Oakland Singer Discovers Musical Roots in New Orleans

New album by CHELLE! and Friends brings Louisiana spirit to the Bay Area

Oakland, CA

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michelle Jacques always chose French as her elective language in school. “I never knew what attracted me to the French language, and I never knew why The Bay never quite felt like home until I started my research.” In 2008 Jaques, also known as “Chelle” to her many listeners, fans, and students, was awarded a City of Oakland Individual Artist Grant to travel to New Orleans “to research my people. Creole people. New Orleans music, culture, language, and people.”

This research ultimately sprouted the heartfelt new album “Voodoville” by her group, CHELLE! and Friends, which will celebrate with a CD release party and concert Sunday, April 18th at Coda Jazz Supper Club in San Francisco.
“There are lots of New Orleans natives in the Bay Area, and we want to reach out to them,” proclaims Chelle. “Join in the celebration! It’s not just a celebration of the new CD, it’s a celebration of New Orleans – of the music, of the people, of the culture.”

It was Chelle’s quest for her own identity that began that journey. “I wanted to know who I was. I knew there was more to me. I wanted to know the history of my family.” Chelle’s mother had worked as a young woman in the French Quarter and her father was a trumpet player from New Orleans. “I grew up with the music,” she explains, “but my research has helped me understand how creative New Orleans people are, and all about the history, the Creole language, and the culture.”

Chelle will debut the culmination of her work with her group CHELLE! and Friends, a unique blend of talented instrumentalists and well-versed a cappella style singers, whose vast experience ranges from Al Green and Zap Mama to Bobby McFerrin’s Voicestra. The album “Voodooville” is out April 18th on Jenpet Records, and the CD release party at Coda Jazz Supper Club is not to be missed, so laissez le bon temps rouler!


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