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Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Avenues Have Opened Up For Lori

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By:S. James Snyder/For The Star-Ledger
“It definitely felt like an overnight whirlwind, but I signed up for this a long time ago,” says the 37-year-old artist.

“I may not be as young as the Miley Cyruses out there, but I’ve learned how to hone my sound and embrace the business side of music, and how to constantly develop my talent. So this has happened suddenly, but I feel like I’ve been building toward this moment for a long, long time.”

Michaels, who lives in Bergen County, grew up in Fairview.

She trained professionally at Broadway Dance Center in New York and was a soloist in her local church choir. She later graduated from New York University, where her major was pre-law.

She is president of the nonprofit Reach Out, still leading the volunteer community service organization she started in high school more than 20 years ago. Some of her projects include H.E.R.O. (Help Everyone Reach Out — raising awareness and funds for breast cancer), A.N.G.E.L. (Awakening New Generations Enhancing Lives — an initiative promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention) and Dance for Health (encouraging communities to get involved in positive, healthy activities).

Photo: Noah K. Murray/Star-Ledger
Music remained a hobby for Michaels while she ran Reach Out and taught dance. Then in 2006, she created the hit stage show “Me & the Girls,” a production that filled what she believed was a void in the gay entertainment scene.

“I’m an alt artist, and I wanted to package something a little bit differently than what was out there for the GLBT audience,” she says.

“Typically, you would see mostly lesbian artists who were singer-songwriters taking to the stage with their guitars. There was nothing like a Pussycat Dolls show, which is exactly what ‘Me & the Girls’ set out to be.

“And I’ve been told by many people that what I assembled and orchestrated changed the rules of the game a little bit at pride festivals and clubs for professional GLBT entertainment across the country.”
As Michaels performed the show, she made a name for herself as a kinetic, fiery performer and a singer with a rich, deep, sultry tone.

At a much-publicized 2008 “coming out” party at the House of Blues in Atlantic City (“coming out” referred to the launch of her company, Lori Michaels Productions), “Me & the Girls” achieved a new level of attention.
And not long after the Atlantic City bash, she released her first album, “Living My Life Out Loud,” via Reform Records.
The Staub connection began last summer, Michaels says, when she met the New Jersey “real housewife” backstage at New York City’s Nokia Theatre following a benefit concert.
“I gave her my CD, and then we met very randomly again at a diner in New Jersey, and I was surprised that she remembered me.”

Photo:Film Magic

It was at dinner, Michaels recalls, that she befriended the entire Staub family, meeting Staub’s 12-year-old daughter, Jillian, who also is interested in music. Michaels says she invited the preteen to check out her recording studio and soon after, Danielle approached the musician with the idea of co-producing a song.

A year later, “Real Close” is reality, as is the constant speculation about the nature of their relationship.

“I would like to keep my private life private, and I guess that’s the hardest part to get used to,” Michaels says about the gossip surrounding her and Staub.

“I’m pretty secure in what’s going on between us behind the scenes, but when you look at People magazine and Us Weekly and all the major publications, I think it’s always a fine line between entertainment and reality.
“She’s on an entertainment show, I’m a singer-songwriter pulled into that through another aspect of the TV world. But I don’t think anyone has any right to invade my private life.”

Michaels says she’s more focused on building excitement at clubs and festivals around her hit new single, “Rebound,” a collaboration with disc jockey and producer Giuseppe D. In late July, the song hit the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart at No. 44, and was featured on iTunes top 20 dance tracks.

She says it’s been a wild and unpredictable two years since her coming out party.

“I’ve been taking risks all along, and once again everyone thought I was crazy to go and debut that song (“Real Close”) with such a simple arrangement on national TV. But then it caught fire, and we heard that the following Monday, Ryan Seacrest was promoting the song on his radio show, and we were suddenly on everyone’s radar.

“I very quickly realized that this was my chance to put forth all that I have in the hopes that something sticks with people. And the opportunities that are now out there for me, as a producer, a singer, a songwriter, have already changed my life.”

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