by MK Scott
When I first met Nora Michaels in the mid-90’s, I had no clue who she was, and her impact on her audience. I saw her perform as Edith Piaf at Portland’s Key Largo in 1995 and had no idea she would still be in my life, 24 years later. It was a year ago when I attended her 70th birthday gig at the Highway 99 Blues Club, when I really got to know her and her contributions to Seattle’s music scene and as ally to the LGBTQ community. On December 28th, Michaels returns to 99 Blues for her Blue Lullaby CD release show and 71st birthday party to celebrate being a year older!
I chatted with her by email this week.
MK Scott: Hi Nora! Happy Birthday! This has been quite a year for you and now you celebrate your 71st birthday next Friday, December 28th with a concert at Highway 99 Blues Club. What can we expect from this show?
Nora Michaels: First of all…Thank you for your support. I am very grateful to sing, record and perform. All those singing lessons and gigs paid off! 2018 has been quite a year indeed. Out with the Old and in with the Older. 71! Amazing!
MK: Will you be performing some of your classics like ‘Dr. Long John,’ the hilarious ‘Cleaning Blues’ and, of course, your Edith Piaf medley?
NM: At the 12/28/18 Highway 99 Blues Club show there will be Blues and Jazz Standards, with my Special Guest legendary saxman Lonnie J. Williams. Double entendre Blues has always been my specialty. My Original ‘Cleaning Blues’ as well as ‘Dr. Long John’ from Dinah Washington are on the set list for sure. Les Chansons of Edith Piaf are also a great love of mine. Edith would be right at home at Highway 99 Blues Club, with her laments of love lost and drinking the Blues away. My Hommage CD to Piaf is also available at the show.
MK: You have a new CD out called Blue Lullaby. What are you most proud of with this CD?
NM: I began recording my new CD Blue Lullaby in February (2018). Lots of delays were frustrating, but my bandmates and my recording engineer, Steve Feasley, kept my spirits high. This is a true collaborative effort. Blue Lullaby is my first ever solo, self-produced CD project. I have been featured on other artists’ CDs. I always had partners on those projects. It has been a lifelong dream to have a CD of my very own. It reflects my 50 years of singing professionally. And it also features the songs of longtime friends like Sam Weis, Duffy Bishop, Chris Carlson and Nancy K Dillon, who lent me their glorious tunes to wrap my lips around. I sing all the songs every day for inspiration and meditation. I love them all equally. There has been an overwhelming response to Blue Lullaby. I sold out the first run and had to order more! Very gratifying for this Blues Chanteuse.
MK: What is coming up in 2019?
NM: Next year I plan to create an Audio Book of my Life. Why live it if i can’t tell the stories? I toured with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins after cleaning his motel room in San Francisco. I escaped when he tried to shoot me. That episode is documented in the film Georgia starring Jennifer Jason Leigh. I did a USO tour where I sang at Berchtesgaden in Germany at the nightclub built for Hitler as well as the Malt Shop-themed Bar decorated by Private Elvis Presley. Singing has been and continues to be my Life.
On a sad note, Highway 99 is closing 1/1/19. This is a direct result of the Viaduct coming down. It’s a great venue and a great loss for Seattle. I am honored to be one of the final shows there.
Inviting everyone to come celebrate. Old Chicks still rock…then recline!
Tickets to Nora Michaels’ 12/28 Blue Lullaby CD release party and 71st Birthday Celebration are $17 and $27 VIP. The show is at 8pm and the Highway 99 Blues Club is located at 1414 Alaskan Way between Pike and Union Sts. in downtown Seattle. Tickets/reservations and more information are available by phone (206) 382-2171 or visit www.highway99blues.com. For a review of Blue Lullaby, visit www.northwestmusicscene.com.
To read the tribute to the iconic Highway 99 Blues Club that the Seattle Times recently published, visit https://www.seattletimes.com/entertainment/music/highway-99-blues-club-seattles-home-of-the-blues-closing-at-end-of-year/