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) and "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 has been nominated for the 2011 Detroit Music Awards as "Outstanding World Artist/Group". The ensemble also received the same nomination in 2010 and three nominations in 2009, including "Outstanding Jazz Recording" for their debut release, "Good Hair".  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.

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

Michelle May was born into a family of musicians and artists. She began piano studies with her mother, Mary Walton, at age five. At age seven she began violin studies and added flute studies at age 9. Michelle has performed live and in studio behind 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, to name a few. Michelle holds a B.A. in Education, an M.A. in Counseling (her "other" profession!) and a Certificate in Recording Technology.

Jovia Armstrong (Chicago, IL), educator and songwriter, is quickly becoming 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 with Musique Noire, Jovia has performed with such national and international artists as El Debarge, Amp Fiddler, Nicole Mitchell, 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.

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. Leslie began playing the viola at the age of ten and has been playing for over 20 years. 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. 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). 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.


"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.