Michelle Malone Strips Down (and Folks Up)

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Michelle Malone Strips Down (and Folks Up)

Atlanta-bred singer/songwriter Michelle Malone has lived through more than a few different incarnations in her career. She's been a blues rocker, a torch singer, an Americana troubadour, and, with her upcoming Acoustic Winter record, a folk singer... or as close to a folk singer as the fierce vocalist will probably ever get.

Indeed, this new effort finds Malone stripping down to the basics. In these songs, in this setting, she wears her heart on her sleeve -- an outfit she's not altogether comfortable donning in public. At least she has the courage of her convictions and the passion for her calling to keep her warm.

Those of us who have been around for 25+ years have seen a lot of changes in the music business. How has your career shifted to keep up?

I started out as an independent artist because I am an empowered can-do type of person. All I need is someone to tell me I can’t do something, and I’m off to prove to myself that I CAN do it. I released my first independent recording in 1987 -- because I wanted to make a record, because I had written some songs that were important to me, and because I had always loved music. Along the way, I discovered that I enjoyed writing, performing, and recording. I didn’t need anyone to give me permission to do what I enjoyed.

Luckily, I have always been a pleasure seeker, so I followed my bliss. I am essentially the same person as I have always been, though the way I see things philosophically and spiritually have changed. To me, making music is not about power or money or keeping up with the Joneses or any worldly pursuit; it is about following my unique path as an individual. My life is about being true to myself both as an artist and as a spiritual being. A person who lives from their spirit will always be relevant, regardless of what’s popular, because it is the path to true happiness, and everyone wants to be happy.

So many artists are now taking their careers in their own hands, but you did that quite a while ago. How does it feel to have been on the front lines of that trend?

I have never been good at being a conformist. ... My mother has always said that my