There is perhaps no moment more powerful (and magical) than catching a line in a song and thinking, “How did she know?! She gave voice to what I’ve been feeling… and it’s beautiful.” In that heady swirl, a song transmutes from mere rhythm, melody, and lyrics into a personal anthem. You’re not alone anymore. The singer gets it, she gets you, and her song provides the needed strength to weather the emotional tempest that’s been wreaking havoc on your life.
Michelle LeBlanc is that artist. If you listen closely, you can hear that her sweet, silken voice is just the tiniest bit worn around the edges. She’s lived it. All of it. Those sleepless nights of wondering and that endless procession of days spent waiting and hoping something will change. The anguish of falling hard, but not knowing if the other person feels the same. Being a prisoner of your own heart.
On March 2, Michelle will release her debut album, a true story called A Man Like You. She fearlessly took all of her heartache, confusion, and regret, and weaved it into a spellbinding tapestry of rich emotional colors and textures. The sultry guitars coupled with Michelle’s smokey, soulful vocals conjure a captivating soundscape that allows her lyrics to resonate with and provide solace for anyone who has languished in unrequited affection.
“Basically, the EP is about one guy. He has the typical patterns of the kind of men that I’ve had a lot of experiences with,” Michelle laughed. “It’s nothing that I’m not totally used to, but this was a guy that a tarot reader predicted would come into my life, and he did just as she predicted. We became friends, but I always felt there was some crazy deep connection. We had a lot of synchronicity about us.”
But how did Michelle get to this point. What were the steps that brought her from South Carolina to New York to Nashville via a psychic?
“I moved to New York to pursue acting,” Michelle began. “At that point, I was teaching myself how to play guitar and I was just starting to fiddle around with writing music, but it was a very private, in-my-bedroom kind of experience.”
Shortly after she arrived in New York, LeBlanc began working in bars. It turned out she was very good at it. At a very young age, she found herself running a bar. Her schedule was overwhelming and she was forced to abandon her pursuit of acting, so writing songs became her sole creative outlet.
“I went to great acting schools, very amazing acting schools, and I had incredible training. But all the while, singing was my thing,” she explained. “It was always my thing and everyone always knew it. But acting was the platform at that point of my life that was moving me in and out of where I was meant to be, so I followed that until it didn’t make sense anymore.”
“Then one day, sh*t hit the fan at my day job.”
The disruption caused her to question everything she was doing.
“I quit the whole managing a bar scene and I was taking a break. I knew music was what I was supposed to be doing, but I didn’t know how to do it. And that was about the time I saw a tarot reader. She said, ‘You need to move to Nashville and you need to focus on your music.'”
Michelle took a trip to Nashville and saw how she fit in and what she could do with her music. When she returned to New York, she joined every songwriting group she could find and took any class she could with the intention being that she would eventually make a permanent move to Nashville.
“I used those next couple of years in New York to save up money and get involved in any songwriting workshops, classes, and co-writing opportunities I could find. It was important to me to feel prepared and to build up my confidence, both musically and personally, before making the move. I practiced hard, wrote a ton of songs, and got co-writing under my belt to prepare me for Nashville.”
But there was a second part to the psychic’s prediction: Michelle was going to meet a man.
“I met him through my first trip to Nashville,” she recalled. “It turns out, we’re from the same town! In New York, he lived a block away from me on the same street. He was an actor and he and I were both starting to focus on music instead of acting. There was all this really insane ‘we were meant to know each other’ stuff that was actually really scary. But to this day, I still have no idea how he feels about me, so I made the move to Nashville and left without confronting any of my feelings about him. I put all of that in this EP — leaving behind someone that I had feelings for, moving to a new place, and dealing with all the residual heartache and confusion and regret of not having done what I could have done in the moment to see if we would have gone anywhere.”
Once in Nashville, the songs just started flowing. “Highway” is the second track on her EP. Michelle wrote it on her first night in Nashville. “Highway” is a sonic rose that blossoms with an encouraging vibrancy. The comforting refrain is a sanctuary for the brokenhearted.
“I started writing ‘Highway’ the first night that I moved here. It was November 16. I had driven from South Carolina and all my sh*t was being shipped here, so all I had was two suitcases, a bunch of pillows, and a blowup mattress. I was staying in this random apartment that I’d found via the Internet, and when I got there, I discovered I had a balcony — you don’t have a balcony in New York City unless you want to pay $1 million! When I stepped out onto the balcony, I realized that I was just close enough to the highway where I could hear it a little bit in the faint distance. That was the moment I started writing the song.”
“Highway” is about Michelle being sad that she’d made this big move and he didn’t come along on the adventure with her. After she wrote it, she decided if she couldn’t tell this guy how she felt, she’d send him the song to let him know.
“He did respond… But basically all he said was, ‘I don’t know what to say about this,'” she laughed. “So, it was more of the same thing. He could’ve said, ‘Michelle, I don’t feel that way about you, but I really adore you and you deserve someone amazing.’ Or he could’ve said, ‘I have these feelings, but I don’t know what to do with them.’ Instead, he had nothing to say. He’s a great guy, and I have no hard feelings towards him, but I honestly have no idea how he feels.”
The title of her EP is A Man Like You. Michelle uses that line twice — once in “BTW” and once in “Loving A Hurricane.” To her, the line represents the idea of accepting that it’s not meant to be: “If it’s not a man like you, then it’s something better.”
“I can’t speak for everyone because everyone has their different beliefs and their own experiences, but it feels like my life is pulling me in a certain direction,” Michelle opened up. “I struggled with that for a long time by doing whatever I could to distract myself from that. But it just kept knocking on my door. The minute I was in Nashville and I started focusing on songwriting, everything else just fell into place. It’s been a crazy year of things just unfolding perfectly because this EP really wants to be alive. So, I let it be.”
The Law of Attraction is a philosophy that dictates whatever you focus on is what you will bring into your life. If you focus on the positive, good will come to you. Sometimes, however, that doesn’t work because it’s hard to be positive when you’re in a dark place. Michelle believes in surrendering to your life. In short, stop struggling against what is meant to be.
“You know what you want and you know where you want to be, but you can’t hold tightly to those dreams and force your way forward, you have to relax and let yourself flow into it. I’m at a stage in my life where it’s less of me pushing for things to work out and more of me leaning back and letting things align with the right timing and the right people so it happens naturally and easily and magically.”
“I’ve always been a happy dabbler, but lately, I think I’ve started coming out of my woo-woo closet,” Michelle confessed.
Woo-woo is a term used to describe those things that fall outside of the realm of traditional science. It could be sound therapy, homeopathy, using crystals, seeing auras, tarot readings, or any of a myriad of “unconventional” disciplines, practices, or beliefs. Over recent years, there has been a growing awareness and acceptance of these intangibles. Publicly expressing your belief in such things has become known as “coming out of the woo-woo closet.”
“I’ve always been into mystical stuff. All the big turning points in my life have come magically and synchronistically, so I’ve always just known there was something pushing me and pulling me that was greater than myself. I’m at the point where I’m not shying away from it. I’ve lived a large, full life and I believe I have a lot of wisdom. This is something that I’ve always been very interested in and connected to. Now that you know that, you see that going to a tarot reader back when I was living in New York was not something that was completely out of my box.”
If you follow Michelle on social media, you already know she does her own tarot readings. And, part of her Kickstarter rewards include intuitive messages, dream jars, 5 Magic Potions: Cocktail Recipe Guide, tarot readings, a potion party, and more. But how far does she actually delve?
“Spells? I find that stuff interesting, but I don’t necessarily practice that,” she admitted. “I am, however, a very aware and awake person and I try to live my life with a lot of intention. I’m constantly studying myself and the situations that I get myself involved in. I think there is a lot of power in that. Thought creates our circumstances, so I’m constantly working with myself, moment by moment, through any relationship I am in. Things do tend to show up very magically for me, and I think that is because I expect them to. That is where this idea of ‘spells’ comes into play.”
When asked, Michelle didn’t disagree that there are some similarities between spells and songwriting in that both involve an intense focusing of energies that can positively affect your life and the lives of others.
Whether you believe in magic or you just admire her uplifting honesty, Michelle sings with an undeniable purity and sweetness that is absolutely mesmerizing. Additionally, her voice contains a hint of worldliness that suggests she’s truly lived and experienced some extraordinary things.
“Oh, I have,” she laughed devilishly. “And I can’t stop it from happening. My memoirs are going to be so juicy!”
Michelle LeBlanc will be celebrating the release of her debut EP, A Man Like You, on March 2 at The Bowery Vault (2905 C Gallatin Pike in Nashville). The concert begins at 9 p.m. And, on March 14, be sure to visit B-sides and Badlands to see the premiere of Michelle’s enthralling video for “Hot and Heavy.”