Off-Broadway jazz vocalist Miche Braden performs in Vail
VAIL – The Vail Jazz Festival presents the seventh in its popular Jazz at Vail Square series on Thursday, featuring blues vocalist Miche Braden and The Ken Walker Quartet. The partially ticketed and partially free concert gets underway at 6 p.m. at The Arrabelle in Lionshead.Miche (pronounced “Mickey”) Braden founded a Detroit-based all-female jazz band and was a protege of several noted Motown musicians before starring in the off-Broadway hit show “The Devil’s Music: The Life & Blues of Bessie Smith.” The show earned rave reviews in New York and was voted one of the Daily News’ Top 10 Off-Broadway Shows. A gifted artist, Braden is also a singer-songwriter, arranger and musical director. Braden is joined on stage by Denver’s noted bassist Ken Walker and his quartet, which features Jeff Jenkins on piano, Chris Lee on drums and Rich Chiaraluce on saxophone. Miche Braden recently answered a few questions for the Vail Daily about her career:Vail Daily: Do you consider Bessie Smith a major influence on your own musical career?Miche Braden: Now I do. After studying her life on and off stage, the things she did with her talent – basically owning herself – is exactly how I want to live; in charge of my creativity and moving up in my career. VD: What do you enjoy most about performing live? MB: The interaction with the audience, the different personalities each audience has that fuel my performance, the adrenaline rush of singing, acting, performing – that feels better than anything!VD: How do you choose your song list for each live performance? MB: I have some favorites that tend to make it in most shows. But this concert was based on my blues personas of Bessie Smith and songs done on James Carter’s last CD. I really try to entertain myself first. If I can do that, it is almost sure to please my audience because I’m enjoying the performance. It might sound a little self-centered, but an audience isn’t dumb. They can tell when an artist is living their music or just singing. VD: What is the origin of your name, Miche?MB: My mother told me when she was young she wanted people to call her “Mickey” but no one did, so when I was born, she made it my nickname. The spelling came from a high school friend when we were writing poetry. She spelled my name M-i-c-h-e and I liked it. VD: When did you know you wanted to become a professional performer?MB: When I was born. I’ve never wanted to do anything else. VD: What was your first real “break” in the entertainment industry? MB: Break? Hahahahahahahaha! Still waiting for it! I do a lot of things. In some ways it is both a blessing and not. I’ll be gigging at a club, scoring a musical and playing the lead, or conducting in the pit, teaching high school kids the art of performing, doing a jazz festival with Twin James Carter, reading a script, designing and sewing outfits for me and my dogs, and that’s all in this past week. I don’t sit still long enough for the “break” to come. Plus it scares folks that I put so many people out of work. VD: What can the Vail audience expect to see at your performance?MB: Me having fun. VD: Explain what it was like portraying Bessie Smith off Broadway?MB: A-MA-ZING! OK, so running a year off broadway was a big break. Ringing the Nasdaq bell, opening the Drama Desk awards, four major nominations, great reviews, meeting the great stars and plotting my takeover of broadway. Just from singing and acting my ass off. It got too hard to tell when Bessie ended and Ms. Miche began. VD: Where do most of the lyrics come from on your original songs?MB: Dreams. Conversations. Beauty. Anger. Comedy. Tears. In other words – life. VD: How many weeks each year are you on the road? MB: This past year has been my absolute busiest. I’ve been on the road every week. Honestly, I never have to come off the road. Performing/creating is life to me. Oh, and my rat terriers Rocky Dog & Xena May. PeaceMs. Miche
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