Michelle Branch (born July 2, 1983) is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. During the early 2000's, she released two top-selling albums, The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, as well as singles such as "Everywhere," "All You Wanted," "Are You Happy Now?," and the Grammy-winning collaboration with Santana, "The Game of Love." She was nominated in 2003 for the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Following her marriage and subsequent pregnancy in 2004, Branch placed her career on hold. In 2005, she formed the country music duo The Wreckers with friend and fellow musician Jessica Harp, and produced a Grammy-nominated single "Leave the Pieces." Despite that success, the band took a break in 2007 to pursue their solo careers. Her new album Everything Comes and Goes will explore her acoustic/alternative musical roots as well as country music, and will be released in 2009.
1983-2000: Early life and Broken Bracelet
Michelle Jacquet DeSevren Branch was born on July 2, 1983 in Sedona Arizona to an Irish father and a mother of Dutch Indonesian ancestry. She was named after the Beatles song Michelle and her surname is of French origin. When she was 8 years old she began taking voice lessons from Julie Carrick near St. Mary's School in Flagstaff, AZ. Branch received a guitar for her fourteenth birthday from her uncle and she immediately taught herself chords, and she composed her first song within a few days. During high school, she began writing songs extensively. She initially attended Sedona Red Rock High School but was soon continuing her education through home schooling. Branch's career began with the release of Broken Bracelet, an album released on the independent record label Twin Dragon Records on June 1, 2000. Its title was inspired by an occurrence at a Lisa Loeb concert she attended. Before the concert began, musician Steve Poltz gave her a bracelet made by pop singer Jewel; he told Michelle that "when it breaks, you'll be famous." A year later the bracelet snapped and she thought nothing of it.
2001-2004: The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper
Branch soon signed a recording deal with Maverick Records while opening for Hanson in December 2000. Her first album for the label The Spirit Room was released in August 2001, producing the hit single "Everywhere," which won the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards Viewer's Choice Award. This was followed by "All You Wanted" and "Goodbye to You." Comparisons to other popular singers Marion Raven, Avril Lavigne, and Vanessa Carlton soon followed, all of whom rose to prominence at around the same time. In 2002, her career as an artist began to blossom when she teamed up with Santana on the song "The Game of Love," which went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. She would then earn a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best New Artist, but was edged out by Norah Jones. Her second album Hotel Paper was released in 2003 and was met with mixed reviews. The lead single "Are You Happy Now?" was a chart success, and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, but was edged out by Pink's "Trouble." The following singles, however, "Breathe" and "'Til I Get over You," did not match the first single's success. Branching out into television, she appeared in several shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Dreams, and Charmed. In June, 2004 she hosted MTV's "Faking the Video" alongside Nick Lachey and JC Chasez. She also appeared in the Rob Schneider film The Hot Chick.
Branch decided to collaborate with her backup singer and longtime friend Jessica Harp on a new project in July, 2005. They were initially known as the "The Cass County Homewreckers" as a joke by Branch's husband, but they trimmed it down to The Wreckers. Their album attempted to combine their respective genres, pop rock and country. It was originally slated for release in June, 2005 but was delayed because of reasons surrounding Branch's pregnancy. The duo's first single "Leave the Pieces" was released in February, 2006, while their album Stand Still, Look Pretty was released in May. During this period, they contributed to Santana's album All That I Am, with the song "I'm Feeling You," appeared in the American teen television drama One Tree Hill, and joined country music stars Rascal Flatts and Gary Allan on a U.S. tour. They initially toured with Gavin DeGraw. The album did not satisfy some of her fans, who voiced their displeasure on the message boards for The Wreckers' official website, which had to be shut down. Despite the negative backlash, the group was nominated for the 2006 CMA Awards Vocal Duo of the Year and for a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the song "Leave the Pieces" in December, 2006. Stand Still, Look Pretty was certified Gold by the RIAA with sales of 851,000 copies as of March 2009. As of early August, 2007, Branch and Jessica Harp announced on the band's official message board that they were putting the band on hold while they moved forward with solo albums. Subsequent press statements have made it clear that The Wreckers, at least as a partnership between Branch and Harp, is no more.
2008-present: Everything Comes And Goes
Immediately thereafter, Branch wrote an unreleased song for Mandy Moore's 2007 album Wild Hope and also wrote "Together" for the soundtrack of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2. In October 2007, she announced that she was working on a new solo album and later reported the title would be Everything Comes and Goes. In June 2008, she played several live shows in preparation for the album's release with her sister Nicole singing backing vocals. She was also quoted in Billboard as saying the album would retain a country flavor. A few song titles discussed were "Long Goodbye," "Texas In The Mirror," "This Way," and the ballad "Crazy Ride." On her web site, Branch put up a 46-second clip of her new single "This Way" and in February 2009 released the full song as a free download for her web site's members. Also in early 2009, she sang the song "I Lose My Heart" in a duet with Chris Isaak on his new album Mr. Lucky. The first single from the album "Sooner Or Later" was released on July 28, 2009. In August 2009 during a live show at The Grove in Los Angeles, Michelle confirmed the album is to be released in November 2009.
Branch married her bass player Teddy Landau in Mexico on May 23, 2004, and gave birth to a baby girl named Owen Isabelle on August 3, 2005. Her other relatives include an older half-brother named David, a younger sister named Nicole, a maternal grandmother, who was held by the Japanese in an internment camp during World War II, and a maternal grandfather, who was French and Indonesian. During 2007, she sold her Calabasas home, and in January 2008 moved to Nashville. On June 15, 2008, Branch announced on her official message board that she will be fulfilling a lifelong dream by opening a bakery in Nashville called "The Sugar Bar" with pastry chef Rebekka Seale. Unfortunately, the plan was postponed so that she could focus on her music career.
Branch owns at least fourteen guitars, but mainly uses a Gibson Hummingbird after retiring her blue Taylor 614ce. In addition to the guitar, she also plays other instruments such as the piano, drums, and mandolin. She states that her music has been influenced by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Aerosmith, Patsy Cline, Cat Stevens, Stevie Nicks, and Joni Mitchell, but also enjoys listening to more contemporary artists such as Incubus, Soundgarden, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Metallica, Silverchair, Madonna, Lisa Loeb, Sheryl Crow, and Patty Griffin. Her other interests include classical music and older country music.