Musique Noire

Musique Noire

 Detroit, Michigan, USA

Musique Noire is a women-led strings and percussion ensemble performing dynamic world fusion music. The members, residing in Detroit and Chicago, are veteran performers nationally and internationally. Releases include "Good Hair" (2008), "Holiday Dreams: A Celebration of Christmas" (2011) and "Reflections: We Breathe" (2017).


Band leader/violinist/flutist Michelle May (Detroit, MI) found herself playing in a variety of ensembles (classical, jazz, r&b, gospel and even a house music band), but not feeling totally fulfilled in any of them. She felt it was time to take her musical life in another direction. Enter, Musique Noire (French for "Black Music"). Michelle found a few like-minded, seasoned musicians from the Detroit area, who felt like she did--tired of always making someone *else's* vision a reality and ready to let the world hear what they had to offer. Putting together a band wasn't easy, especially with the instrumentation assembled: violin, viola, percussion, guitar and bass. After going through a couple of personnel changes, Michelle was finally able to put together a group that works well together musically and personally.

Musique Noire was nominated in 2018 by the Detroit Music Awards as "Outstanding World Artist/Group" and "Outstanding World Recording". The ensemble also received the same nominations in 2011, 2010 and 2009.  Musique Noire was also awarded "Best Black Female Band of the Year" at the 2015 Black Women in Jazz and the Arts Awards in Atlanta, GA.  The ensemble were 2018 TEDx performers.

Musique Noire's four main members are working musicians and passionate music educators.

Michelle May (Detroit, MI) has been a performer, educator, writer and producer for over 35 years. She is a 2018 Kresge Artist Fellow (Detroit, MI).  She has performed live and in studio with such nationally renowned performers as drummer/percussionist Francisco Mora Catlett, Aretha Franklin, KEM, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, Richard Smallwood, Marcus Belgrave, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Natalie Cole, and the late greats Donald Walden, Barry White, Joe Williams and Dizzy Gillespie, among many others. Michelle holds a B.A. in Education and Music, an M.A. in Counseling (her "other" profession!) and a Certificate in Recording Technology.

Jovia Armstrong (Chicago, IL), educator and songwriter, is one of the most sought-after performers in the Midwest. She is a 2011 3Arts Siragusa Foundation (Chicago, IL) Artist awardee. Jovia studied percussion at Michigan State University before relocating to Chicago where she earned a B.A. in Music Business from Columbia College. In addition to her work as performer, writer and producer with Musique Noire, Jovia has performed with such national and international artists as El Debarge, Amp Fiddler, Nicole Mitchell, JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound, the Chris Green Quartet, British artist Omar, Alison Crockett, Maysa, Eric Robeson, Rashaan Patterson, Frank McComb, Trey Anastacio, Brian O'Neal (keyboardist for Kem) as well as numerous Jazz and Latin festivals. She is known for her creative technique, stage presence and melodic approach and is versed in the styles of jazz, Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban, African, gospel and R&B. JoVia is currently a PhD student in the University of California Irvine's Integrated Composition, Improvisation and Technology Program.

Leslie DeShazor Adams (Detroit, MI) is a graduate of the University of Michigan School of Music where she received a B.M. in viola performance. While her training is primarily in classical music she can be heard or seen in an array of venues. Jazz, gospel, rhythm and blues, traditional West African music, classical and rock are some of the many influences you will hear in her playing and writing. She has worked with such artists as: KEM, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Three Mo’ Tenors, and many more.

Leah Lucas (Detroit, MI) has been described by critics as a player that “possesses a major talent as well as a sunny, room-filling personality” (The Santa Barbara Independent). In addition to her work with Musique Noire, Leah performs as a soloist, an orchestral musician and a performer of contemporary music in a variety of genres, including premiering a work written for her by composer Timothy Beutler entitled Pursuit of Truth: For Solo Viola and Tape. She also served as violinist and vocalist in Danssair, a popular Irish band local to Santa Barbara. Originally from Illinois, Ms. Lucas graduated from the Chicago College of Performing Arts Music Conservatory and continued her graduate studies at the University of California Santa Barbara. She has performed with numerous national and international artists.


"Good Hair" released independently in October 2008, nominated for "Outstanding Jazz Recording" at the 2009 Detroit Music Awards and received airplay at over 50 college and NPR stations nationally. "Holiday Dreams: A Celebration of Christmas" released in 2011.  Newest release, "Reflections:  We Breathe" released 2017.

Set List

Sets emphasize our original music (world fusion) and include some arrangements of jazz standards. Sets typically run 45 to 90 minutes. Can do two hours with a 15 minute intermission.