Michelle Pirret

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Born and raised in New York, Michelle Pirret is a torch singer who is capable of singing jazz as well as cabaret and traditional pre-rock pop. Pirret is not an aggressive, forceful belter; for the most…
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Born and raised in New York, Michelle Pirret is a torch singer who is capable of singing jazz as well as cabaret and traditional pre-rock pop. Pirret is not an aggressive, forceful belter; for the most part, her vocals tend to be subtle, relaxed, and understated, and she brings a gentle vulnerability to her work. Although the native New Yorker (who still lives in the Big Apple) has been active in the arts most of her life, she did not start out wanting to be a professional singer. Before Pirret sang, she wanted to be a dancer, and at 14, she entered Balanchine's School of American Ballet. Pirret had been attending the school for several years when she suffered an injury that ended her budding career as a dancer, and that injury is what led to her interest in professional singing. While Pirret was recovering from her injury and listening to the radio, she discovered jazz singing. The recording that really sparked Pirret's interest (and led to her interest in cabaret and traditional pop) was Dianne Reeves' recording of Rickie Lee Jones' "Company." Pirret doesn't sound anything like Reeves, who is a grittier and more aggressive type of singer -- Reeves, unlike Pirret, is very much a belter and brings a strong R&B influence to her jazz foundation. Nonetheless, Reeves' singing made Pirret want to dig deeper, and she ended up studying jazz singing with Sheila Jordan and Jay Clayton at the Vermont Jazz Center. Pirret also studied with teacher Marion Cowings, who lists Harry Connick, Jr. as one of her former students.

In the early 2000s, Pirret (who is also an actress) met New York resident Bernard Bierman, a veteran songwriter who was heavily influenced by Tin Pan Alley greats such as George Gershwin, Harold Arlen, Irving Berlin and Cole Porter. Bierman, who was born in New York on August 26, 1908, was in his nineties when he met Pirret -- and even though he was never a huge name in the music world, his songs had been recorded by major artists like Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra, Billy Eckstine, Guy Lombardo, and Xavier Cugat (among others). In 2001, Pirret and Bierman collaborated when she produced her debut album, Somewhere in the World, which focuses on Bierman's songs exclusively. Somewhere in the World was released on Raydo Music in 2002.