R&B singer Chrisette Michele was a last-moment addition to Donald Trump‘s inauguration concert line-up. She’ll perform alongside Sam Moore, Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down and others on January 19. The Make America Great Again Inauguration Concert and Celebration is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. ET.
The 34-year-old Michele grew up on Long Island and was born in Central Islip, New York. She’s released five albums and won the 2009 Best Urban/Alternative Performance Grammy for her hit single “Be OK.” In 2014, she was nominated for a Grammy for Best R&B Album for Better.
Here’s a look at Michele’s life and career.
1. Her Management Reportedly Wanted the Trump Team to Wait a Week to Announce Her Performance for Fear of Backlash
Before the Donald Trump transition team announced that Michele would be performing at the concert, The New York Daily News reported that Michele’s management asked Trump’s team to delay adding her to the public line-up. They feared there would be a backlash, similar to the one Jennifer Holliday faced before she ultimately withdrew from the concert.
The Daily News’ sources said that the Trump team wants Michele to sing “Intentional” with Travis Greene, Jonathan McReynolds and Tye Tribbett, recreating their performance at BET’s Celebration of Gospel show. However, two of those three singers declined to perform for Trump. Michele agreed to perform, but only if she could perform her R&B songs, the Daily News reports.
Michele had to cancel a scheduled performance in Sayreville, New Jersey to perform for Trump.
2. Michele Penned an Open Letter, Telling Her Fans ‘We Can’t Be Present If We’re Silent’ & ‘My Heart Is Broken For Our Country’
Despite her team’s attempts to cut down on backlash, Michele was not immune. Questlove of The Roots even tweeted that he would pay Michele not to perform.
Michele responded to her critics with an open letter, in which she wrote, “We Can’t Be Present If We’re Silent.” She posted it on Twitter and Instagram. Here’s the text of her letter:
“My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us.
I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain.
This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us.
Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind “These Stones”, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.
I am here.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters,”. I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.” – Chrisette Michele
3. Michele Has Her Own Record Label & Clothing Line Called Rich Hipster
In 2015, Michele left Motown Records to form her own boutique label, Rich Hipster, which shares its name with the song “Rich Hipster” from her 2013 album Better. Rich Hipster releases are distributed by Capitol/Carolina Records and its first release was 2016’s Milestone. The album reached No. 73 on the Billboard 200 chart.
Also in 2015, Michele launched her own clothing line, called Rich Hipster Belle. Unfortunately, there aren’t any pieces from the line available on the Rich Hipster Website.
Celebrity Net Worth estimates that Michele has an estimated net worth of $1 million.
4. Michele Is Now Offering Rich Hipster University Courses for Artist Development for $750
In 2017, Michele will be teaching her own online classes after launching her Rich Hipster University. The first classes began on January 4. The classes include a once-a-month live call with Michele “where the students have the opportunity to ask course relevant questions and receive live lectures. Chrisette will personally evaluate and critique class assignments and include some students work in her Master Class presentations,” according to the university site. The goal of the course is to teach young artists how to work within the music industry.
“I was really big on learning from people who came before me like LA Reid and Babyface, Patti Labelle, Mariah Carey and Lionel Richie. I would just sit underneath them and ask them questions and not be afraid,” she told Barbados’ Nation News in January. “And I don’t know if we live in that type of era where artistes my age are comfortable giving that same type of information because artist development is no longer a department at record labels, so artistes get signed and get thrown out into the music business without any training but I definitely did receive that training.”
She told Nation News that the inspiration for hosting the classes was the frequent questions she would get about how to be a success in the music business.
“I always feel really bad that I could not give them more information, because people need information so I decided to start something where I take a certain amount of time in each month and give people the information that they want,” she told Nation News.
5. Michele Is Engaged to Manager Doug ‘Biggs’ Ellison, Who She Sued for Alleged Embezzlement in 2007
In October 2015, Michele announced that she is engaged to Doug ‘Biggs’ Ellison. Her representative told TheYBF.com that Ellison asked her father for her daughter’s hand in marriage before he proposed to her on top of the New York City building that houses the “Jungle City” studio.
Ellison is the CEO of Four Kings Productions, and claims responsibility for helping Michele’s career. However, their relationship was not always on good terms.
In 2007, when Michele was signed to Island Def Jam Records, she sued him and his company, claiming that he embezzled money from her contract. She later dropped that suit.
As Vibe reported in 2010, though, Ellison’s company sued Michele and Def Jam for $20 million, claiming that she illegally got out of her contract with Four Kings. It looks like Ellison and Michele put their problems aside though, and are now planning a wedding.