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Softening to Life: Chrisette Michele

In this interview with Chrisette Michele, the focus is on topics such as spirituality, healing, positivity, and self-love. Chrisette shares her personal experiences and perspectives on these subjects, emphasizing the importance of finding peace within oneself, acknowledging the challenges of the world, and embracing radical acceptance. She also discusses the concept of toxic positivity and the need to balance it with acknowledging and addressing difficult situations. Throughout the conversation, Chrisette highlights the significance of self-love and shares her own practices, such as affirmations and self-compassion, that contribute to her journey of healing.
Shronda Armstrong: I wanted to dive in and get some information regarding this upcoming tour. It sounds like it's going to be something really special and different, so I just wanted to hear how you thought to come up with this amazing new venture?

Chrisette Michele: Sure, so we get to kind of hang out and do fun things on the road pretty much for a living. So, you kind of pay attention to what people are asking you for at the merch booth. That's kind of where it goes down. The merch booth is like the DM of touring, and so people get to ask you questions, tell you what they need, and sometimes I'm thinking to myself, "Guys, you came to a concert. This is as much as I want this to be a therapy session. We gotta go." So, this time I said, "You know what? Why don't we have the whole entire tour feel like the backstage moment, feel like that merch moment? We're up close and personal and kind of enjoying each other's company." So, this is intermittent, small. There's yoga, there's food, there's some acoustic music, and there's a live teaching/Q&A at the end.

SA: I did read about that, how you're going to have the vegan organic harvest, which I think is awesome. So, what inspired you as well, because I know you're deep into spirituality and just living a soft life, which is something that a lot of women of color are talking about right now? And I know you said that down in the merch booth, but I know it has to be a lot to decide to offer that way of life to your listeners. How important is it for you to not only cater to your listeners but to also show them a different way of life and healing?

CM: Yeah, you know, when you listen to the lyrics of so much of the music that is Chrisette Michele's, right? You kind of hear a lifestyle, but because you're singing it, you kind of don't always put two and two together. Oh, they actually do that thing. Do you know what I mean? Jill Scott woke up this morning and made her some scrambled eggs. She might actually make eggs from time to time. Um, so a lot of times there's these little innuendos that we add to the music, and as we begin to see maybe a disconnect between what society or the world kind of thinks of us versus what we're actually saying, we kind of try and figure out, okay, what's another way for me to say this? So, this is just another way for me to say things that I've been saying for a long time. Softness has always been a thing. I know it's a really cool trending topic right now, and I love the trending topic, but softness has always been a thing. Softening the heart space has always been a good idea, and so I'm just kind of magnifying that truth.

SA: That's awesome. What cities do you have in mind for your tour?

CM: Yeah, so we're going to 13 cities. It'll be Chicago, Detroit, Brooklyn, Houston, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Charlotte, Philadelphia. See, who did I miss? I think there's one or two more that I didn't have on the top of my head, but yeah, there'll be 13. You can find out what cities we'll be at thesoftlifecircle.com. So, tickets are up now at thesoftlifecircle.com.

SA: Okay, awesome! I want to ask you about your musical journey. I know you've been out for quite some time. How do you think your style has changed over this time frame? What do you think you've picked up? Because I know we all progress with time, so would you say your musical style has progressed over the years? And if so, how would you describe it now, as opposed to when you first started out?

CM: Sure, this next album and these next singles will definitely have more of an Americana/soul feel. My voice had soulful music, and I've always sung R&B, also. But the soulful sound will take front and center. So songs from my past, like "Best of Me," "Love Is You," or "Your Joy" about my father and myself, the music takes on that kind of a feel, rather than maybe like the "Couple Of Forevers" and "If I Have My Way." So I've always had a very wide span of sounds, and so this time around, I'm streamlining it to my singer-songwriter style, if you will.


SA: So, I know with your past albums, the titles were very powerful, "I Am Better," "Epiphany." I feel like that could be maybe you were giving us some hints too of things that may have been going on in your life as well. If you had to describe this new chapter of your life, like I said, very powerful, "I Am Better," "Epiphany," how would you describe the journey that you're on now?

CM: I'm thinking about how those albums were named versus how this album is named. But this particular, these particular titles and songs and entitled tracks and this particular era of who I am, is one who's softened to life. Life can be really tough. It can throw you lots of different blows, and I hear people say that a lot, and I experience life, but I don't experience it from a "that was hard" space. I experience it more from a "that's interesting" space. And so, to me, that's what softness is. It's everything doesn't have to be labeled in order to be understood. Sometimes you can just watch, you can learn, you don't have to evaluate everything. So, when things are really ugly or rough, give it a second. Softness is about giving those moments another minute before you decide what life is. Otherwise, we'll be responding in a fear-based space. We'll be responding in a fear-based mind.

So, the soft life circle and in this whole just moment for me is about kind of letting people know how I processed my life. I heard a lot of people tell me how they would process my life and what they would have done if and how they would have handled this, this, and this. And a lot of hearing that kind of made me feel like, okay, maybe I'm weird, maybe I should act a little bit more angry or act a little bit more indignant or disenfranchised, but really, I was just listening. So, this is the first time in my life where I'm going to say that I'm going to say how I really feel, how I really felt, and why I'm okay.

SA: So my final question, I do want to ask you something that's really important to me, it is self-love. Obviously, we've had this conversation this whole time, everything we've touched on relates to self-love and loving ourselves, loving ourselves in the moment, knowing that we're enough, loving ourselves no matter what the circumstances are. So, how would you define self-love, and what role has it played in this amazing journey of healing that you're on right now?

You know, I do this thing where I put one hand on my heart and one hand on my belly whenever life freaks me out and tells me I don't deserve good things. And I just look at the thing and I agree that I deserved it and take a deep breath in and I exhale. And then I look at the kid, the kid in me that may have gone through something traumatic that just felt like she didn't deserve what I have now, and I tell her that she's okay and that she deserves it too. That's one of my little latest things that I do, is just, "I deserve that delicious veggie burger." And then I might look at the little kid and say, "I know you were a chubby kid in school and you got made fun of. You're okay now, you made it. Enjoy your cheeseburger," you know? Like, just I take little moments like that all the time, and I just feel this overwhelming sense of guilt or shame. Like, it's okay, you can have it."

(C) 2023-- S. Armstrong

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