J'ai Michel was called Sweet Baby by her mother. Surrounded by music by Miles, Bird, Ella or Billie on albums her father played, J'ai grew up in Kansas City, home of Big Joe Turner, Charlie “Bird” Parker and Count Basie. At 5, she was composing and by 8, sneaking in clubs on 18th and Vine to watch her father play jazz. Her uncle, Vernon Gower was a bassist with Billie Holiday and Lionel Hampton and her cousin Michael Howell was the guitarist with Dizzy Gillespie. At 10, she studied classical piano and switched to violin at 12. J'ai played bass in high school, guitar in college. In Louisiana, she sang with a back porch band, playing washboard, spoons, tubs, and combs, in jug or Zydeco music. Her mentor was Phil Moore. She worked with Teddy Edwards (sax), pianist Nate Morgan, guitarist Ronald Muldrow and drummer Sherman Ferguson. She's been on radio and TV, performed in the U.S., Europe and Asia and was featured at concert halls, festivals, clubs and benefits, from the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Ford Amphitheater to Tokyo Concert Hall and Casablanca's Super Dome. Awards include “Best Entertainer”, “Pick of the Week” and “Pick of the Month”. She's been onstage with Melissa Etheridge, Herbie Hancock, Etta James, Jill Scott, Joe Sample, Tom Waits, Koko Taylor, Patrice Rushen, Sheila E., Tramaine Hawkins, Stanley Turrentine, Nel Carter and Eddie Harris. CDs: “The Art of Blue” (1997), “Evolution” (2003) featuring pianist Nate Morgan and saxophonist Teddy Edwards; “Jazz Baby” (2005) with Janis Siegel, Freddie Cole, and Rosemary Clooney on a children’s compilation jazz album. “Prove It On Me” (2008) is soundtrack from Dee Jae Cox’s play in which J’ai starred. “Introducing J’ai Michel” (2008) was produced by Jane Getz and Grammy winner, Bob Tucker, is a mix of R&B, pop, jazz, rock and blues with spoken word! It features percussionist Perico Hernandez, and world-class musicians. www.sweetbabyjai.com
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