Michele Solberg has been performing and recording music for over 25 years. She released her first solo tape “Skin” in the summer of 1992, when she was just 19 years old. Since then she has recorded 7 albums. Early on, her career was marked with recognition and awards, including numerous honors at the 1992-1995 Austin Music Awards (#1 Best Tape 93-94, #2 Female Vocalist 94-95, #4 Singer-Songwriter 94-95, #6 Album of the Year 94-95) She also performed at the 11th Annual Austin music awards in 1993 . In 1994, she moved to New York for the summer for a residency at Café Sine (Jeff Buckley got his start there) in the East Village, and played clubs like CB’s Gallery and Sidewalk Café. Throughout the 90s, she toured regionally and frequently played at clubs like Antones, Cactus Café, and Ruta Maya in Austin, Texas.
In 1999, she moved to a small island in Denmark for two years with music Producer/Engineer Mike Stewart. While in Denmark, she developed a new appreciation for the Austin music community. When Michele returned to Austin in 2001, she began to shift her musical focus. She hosted the open stage at the Cactus Café for two years and met her husband Oliver Steck there. She also began playing for people who traditionally don’t have access to music.
In 2002, she founded Heart Gigs, a non-profit dedicated to promoting and providing free concerts for people who find it difficult to go to bars and other public areas that have music. Michele sponsored 25 different musicians to play at Project Transitions (housing for Aids patients), SafePlace, Hospice Austin, and University Baptist Soup Kitchen. She played music at Hospice Austin’s Christopher House once a week for five years, and at University Baptist Soup Kitchen once a month for two years. She worked with Laura Freeman for four years to bring music to the families at SafePlace.
In 2005, she produced and released a CD (Love is a Dangerous Thing) for Gary Graves. In 2006, she released “Christopher House Songs”, a CD that raised over $54,000 in donations for Hospice Austin. She was awarded the Greenlights’ Nonny Award in 2007 for her dedication.
In the summer of 2009, Michele started writing the songs for her last album, “Harvest Time.” The archetypal experiences of the major arcana in tarot inspired her to write eleven songs that follow the fool’s journey. She begins the album with “Harvest Time” that references the fool and the rebirth of Dionysus, who is featured as the fool in the Crowley tarot deck. The songs are either directly or loosely inspired by the Crowley tarot deck. In “Dust of the Moon,” Michele begins the song with a direct visual reference to the Crowley card, “the sun’s in the beetle’s pincers, moving through the night.” Other songs, such as “Dogs are on the Loose,” are an interpretation of the unrealized potential of the card, or the card in an upside down position. In “Between the Threads,” Michele makes a direct reference to the entire 78 card tarot deck, “there are 78 cries in a mockingbird’s song.” The songs resulted in a collaborative recording experience with Rob Halverson at Tree World Recording and the release of Michele’s first full-length original recording in over ten years.
Since 2014, Michele has been exploring jazz standards with a regular gig at the Evangeline Cafe in South Austin. She is also a member of the Benny Goodman tribute ensemble: Sammy’s Satin Sounds.
- Skin (1992)
- Shrill (1993)
- Michele Solberg (1994, Chocolate Records)
- Liquid (1996, Crystal Clear Records)
- Floating (1998, self-released)
- Beyond the Blue (2001, Chocolate Records)
- Christopher House Songs (2006, Hospice Austin)
- Harvest Time (2012)
Nothing but this body (all of it
and this voice (that comes from the depths of it
No shaker, no drum, no guitar, no costume
Just this wailing/ululating prayer rising smoke into fire Heavens
You plant your two feet solid as two trees
deep into the earth you bend with hidden breeze
Open up and let more worlds wind through you
You are your voice! This song is you!
There are those who embrace
the elements of opera distance
Still more are moviolas (small, intimate
hand held, miniature universes
Derveish winds blow right through you
Ride them as in AVATAR-wings surround you
as this banshee wail touches centuries
Make us aware again of our primal origisn
Harmony our destination. Between Now and Zen
only this thin knife wind voice slicing through all walls
to shout down Babylon, Jericho, Jerusalem, China, Scotland
Whole worlds tremble when you shake shiver release
Everything changes suits. You are undercover
Spring mechanisms click and align. Your voice chimes change
Bells ring in villages, proclaiming liberation!
All because you stood upon this stage-and sang it in!
FOR MICHELE SOLBERG
-Thom the Worldpoet (Tuesday, September 7, 2010)