” Chappel said. “I also wanted to raise awareness, because we have had this bad reaction to the bad economy, which is to lay people off, and I don’t think that’s the best solution. I’m not saying I have a better solution, but layoffs are really hard on people. They really hurt people and their self esteem.”
Christian Rorher worked with Chappel when she was a researcher for Yahoo. He has since left the company and now works as the head of a design team for real estate internet sites.
“I can certainly identify with the sentiment of the ‘Screw You Yahoo’ song,” Rorher said. “One thing that that really impressed me about working with Chappel was [the] multidimensionality of her personality. She is very creative and also has a sharp research mind.”
Chappel has a feeling her music video message will reach the president, she said, and she hopes it will reach many others as well.
“I hope I can make a difference. I’m trying to make a difference,” Chappel said. “I’m trying to be my true self, and I’m trying to make a difference.”
Chappel plays at Don Quixote’s International Music Hall tonight (June 4th) at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door.
Michelle Chappel's musical mission
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It's an uncommon career switch, to be sure. Michelle Chappel went from a Princeton-educated doctoral...It's an uncommon career switch, to be sure. Michelle Chappel went from a Princeton-educated doctoral professor at UC Santa Cruz to a tireless singer/songwriter, but she hasn't looked back.
Tonight, Chappel and her band play Don Quixote's in Felton in a belated CD release party for her 2008 disc "Shine." Since the release of that disc, she's amassed a few more new songs and a Billboard Award for one of those songs, an Americana ballad called "No Place Like Home."
In leading creativity workshops as a parallel to her singing career, Chappel unabashedly pushes a strong follow-your-heart message in just about everything she does, including "Place," a sign-of-the-times song about surviving hardship.
"The song is all about a call to action," said Chappel. "It's about how we all have to look out for each other, extend a hand when it's needed."
Chappel draws a line between her concerts and her workshops. The latter is to help people get out of their life ruts and find the energy and imagination to re-invent themselves. The former is all about entertainment. But the line isn't always obvious.
"At my concerts, I'll often ask the audience Does anyone out there have a dream?' and in that way, I guess, it's like the workshops. But I'm not there to hit them over the head with all the self-actualization stuff."
Chappel's music is often rollicking and upbeat and meant to serve as a kind of shot in the arm to her listeners.
"I think of my songs
sometimes as Trojan horses," she said. "There are good messages in there. But they're part of song that's really hooky, and you can enjoy them only on that hooky level if you choose, but the message is still there."
Much of Chappel's music is available on YouTube -- she's got her own channel, even. It's all part of her Herculean effort to kick-start people's own ingenuity to make their lives better.
"You're an Original," for instance, was a song originally dedicated to her friend, the Santa Cruz musician and music label manager Neal Hellman. But it was expanded to salute the spirit of Santa Cruz.
Her creativity workshops, she said, are her effort to help people find their own inner voice. "People don't usually come to the workshops until some kind of crisis has interrupted their lives -- they've lost their job, there's a divorce, or a health issue. Life's off-track in some way. And I'm really seeing a parallel now between the students in my workshops and what the country is going through. And message is that you can make it. And I believe that we can make it."
The Chappel Show: Former UCSC psych prof Michelle Chappel parlays her personal coaching work into songs.
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THE WORDS kept elbowing their way to the front of her mind, so at practice that afternoon Michelle C...THE WORDS kept elbowing their way to the front of her mind, so at practice that afternoon Michelle Chappel let the band in on the joke: a song that seemed to be writing itself with the refrain "Screw you, Yahoo." It was December 2008, and the company was on its third round of layoffs for the year. Though Chappel's position as a usability consultant insulated her from the dreaded pink slip, her teammates enjoyed no such guarantees, and it bothered her.
"I was surrounded by people who were freaking out. I absorbed all their tension, and I felt so bad for them I tried to figure out how I could relieve their tension."
The result was a jaunty, cornball acoustic number on how bad it feels to be laid off and think it's your fault when it's not. An accompanying video posted to YouTube featuring the diminutive Chappel showing flashcards with key words from the song became an instant hit around the office and a brief Internet sensation, garnering 17,000 viewers on its peak day.
"I think the video's more relevant now than it was then," Chappel says. "There's research that shows being laid off really hurts your health. It's not good for you at all, and people do it so easily--it's such a regular way of coping with business problems. I was saying, 'Isn't there a better way to do this?'"
All of it--the creative impulse, the concern for others, the agency to act on that concern--is par for the course for Chappel, a Princeton-trained psychology professor who left a secure job teaching at UCSC when she realized she'd outgrown the role that set her on the path to academia. With that leap, she embarked on a musical career and started coaching--"usually people in transition"--to help them shake off outmoded behaviors.
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"We come into the world, we're brought into our family and we take on these roles, and it may not be who we are, but it works at the time," she says. "And then we go to school and we're rewarded for repeating what the teacher says. We're rewarded for following, and slowly over time we lose pieces of our true self. My whole mission is to help people get back to that place."
That mission is amply evident in her music, a country-pop amalgam built around Chappel's surprisingly powerful, expressive alto. Many of her songs contain messages of uplift, and while lyrics like "Shine/ Let your spirit come through/ Shine/ Just be real" aren't everyone's cup of tea, they are undoubtedly the work of a brave original. The new release Shine, her fifth CD, includes "You Can Make It," about escaping an abusive relationship, as well as a cover of "Me and Bobby McGee." Without question, Chappel has a plan.
"I'm kind of hoping I can help people make little breakthroughs and not even notice that it's happening," she says.
MICHELLE CHAPPEL's CD release party for 'Shine' is Thursday, June 4, at 7:30pm at Don Quixote's, 6275 Hwy. 9, Felton. Tickets are $8 advance/$10 at the door. (831.603.2294)
Musician Follows Her Heart: Fromer Professor Uses Music to Speak Out and Give Hope
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The state of the economy has become an unspoken discouragement: the unemployment rates, the health c...The state of the economy has become an unspoken discouragement: the unemployment rates, the health care issues and the case of what should be a meager upcoming holiday season.
It affects all of us -- like being a loyal fan of a losing team. Relatability seems to be all that we have to hold onto.
Folk music has always been a beacon of hope for the troubled, with poets like Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen echoing the tribulations of a wretched generation.
There are some folk artists continuing that mission to speak for the people and send out a message of hope to an economically derailed society.
Michelle Chappel, a former Santa Clara University psychology professor, has been looking to do just that since she swapped her classroom for a studio back in 1995. Since then Chappel has put out five albums, and with her latest release, "Shine," she has finally gained the exposure she set out to achieve over ten years ago.
Last December, Chappel hit a break on YouTube with her controversial music video, "Screw You Yahoo," a fun jab at corporate layoffs. She mentioned that the video pays homage to Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues" video directed by Martin Scorsese.
"I studied (Dylan's video) very carefully to see how he did it, because Weird Al Yankovic did a spoof of it but he totally messed up with the cards, so I really did my homework to get it right," said Chappel of the video.
Chappel's success with that video, which landed 17,000 views in one day, propelled her to eventually win a Billboard Award in Americana/Folk for her newest single, "No Place Like Home."
"(The video) features the theme of helping each other and hanging together during these hard times," said Chappel of the new single, which shares a theme with the rest of the songs featured on "Shine." Chappel even plans to send the music video for "No Place Like Home" directly to President Obama in the near future.
Another theme she felt very adamant about was following your heart -- a motto that was the reasoning behind her departure from teaching to music.
"I had an engineering student that took a psychology class from me, and he said that his dad wants him to go into engineering because he won't make any money as a psychologist," said Chappel. "I could tell that he really loved psychology, so I told him to follow his heart, and he ended up doing very well in his life because of it." Chappel eventually decided to follow her own advice, continuing to provide a voice for people looking for some hope and relief through her music.
"People like Dylan and Joni Mitchell were making social statements or political statements about themselves in a very psychological way with acoustic guitar," Chappel said of her musical influences. "They were able to reach a lot of people, and I'm trying to bring that back." On Nov. 14, Chappel will bring back the folk to Santa Clara, performing at Mission City Coffee at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5.
"A lot of students seem to like this music. I've got a killer band. My stand up bass player is a student at Berkeley and he digs it," assured Chappel.
"It's been a lot of fun being a musician. It's been an interesting way to help people, and it seems like it's been working," said Chappel. "I get e-mails from people saying how my music has changed their lives in some way which is very meaningful."
Chappel has two one hour sets that include tracks from her 6 CDs and a couple of covers (e.g., Bobby McGee) in her own style.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.