Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Ingrid Michaelson brings indie soul to the Calvin Theater

By Lindsey Davis

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Once upon a time, a sculptor and classical composer fell in love and created today’s leading indie-pop princess that has dominated the music world with her clever lyrics and whimsical instrumentals. That princess is Ingrid Michaelson, and she is returning to Northampton this weekend.

The 30-year-old singer dawns a geek chic style with her signature rimmed glasses and her sound that fuses an eclectic range of instruments from piano to ukulele. Her quirky lyrics embody every aspect of a college girl’s diary – writing of fuzzy love, love gone wrong, and learning from mistakes – but is laced with a youthful sense of humor. As indie as her soul may be, Michaelson has been known to do live covers of songs by mainstream pop royalties including Britney Spears, Lady Gaga and Vanilla Ice.

 In an interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette in June, Ingrid explained what makes her concerts special.

“Every show has been so fun for different reasons. We have dance moves; we’re always doing silly things,” she said. “We are having a lot of fun. It’s part of something bigger than people watching us play. My music can stand alone, but why not have fun? At the end of the day, I pour my heart into my performances.”

But Michaelson did not start her performance career as a musician.

Despite her extensive musical training since age four, Michaelson dreamt of being an actress and received a theater degree at Binghamton University. She traveled the country as a member of a theater troupe and worked for a children’s theater group in New York. It was not until after college that she dabbled in writing songs.

“I had not a thought in my head to be a musician,” she told the Gazette. “Then I started to write music and it was like something clicked. It was kind of like coming home. I discovered this is way more fun [than theater].”

As a fresh musical talent, the Staten Island native kicked off her music career in 2006 when she released the charming “Girls and Boys” album on her own label, Cabin 24 Records, which gained her celebrity status on Myspace.com. The album nailed her a national songwriting award and attracted the attention of major television networks.

Her songs have climbed the charts while being featured on television soundtracks for shows such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ugly Betty” and “One Tree Hill.” Even her future hit ”The Way I Am” made it’s way into Old Navy’s 2007 commercial campaign. The songstress was instantly dubbed an artist “You Oughta Know” by VH1, being the first unsigned artist to earn the honor.

She continued playing small venues such as The Hotel Café, home to alternative independent pop shows that have featured artists such as Imogen Heap, KT Tunstall, and Lenka. In 2008, Michaelson collaborated with Sara Bareilles on ”Winter Song,” a haunting melody set as the opening track on The Hotel Cafe’s ”Winter Songs” compilation album to benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure. She also donated a portion of the proceeds from her ”Be Ok” album to cancer research.

Despite all the success of the past three years, Michaelson has further to go. Only a few shows on her headlining tour have sold out, but Michaelson tweeted her excitement, “Portland and DC sold out now! Who are all you people? I remember when my parents were the only people at my shows?“

Michaelson is no stranger to Northampton. She kicked off a tour in October 2007 with the Iron Horse Music Hall and joined Feist at Smith College in 2008. This year, she has already played two shows in the city in March with Eric Hutchinson and June.

This Columbus Day weekend, Ingrid Michaelson will perform at the Calvin Theater in Northampton on October 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20.00 and $30.00. Dublin-grown, alternative folk band Guggenheim Grotto will open.

Lindsey Davis can be reached at [email protected]

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