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The Voice – Michelle Chamuel

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michelleIt’s the final three on The Voice, and the voters (or the producers) have made sure that the minorities are represented: Danielle Bradbury is young, The Swon Brothers are men (a minority in this show), and Michelle Chamuel is queer. While the first two  contestants are obvious with their minority representations, Chamuel’s is not—for good reason. At a time when votes are crucial, she doesn’t need an outside reason to hurt her chances at winning. In this discreet way, queer voters can make note of her representation, while the rest of the audience can just focus on her badass stage presence.

Don’t worry, I haven’t let the unwanted cat out of the bag. Chamuel’s been out since an AfterEllen interview for her band Ella Riot (then called My Dear Disco) back in 2010, for their entry into the music festival Lollapalooza. It makes sense that she’s not explicitly out on The Voice, since she doesn’t think of herself a queer musician:

“I don’t think of myself as ‘a lesbian musician’ or a ‘Jewish artist,’” she told AfterEllen, “It’s not one and alone. I think of myself as a musician. I’m not into labels, which makes it so that I don’t live by them anyway, so I’m not trying to fit into a category. I think people should do whatever they want.”

Rather than focusing on her sexuality, she focuses on her extraordinary stage presence. Chamuel kicks her legs, pumps her fists, skips around stage, and, her signature, squats with one outstretched arm while hitting a particularly strong note. Coach Blake Shelton commented on Monday about the “power of the squatting… As if you didn’t know that the notes she’s hittin’ are awesome, I’m gonna squat to prove it to you.” Her talent at the stage was obvious during her audition, with Katy Perry’s “I Kissed A Girl,” (an appropriate queer song!) but it most certainly improved after working with Usher. I mean, did you see his opening act this week with “Twisted”? His superiority at the stage is unquestionable compared to Shelton and Adam Levine. Shakira can put on a mean show, but her type of performance—all hips and seduction—probably wouldn’t be a good fit for Chamuel’s style.

With the final three, each has his or her main advantage, in addition to their exceptional singing. Chamuel rocks a great performance, and she engages with the audience in an explosive way. Bradbury only has to keep up with her peers, and her unbelievable age automatically makes her singing ten times more impressive. And, of course, the Swon Brothers have the advantage of creating their own harmonies, plus playing instruments in every performance. There are no ordinary singers here. Now, it’s up to the voters (or “America” as Carson Daly calls them) to decide which skillset is the most valuable—or, more accurately, which skillset is the least valuable, and which person will go home next week.

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About Brigid Choi

Brigid Choi is an English Major, Music Minor at Emory University. She has been published in Emory's fiction literary magazine, The Emory Pulse, as well as Emory's music magazine, Frequency. Outside of publication, she leads EmRock, Emory's only rock music organization. Outside of Emory, she interns at Beatlefan.
  • Notafanofyou

    Queer? Asshole terminology.

    • lynn lpollard1981@wowway.com

      This author is rude, disgraceful and intent on hurting Michelle by her finger pointing under the guise of writing art. Last I heard, also, Caucasian men are not minorities…that was a stupid stretch. I have much worse names for Choi…think I’ll write a blog about her!!!!

      • Pam

        I feel like your reading comprehension skills could use a little bit of work.
        1. “This author is rude, disgraceful and intent on hurting Michelle by her finger pointing under the guise of writing art”… Care to cite me one point in the article where she did ANY of this? She mentioned that the artist identifies as queer in a non-derogatory fashion and then goes on to praise her musical prowess. Did you even read the article? She is a big fan!

        2. “Caucasian men are not minorities”… http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/context Do I really even have to go into this? No, Caucasian men are not a minority in our society. HOWEVER, they make up a relatively small portion of the contestants on the voice.

        I’m actually amazed that you managed to get offended by this article.

  • AnotherNotaFan

    Where does one draw the line of respect and privacy? Because someone is “out” doesn’t mean it’s license for others to shout it to the world. You’re opening people up a person judgment for something other than what they’re trying to accomplish. Take this down.

    • NIcki

      I agree…we don’t ask each person on one of these shows to state their sexual preference, that is individual, private, and not anyone’s business.

  • I’ve not heard the term “queer” used to describe somebody’s sexuality for a long time and it sounds disrespectful and rude…

    • Rob Knaggs

      There has actually been a movement to reappropriate the word, although not everyone in the LGBT community is comfortable with the idea.

      I don’t know whether Brigid’s use of the word throughout her article was discussed with her by whoever edited it, but she doesn’t appear to be using it as an epithet or in an abusive manner.

      • I haven’t heard that before, Rob, so thanks for the heads up. I guess if so that makes “queer” the “nigga” of the LGBT world..?

        • Rob Knaggs

          It’s closely analogous, yes. 🙂

  • Mandy

    Honestly i knew she was gay the moment i saw her she looks like a man and dresses like one

    • NIcki

      I thought she was lovely from the moment I saw her. Just because she doesn’t try to dress like a pageant contestant or exotic dancer doesn’t make Michelle Chamuel manly. If you saw her walk down the street you would not think she looked like a “man.”

  • Ed

    The author writes: “Rather than focusing on her sexuality, she focuses on her extraordinary stage presence.” Given the two choices “sexuality” versus “stage presence”, the author thinks “sexuality” is more important in a singing competition. Amazing logic !

    • J

      I have no clue where you are finding this reasoning?? Obviously she values the “badass” and “extraordinary stage presence” more if you read the article better. And really, it’s Michelle’s choice – she chooses to focus on her performance rather than her labels which is why that sentence was in there.

      • Ed

        “for good reason”, “unwanted cat”, “Rather than”, hate speech.

  • Debbie

    The word “queer” was used because it is the preferred word to be used to Michelle Chamuel! She even used it many times in her after show interview with “Ellen”