Michelle Wright Biography
Last updated: 10/25/2007 12:00:00 PM
Michelle Wright is one of the most-awarded artists in Canadian country music history. She has over 30 major music industry awards to her credit and a string of 23 Top Ten hits on Canadian country radio, including seven Number One singles. The first Canadian-born artist in the modern era of country music to have a Top Ten hit in America (Take It Like A Man, 1992), to have a Number One video on CMT (Take It Like a Man, 1992), and to win a major U.S. music industry award (Academy of Country Music Top New Female Artist, 1993), Michelle has been drawing rave reviews for her expressive voice and distinctive style since her 1990 self-titled debut album for Arista/Nashville. Now Michelle celebrates a decade of hit-making with her newest offering, her first "best-of" compilation entitled (in America) MICHELLE WRIGHT: GREATEST HITS (and in Canada, MICHELLE WRIGHT: THE GREATEST HITS COLLECTION).
Growing up in Merlin, Ontario, a small Canadian farming community, Michelle heard the rhythm & blues and Motown hits coming out of Detroit, just 45 minutes away. But especially she heard the strains of country music, since Michelle's parents were both country performers. "My earliest memories of music are singing in the car, or spending the weekend with my father after my parents separated and watching him put on a rhinestone-studded suit to perform in." As a young girl, she tagged along on countless jobs. "We never were a family band, but I got a lot of inspiration and encouragement from my mother. That's where my love of country music really began." After a year of college studying counseling for the mentally disadvantaged, Michelle set off to tour North America, and by 1988, she had released an album in Canada, DO RIGHT BY ME, on Savannah Records.
Signing with Arista/Nashville in 1990 as one of its flagship artists, Michelle released her first U.S. album, MICHELLE WRIGHT, that same year. In 1992, she released NOW & THEN, which spawned the Top Ten hit and Number One video at CMT, Take It Like A Man. In 1994, Michelle made an unprecedented move by releasing an album exclusively to her Canadian fans ?validation that she had not forgotten her background. THE REASONS WHY generated an incredible amount of enthusiasm, enabling Michelle to headline a 40-city Canadian concert tour during the first three months of 1995 and to act as host for the 1995 Canadian Country Music Awards. She capped off that evening in winning style when she received her second CCMA Fan's Choice Entertainer of the Year trophy.
In 1996, Michelle released her third Arista/Nashville project, FOR ME IT'S YOU. Perhaps her most personal album, it served as a reminder of her relationship with her fans. "For me it is them, because when I get on that stage every night, no matter what's going on in my world, the audience makes me feel like, for right now, I'm okay, for right now, I'm full of joy." This album also marked the first time one of Michelle's own songs was available to her American fans, the stirring What Love Looks Like.
Michelle started to explore her diverse talents and broke new ground along the way. After co-hosting the TNN/Music City News Awards show in 1994, and hosting the CCMA Awards in 1995, her ease in front of the camera led her to a guest appearance on the syndicated series, "Due South." In 1997, she became the first artist to appear on the cover of the Sears catalog in Canada. Later that year at the CCMAs she delivered a show-stopping gospel-tinged rendition of the Curtis Mayfield hit, People Get Ready, accompanied by a 40-voice choir. A personal career highlight for Michelle, she reflects, "I still get goose bumps whenever I hear that version."
Recently, Michelle had the opportunity to participate in a history-making project when veteran record producer Michael Blakey invited her to lend her voice to volume one of the PATSY CLINE DUETS. The album features both legendary and new talent teamed with Cline on some of her most memorable songs. Produced by weaving the contemporary voices into the classic Cline recordings, Michelle duets with Cline on the classic, Walkin' After Midnight. This opportunity continued an association with Cline that began in 1993 when she read letters Patsy had composed on camera in "Remembering Patsy," the A&E television special commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of Cline's death.
1998 found Michelle collaborating with pianist Jim Brickman, performing the hit Your Love for release in Canada. The video topped the CMT Canada charts and the CCMA named the single its Vocal/Instrumental Collaboration of the Year. The success of Your Love did not go unnoticed by Brickman's label, Los Angeles-based Windham Hill Records. The collaboration has been included on Brickman's latest CD, DESTINY, and was released to U.S. adult contemporary radio in October, 1999, becoming a Top Twenty record. Your Love is included on Michelle's new greatest hits project and has been released to country radio as well.
From her professional beginnings as a teenager, right up to the present day, Michelle has steadily grown into an entertainer of the highest rank. Wright is proud of the achievement her newest album represents. "It feels great to be at this point in my career. Very early on, when I first hit the road with a bunch of guys, crisscrossing the country in an old van, sleeping in the back on top of a couple of guitar amps, I could only dream about having enough hits to make a greatest hits package. And now, here we are." But the collection is not simply a measure of dreams fulfilled for Michelle: it also chronicles her growth as an artist. "When I listen to the album from start to finish, I can hear my development as a vocalist, and I'm happy with how I've grown and how I sound today. And I'm excited by the fact that I'm writing more and more of my own material. In some ways, ironic as this may seem, it makes me feel like I'm just getting started."