Michelle Coltrane headlines on Sunday.
Jazz has surrounded Michelle Coltrane her entire life.
Michelle grew up as the daughter of Alice Coltrane and stepdaughter of John Coltrane, for whom the Coltrane International Jazz and Blues Festival was named. This year, she performs with the Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra, showcasing her own vocal excellence. She mentions looking forward to the festival with family connections to her.
“It’s the fruits of my parents’ labor,” she says. “And as the decedent it’s very lovely to see.”
Growing up with the musical influence of both her parents, Michelle understood the spirituality behind music easily. She reminisces about hiding under pianos and feeling the vibrations of the keys being played, her mother singing in Sanskrit and writing devotional songs. Michelle finds her most powerful tool to be her voice.
“I love that on a basic simple level we can congregate and lift our voices up,” she says.
Much like Michelle acknowledges her childhood influences, she believes it important to respect the beginnings of jazz, and the genre’s ties to African-American culture.
“You can’t forget the origins of music,” she says.
The year marks her second performance at the festival. After the release of her first album in the ’90s, Coltrane took a long break to focus on family, returning with a second album — Awakening — in 2017, after discovering her own songwriting process.
In a display that sees her talents in singing-songwriting next to her familial jazz background, Michelle Coltrane performs “Moments Notice.” The piece, by John Coltrane, was originally an instrumental., Michelle crafted her own set of lyrics to accompany his music, complete with a scat solo.
Only another Coltrane can mess with the canon like that.
“My brothers allowed me to do it so,” she laughs. “I’ve been approved.”