Michelle Shocked is a traveling troubadour whose musical talent is so eclectic it is difficult to categorize. As a young feminist, she left Texas to travel, Kerouac-style, and was caught up in Reagan-era grassroots politics. Her musical career was ignited by a bootleg recording made around a Kerrville Folk Festival campfire on a Sony Walkman.
In a 26-year career that has seen critical acclaim at every juncture, she famously escaped major-label indentured servitude in 1996, subverting the artist-label relationship that helped lead to the current trend toward artistic self-containment. She has made good use of her independence, releasing more critically-acclaimed albums on her Mighty Sound label. Her 2009 album, Soul of My Soul, was the latest of these. Her current work-in-progress, the as-yet-unrecorded Indelible Women is schedule for a 2014 release. In 2010, she launched Roadworks, an ongoing, 5-year touring project which curates audience’s favorite songs while developing Indelible Women. “Michelle Shocked” is the nom de guerre given at her arrest in a political protest called “The War Chest Tour” during the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco, California. The demonstration challenged the practice of U.S. corporations receiving lucrative military contracts from the U.S. government while giving generous campaign contributions to both political parties, thus benefiting from political favors regardless of election results. “Michelle Shocked” was intended to invoke the spectre of “shell shock” as a result of Reagan’s Cold War policies.
For over 20 years, acclaimed picker-poet Michelle Shocked has been generating compelling lyrics and mneumonic melodies. In the ’80’s, she was thrust into an inadvertent recording career when a bootleg tape was released in England. In the ensuing bidding war following the phenomena of The Texas Campfire Tapes, Mercury Records signed her and she produced a trilogy of Grammy-nominated albums over the next five years, launched by her signature song, “Anchorage.”
Shocked received her first international exposure in Europe, with her debut album, The Texas Campfire Tapes, a bootleg recorded around a festival campfire on a cassette recorder. Her U.S. debut came with the release of her 1988 album, Short Sharp Shocked on college radio rotations around the country, which was met with strong acclaim from listeners. The songs of Short Sharp Shocked are mostly about what it was like to grow up in rural Texas. Every song on this album is a gem. She signed with Mercury in 1987. Captain Swing, recorded in 1989, is almost perfect; the style is not exactly swing, because it’s also rock and roll. Arkansas Traveler, recorded in 1992, is mainly bluegrass. Michelle recorded and distributed Kind Hearted Woman in 1994 herself after leaving Mercury. In 1995, she contributed an original song to the soundtrack for the film Dead Man Walking called “Quality of Mercy”. In 1996, she released a studio version of an underground release Kind Hearted Woman. Starting in 2002 with the release of Deep Natural; Shocked established her own label, Mighty Sound. A 2005 trilogy called Threesome, and a 2007 bootleg of a gospel set called ToHeavenURide were followed In 2009 by her new album, Soul of My Soul, all released on Mighty Sound. Shocked continues to make music as an independent artist and currently lives in Downtown Los Angeles.
Michelle Shocked – traveller, troubadour, a “picker-poet,” as they say in Texas. As a young feminist, she left Texas to travel, Kerouac-style, and was caught up in Reagan-era grassroots politics. Her musical career was ignited by a bootleg recording made around a Kerrville Folk Festival campfire on a Sony Walkman. Released in England as ‘The Texas Campfire Tapes’ without Shocked’s authority, its success abroad enticed Mercury Records to offer the newcomer a recording contract. – “The most sophisticated hillbilly you’ll ever meet.”
An awfully authoritative-sounding internet rock guide insists that Michelle Shocked’s life must be fiction. But if it seems like an incredible road movie, a tall tale, a legend, it is no mystery. Michelle Shocked set forth on her adventure ever so young but ever so determined to jump past, jump through, jump beyond any boundary…CLICK FOR FULL TEXT OF BIO CHOICE #5
“I’m the most sophisticated hillbilly you’ll ever meet.”
When Michelle Shocked says this about herself, it’s hard not to crack up. ‘Hillbilly,’ after all, is no compliment. And frankly… CLICK FOR FULL TEXT OF BIO CHOICE #6
Welcome to draft your own using info from above. Beware Wikipedia. It’s biased and ignorant. All Music Guide? Yep, that too.
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