Michelle Owen
Gig Seeker Pro

Michelle Owen

Oakville, Ontario, Canada | SELF

Oakville, Ontario, Canada | SELF
Band Pop Adult Contemporary




"Stage Door"

“Michelle Owen’s debut features some spot-on performances, the production is flawless and she has a pitch perfect voice.” - Stage Door

"Tandem Magazine"

“Owen’s compositions dig deep emotionally.” - Tandem Magazine

"Yorkton This Week"

“…she may soon be pushing her way into a listing of top Canadian female vocalists… Impressive indeed.” - Yorkton This Week

"MINDS EYE/Nanaimo, BC"

“Michelle Owen is a breath of fresh air. When she sings, it’s as if you can see into her creative process and into her heart.… Her songs are vastly empowering.” - MINDS EYE

"Tom Harrison/Vancouver Sun"

“Her record has the ghostly haunt of Lesley Gore (who is still alive) or some early 60s girl group or a 70s soul singer. …Owen has a bright, lively approach that is likable.”

- Vancouver Sun


Michelle Owen (2011)



The phrase "wise beyond her years" could have been coined with Michelle Owen in mind. She is just 18, but this Toronto-based singer/songwriter should certainly not be lumped into the category of teen popster. On her dazzlingly accomplished self-titled debut album, Michelle exhibits a lyrical and musical maturity far beyond the reach of most of her peers.

She may be soft-spoken in person, but don't let that fool you. Michelle possesses steely conviction and true grit when it comes to her music. She was determined to make her record the old-fashioned way, using real horns and strings. This brings a warmth and richness to the sound that cannot be duplicated by synthesized subsitutes. Owen recalls that "My producer, Doug Romanow, told me 'we can can either do this as a very basic album, built around guitar and piano, or else we can take it to the next level. Have it all and have it sound 10 times better.' I think it really made the songs what they are. A lot of music on the radio now is very generic and computer-generated. The instruments are very important to me. Here it is just a real band, nothing else. You don't see that so much these days with younger artists."

Romanow explains that "I loved the immediacy and freshness of Michelle's vocal performances. These songs came from Michelle sitting at the piano, writing, and I wanted the music to always respect the space where the vocal lives."

This acclaimed Juno-nominated producer (Michael Pickett, Erin Haley) has access to Toronto's best players, and he came up with a real A list of instrumentalists to add their magic to Michelle Owen. Guitar aces featured are Tony Lind, Sean Ashby and Russell Broom, with the latter two being known for their work with, respectively, Sarah MacLachlan and Jann Arden. Drummers Davide Direnzo and Lyle Molzan have laid down the groove for artists as varied as Jacksoul, The Art of Time Ensemble, and - Molzan will check his credits, while bassist Marc Rogers has worked with Holly Cole and The Philosopher Kings. The multi-talented Romanow contributes piano, B3 organ, and keyboards, as well as horn and string arrangements. The string section is led by virtuoso violinist Lenny Solomon, the man behind the Bowfire phenomenon, while the horn section comprises trumpeter David Dunlop (NOJO, The Boss Brass) and trombonist Gord Myers (Michael Kaeshammer).

The album was recorded, co-engineered, and mixed by Romanow at his Fire Escape Recording studio. Sessions took place over a lengthy period, given that Michelle had to juggle her schedule around her studies (she is now taking social sciences at the University of Toronto). This turned out to be of real benefit, as she explains. "It helped me absorb things. I had experiences during the making of it and I also learned a lot from Doug during the recording process, and that made me better as a writer."

Recording involved three separate stages. Once Owen and Romanow had finished a song, Michelle would sing a rough track of it in the booth, with Doug laying down a piano part. The instrumentalists would flesh out the tune, then Michelle would return to lay down the finished vocals. "Performing a song with the full band behind it made me feel far more energetic about the song," she explains.

That is certainly audible on the finished album. The first track to be taken to AC radio is "Fire," an infectious tune featuring a fittingly fiery vocal performance from Michelle. "I came up with the melody first and was very excited about it 'cos it is really upbeat and fun to sing," she says. Songs like "Heartbeat," "Running Away," and "Rise Up" have a full-blooded soulful vibe that showcase Michelle's strong and passionate voice, while she is equally convincing on the powerful piano and strings-driven ballad "Who Made It So" and the haunting opening cut, "Searching For The Moon."

All the songs on the album are original Owen compositions (Romanow added some co-writing assists), and they dig deep emotionally. "Every song is something that happened in my life or that I saw happen to someone I know," she says. "Personal events give me the inspiration to write a song. If I'm down about something or upset and can't do anything about it, I can put it in a song and it makes me feel better about it. Or if I'm feeling happy about something, and don't know how to express it, I write a song. Sometimes I'll sit at the piano [Owen is a skilled pianist], play around on the keys and I may find something cool." Michelle explores a wide range of emotions and themes in her writing. "I didn't want the album to be 10 songs about being sad over a boy," she explains. "I wanted a song for 10 different things people can experience and relate to."

Owen wrote her first song at 13, and has been honing her craft ever since. Not even her parents and close friends knew just how seriously she was committed to songwriting. "I just did it for myself, and I kept it fairly quiet," she says. "Songwriting was an emotional