Since moving to Zachary more than a year ago, Michelle Willis, 13, has made herself known to the community by performing at the annual Fall Art Crawl, Zachary Arts and Music Festival and winning the inaugural Z-Star singing competition.
The young singer/songwriter released a 14-song album, “Broken Sky,” earlier this year and continues to travel to Nashville once a month to write songs and “to grow as an artist.”
At 11, Michelle was discovered by an online talent scout and featured on the “Stars to Come” Web magazine, which led to an invitation for her to travel to Nashville and audition for industry professionals.
She was one of 20 people invited, which led to a contract and signing with PCG Nashville, an artist development company.
President of PCG Nashville, Bernard Porter, has called Michelle a “musical prodigy.”
Since age 3, she has been singing and entertaining, her talent first noticed while participating in a church choir.
“My dream of becoming an entertainer really began when I was 8, when I performed in my first musical theater production,” Michelle said. “The standing ovation I received sort of sparked something in me and was the motivating factor in helping me pursue my dream of becoming an accomplished singer and songwriter.”
Since signing with PCG Nashville, she has consistently been featured in the Top 40 at VRadio Nashville, the Top 30 at Music Road Radio Nashville and on several other independent radio stations.
She has been one of the featured artists on ReverbNation and performed at numerous venues in Nashville and Louisiana.
“I have some big show opportunities coming up over the next several months,” Michelle said.
On July 23 and July 25, she’ll sing at the Opry Mills Mall in Nashville on the main stage; perform Aug. 1 in a benefit concert in Alexandria with Taylor Matthews, one of the finalists from “America’s Got Talent”; open Aug. 8 for Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers in Missouri; and on Labor Day weekend, she’ll be the opening act for Little Texas Band, also in Missouri.
“This is an exciting time for me,” says Michelle.
Her performances are passionate and her refreshing honesty, as well as her vocal ability, work together to engage audiences, she believes.
She has been forthcoming about being bullied as child.
“That experience helped me turn a dark time into something positive,” said Michelle, referring to her song “Can’t Rain Forever,” which is featured on her album. “I love to entertain people with my singing and really want to make a difference with my music.”
To hear songs from her new album, visit michellewillis music.com.