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Learning English Through Music: Michelle Branch

Learning English Through Music: Michelle Branch

Learn English by reading and listening to the article. Then open the activities on the right side of the page. Skill Level: BEGINNER

Michelle Branch has been writing music since she was 14 years old. That was the same year she received a guitar for her birthday. Her big break came a year later when her best friend called with an urgent request.

"She called me, said 'you have to get down here and bring a tape or meet this guy because he's going to be leaving soon.' [I] said, well I can't get down there. She said, 'do you have... just walk, ride your bike, anything.' My neighbors had left their golf cart out in the driveway with the key in it. And so I took the golf cart and I went down and I was waiting as this guy was leaving. I was like 'excuse me, mister, will you listen to my tape?' And he was just horrified. But he - on the long drive home back from Arizona to L.A., he put it [the tape on] in the car and he ended up calling me."

Maverick Records released her first compact disc, "The Spirit Room," in 2001. The CD produced three hit singles, including the Top 20 Hit "Everywhere."

A short time later, Michelle won a Grammy Award for her work with Carlos Santana in the song "The Game of Love." In 2005 she successfully made the move to country music, teaming up with Jessica Harp as the Wreckers.

Now Michelle has returned to pop music. But she still sings about her country experience in her new CD, "West Coast Time."

"I had a country band called The Wreckers for a while and I moved to Nashville, and it's, it's sort of a song about my time spent there and how I always felt kind of a little bit different because, you know, everyone had their southern upbringing there and I was raised on the west coast and had an upbringing of a little bit of country music but a lot of rock and roll."

Michelle had established herself as a star with her first two albums. So the big question was, "why do a country album at all?"

"I grew up listening to older country music -- Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash and those greats. And I just always loved the storytelling aspect and where the lyrics came from. And so that was, that was something that I was really drawn to and it just felt too special to turn our back on."
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Michelle's life has changed a lot since then, and so has her music.

"The writing has changed a lot because my last pop album was released almost eight years ago and I'm married and a mother now and I think a lot has changed. I've seen a lot of the world so my perspective lyrically has changed a lot. I think the songwriting is classic Michelle but there is some definitely new modern sounds."

Michelle is a simple, yet creative young woman. One example is her choice of tattoos.

"Well I thought because most people get something really meaningful written in cursive on their wrists and I thought from far away it just looks like something meaningful, beautiful. And I have a little bit of a goofy sense of humor so I thought well it'd be funny if people ask me what it is. But, yeah I had Kellie Pickler walk up to me and she said 'oh, I love your tattoos! Look at mine. Mine say, peace and love or hope and faith or something.' And she goes 'what do yours say?' I said ... right and left... and it just was awkward."

When Michelle is not making music or performing, she likes to use social media to communicate.

"I tweet, kind of - it's kind of a problem. My daughter is like 'mom, are you on Twitter again?' I really have a great relationship with a lot of people on Twitter so it's a fun way to request songs or you know, reach out."

Michelle says she is looking forward to hearing from fans about her new CD and sharing her new sound and ideas with people around the world. I'm Christopher Cruise.