Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Walker, Michelle (Anne)
Walker, Michelle (Anne), vocalist, educator, analyst; b. Bohmholder, Germany, 9 January 1967. While she was an infant her father (Army Captain Adolphus Walker, Jr, 1938) moved the family (Mark, b. 1958, Michael, b. 1960, Gerald, b.1963, Lynnise, b. 1964, Michelle, b. 1967 and Jonathan, b. 1969) to Lawton, OK. Both her father and mother (born Linnie Mae Bardwell, 1937) were avid fans of musical plays and got their children involved in community theatre during their years living in Oklahoma. By the time she was 10 she knew over 300 musical standards. Then in 1977 her father retired from the military and took a teaching position at a historically Black College in Columbia, South Carolina. Michelle entered a school for the arts at the age of 11 and studied dance, music and drama. Each of the Walker children were expected to study a musical instrument and Michelle tried both piano and violin between the ages of 8-12 years. But, it was clear to everyone that voice was her instrument of choice even then. During her Junior High School years Michelle was often the lead in her school plays and was asked to sing in a number of community events. Her parents separated there in 1983 and she moved with her mother and youngest brother John to Greenbelt, MD a suburb of Washington, DC were she resides to date. A few years after High School in 1989, Michelle moved to London, England and spent 3 years on the vocalist circuit and jazz open jams. She quickly became a featured singer in clubs such as Ronnie Scott's, Singer's and the Limelight. Her parents concerned that she would not be able to sustain a secure life as an artist insisted that she return to college. In 1993, after Michelle returned to the U.S. she enrolled at the University of Maryland and studied government as a major and voice as minor. She studied under classical vocalists Dr. Mary Hastings and Dr. Rose Bello. Dr. Hastings highly encouraged her to enter a music school to study classical voice and pursue Opera it as a career. But after only one class with jazz veterans vocalist Ronnie Wells and her husband pianist Ron Elliston (Bill Evans protege) Michelle knew her life was meant for jazz. Michelle studied privately with Ronnie Wells, jazz vocalist Pam Bricker and pianist Wayne Wilentz over the next four years and performed in a number of jazz clubs around the DC area. By 2001 she felt confident to start her own group and formed the Michelle Walker Quartet. Within a few months of her performing around the DC area full-time, mentor Wayne Wilentz and Michelle began to receive growing critical acclaim for her deep and rich tone as well as see a growing public demand for a recording by Michelle. She is very active in a number of educational programs around the city as well as the International Association of Jazz Educators. Michelle has performed in a number of jazz festivals including East Coast Jazz Festival (showcased), Stanford Jazz Festival (showcased), Jazzin' in the Catskills (headliner), and has attended some of the most jazz workshops including the vocal workshop hosted by the Manhattan School of Music at the Music Conservatory in Amsterdam, Holland. She stills sees herself as a student of jazz and continues to study with jazz veterans Madeline Eastman, Nancy Marano, Jay Clayton and Miles Griffith. To date the highlight in her music life was when pianist Benny Green heard her sing at the Stanford Jazz Festival in San Francisco, CA and asked her to join him in an impromptu intimate duo set after the concert.
Michelle continues to sing full-time in DC, the NYC area and abroad while maintaining a "secure career" as a government analyst to please her mother.
Jazz Girl Productions
P.O. Box 384 Riverdale, MD 20738