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Michelle Jacquet DeSevren Branch (born July 2, 1983) is an American singer, songwriter and actress. During the early 2000s, she released two top-selling albums, The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper. She won a Grammy with Santana for "The Game of Love".
In 2005, she formed the country music duo The Wreckers with friend and fellow musician Jessica Harp, and produced the Grammy-nominated single "Leave the Pieces". The Wreckers disbanded in 2007 to pursue their respective solo careers. Since then, she released extended plays in 2010 and 2011, and released her third solo album, Hopeless Romantic, on April 7, 2017.
Life and career
1983–2000: Early life and Broken Bracelet
Branch was born on July 2, 1983, in Sedona, Arizona, to David and Peggy Branch. Her father is Irish, and her mother is of Dutch-Indonesian ("Indo") and French descent. Her siblings include an older half-brother named David and a younger sister named Nicole.
Beginning to sing at the age of three, Branch enrolled in voice lessons at Northern Arizona University when she was eight, and received her first guitar for her fourteenth birthday. After teaching herself chords, she composed her first song "Fallen" within a week of receiving her guitar. She initially attended Sedona Red Rock High School, but finished the last two years of her high school education through home schooling so that she could focus on her music career. To support Branch's interests, her parents helped her book local gigs in Sedona, Arizona, and later financed her independent album Broken Bracelet. Her set list at these gigs included covers of songs by Sheryl Crow, Lisa Loeb, Jewel, and Fleetwood Mac.
In December 1999, she posted two of her songs on the Rolling Stone website, which caught the attention of both pop rock band Hanson and former Rolling Stone writer and Los Angeles record producer Jeff Rabhan, eventually leading to two gigs opening for Hanson in 2000.
In June 2000, Branch self-produced Broken Bracelet, a compilation of songs she wrote when she was 14 and 15; the album was released on the independent record label Twin Dragon Records. Its title was inspired from a bracelet made by pop singer Jewel, given to Branch by musician Steve Poltz at a Lisa Loeb concert she attended. Poltz told Branch that "when it breaks, you'll be famous." The Broken Bracelet recordings were destroyed in the Nashville floods in May 2010.
2001–2005: The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper
In 2001, Branch signed a recording deal with Maverick Records, where she began working with John Shanks to produce her first album and major-label debut. The album, The Spirit Room, was released in August 2001, producing the hit single "Everywhere". The single was a commercial success, winning the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards Viewer's Choice Award. "Everywhere" was later followed by singles "All You Wanted" and "Goodbye to You". In August 2001, she appeared on Total Request Live after "Everywhere" reached No. 4 on their charts. Due to the mainstream success of those released singles, The Spirit Room was certified Double Platinum by the RIAA for selling over two million copies in the United States. Michelle also sang in Hanson's 2004 album, Underneath in the song, "Deeper". VH1 released Branch's Pop-Up Video for her song "All You Wanted".
Branch met Justincase before her debut on Maverick Records, becoming friends over the Internet before meeting in Las Vegas for a music convention in 2000. Justincase was signed to Maverick Records in late 2001 with the help of Branch. A self-titled album was released on October 29, 2002, and included several collaborations with Branch, including the lead single, "Don't Cry for Us".
In 2002, Branch teamed up with Santana, alongside songwriters Gregg Alexander and Rick Nowels, to produce the song "The Game of Love", which went on to win a Grammy Award for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals. She also earned a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best New Artist, which was won by Norah Jones.
Branch's second major label album, Hotel Paper, was released in 2003 and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA for selling over one million copies. However, the album was met with mixed reviews. The lead single, "Are You Happy Now?", was a chart success, earning Branch a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, though the song lost to Pink's "Trouble". The following singles, however, "Breathe" and "'Til I Get over You", did not match the first single's success. Branching out into television, she appeared in several shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, American Dreams, and Charmed. In June 2004, she hosted MTV's "Faking the Video" alongside Nick Lachey and JC Chasez. She also appeared in the Rob Schneider film The Hot Chick.
2005–2007: The Wreckers
In July 2005, Branch began collaborating with her backup singer and longtime friend Jessica Harp. They were initially known as "The Cass County Homewreckers" as a joke by Branch's husband, but they trimmed it down to The Wreckers. Their album attempted to combine their respective genres—pop rock and country. It was originally slated for release in June 2005 but was delayed because of reasons surrounding Branch's pregnancy. The duo's first single "Leave the Pieces" was released in February 2006, while their album Stand Still, Look Pretty was released in May.
During this period, they contributed to Santana's album All That I Am, with the song "I'm Feeling You", appearing on the American teen television drama One Tree Hill, and joined country music stars Rascal Flatts on a U.S. tour. They initially toured with Gavin DeGraw, Tyler Hilton and Bethany Joy Galeotti which was also written into the show during the second season. The group was nominated for the 2006 CMA Awards Vocal Duo of the Year and for a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for the song "Leave the Pieces" in December, 2006. Stand Still, Look Pretty was certified Gold by the RIAA with sales of 851,000 copies as of March 2009. The Wreckers split in 2007.
Branch sold her Calabasas home and moved to Nashville.
2008–2012: Unreleased albums
Immediately thereafter, Branch wrote an unreleased song for Mandy Moore's 2007 album Wild Hope, and also wrote "Together" for the soundtrack of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2; it was also featured as the final song ever played on the CBS TV soap opera, Guiding Light. In October 2007, she announced that she was working on a new solo album and later reported the title would be Everything Comes and Goes. In June 2008, she played several live shows in preparation for the album's release with her sister Nicole singing backing vocals.
In early 2009, she sang the song "I Lose My Heart" in a duet with Chris Isaak on his new album Mr. Lucky. A video for the first single from the album "Sooner Or Later" was released on July 28, 2009. Also in 2009, she recorded "A Case of You" (originally by Joni Mitchell) for the compilation Covered, A Revolution in Sound which commemorated Warner Bros. Records 50th anniversary. A video was made for the song "This Way" and uploaded to Branch's official YouTube account in October 2009, but it was not released as a single and did not chart. (The video was included on a limited edition DVD entitled The Video Anthology available on michellebranch.com.) Everything Comes and Goes was finally released as a six-track extended play on July 16, 2010, via Branch's website and would be available at all retailers one month later. In 2010, Branch and R&B/hip-hop producer Timbaland collaborated on a pop/R&B song entitled "Getaway" and released a video.
In December 2010, Branch announced her return to her pop/rock roots for her album, West Coast Time. In early 2011, Branch released three previously unreleased songs from Everything Comes and Goes including, "Texas In the Mirror", "Take a Chance on Me", and "Long Goodbye", the latter a duet with Dwight Yoakam. On March 22, 2011 in a video regarding updates on the third studio album uploaded via Branch's YouTube account, Branch confirmed that half the album is finished and added that "it's sounding really really good....it's all going well and it's all on time." On April 14, 2011 it was announced that Branch had finished recording the album, she also added that "only mixing/mastering left. Michelle practiced and recorded a few tracks with Tilted Head and FIVE lead singer Joshua Barton, however it is still a work in progress." On May 26, 2011, Branch hosted a live webchat with fans in which she previewed her new single "Loud Music", which was released to the iTunes Store on June 14, 2011. The song was co-written and produced by British writers Jim Irvin and Julian Emery who collaborated with Michelle on several songs on the album. In the webcast, Branch also mentioned songs on the album called "Mastermind" and "The Story Of Us" and also added that "Through The Radio" would be a hidden track on the CD. In a previous webcast, she premiered a song from the album called "Spark". During a live outdoor performance at the Warner Brothers building she performed another new song, dedicated to her then-husband Teddy Landau, "For Dear Life". In June 2011, she released the album's first single titled "Loud Music". It has charted on the Adult Pop Songs chart. On July 12, 2011, Branch performed "God Bless America" at the MLB All-Star Game, in Phoenix, Arizona. In September, a new song "Another Sun" was featured on Fox's TV series Terra Nova. On October 29, 2011, she gave a small concert to approximately 200 fans at the Egyptian Room in downtown Indianapolis, as part of the Gravedigger's Ball. On December 12, 2011, Branch released a song titled "If You Happen to Call" for free download on the official website.
In February 2012, VH1 hosted the "100 Greatest Women In Music" special and she was nominated in both the "Pop" category and the "Greatest Female Artist of All Time". On April 3, 2012, Michelle Branch performed "Leave the Pieces" with Kelly Clarkson in Los Angeles as part of Clarkson's Stronger Tour. On September 5, the singer premiered a new pop-rock track "Mastermind". In September 2012, Michelle Branch joined Chef Michael Mina as a co-host of Cook Taste Eat, an online cooking show that aims to teach viewers how to cook quality food at home.
As with her release, Everything Comes and Goes, West Coast Time has seen numerous delays for, as yet, unknown reasons. Branch has confirmed on her Twitter account that she knows as much as the fans do about this. In January 2011, Branch confirmed in an interview with Katie Krause from Hollywire.com that the album would be released later that year. On June 1, 2011, Branch announced that the album is called West Coast Time and slated for a September 2011 release date. On December 25, 2012, Branch confirmed that West Coast Time was scheduled for release in Spring 2013, but the album has not yet been released.
2013–present: New record deal and Hopeless Romantic
For much of 2013, Branch wrote songs and moved on from the unreleased West Coast Time. On November 5, 2013, Branch announced that she had started recording a new album in London with Martin Terefe. On February 2, 2014 she confirmed on Twitter that the rest of the album will be recorded in Nashville for a pop-rock sound. In October 2014, she recorded a cover of Radiohead's "Creep" which was subsequently used in an episode of Stalker.
On July 17, 2015, Branch announced that she has signed with Verve Records, a Universal Music Group company.
In May 2016, she appeared on Full Frontal with Samantha Bee to sing "Goodbye Ted Cruz", a reworking of her song "Goodbye To You", as a tongue-in-cheek lament to the suspension of Ted Cruz's U.S. presidential campaign.
In December 2016, Entertainment Weekly announced Branch's new album, Hopeless Romantic, which was released on April 7, 2017.
Musical style and influence
She states that her music has been influenced by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Aerosmith, Lisa Loeb, Joni Mitchell, Queen, Alanis Morissette, Jewel, Fleetwood Mac and Cat Stevens. Also she likes classical music and older country music. Branch mainly uses a Gibson Hummingbird after retiring her blue Taylor 614ce.
Branch married her bass player Teddy Landau in Mexico on May 23, 2004, and gave birth to a girl named Owen on August 3, 2005. Branch separated from Landau in 2014, and their divorce was finalized in November 2015. In 2015 Branch met Patrick Carney of The Black Keys at a Grammy party and the two started dating during the production of Hopeless Romantic. In 2017, Branch and her daughter moved into Carney's home in Nashville.