Michele Rene is among the chosen artists for ArtWalk Magazine's Issue 03. Purchase here.
Michele Rene was born and raised in southern California. One of four daughters, she grew up in a household where art and music were celebrated. As a youngster, Michele preferred a sketchbook to baby dolls and completed her first painting around the age of five. In high school, she was chosen to join a group of students who attended a six-week life drawing class at Otis Parsons in Los Angeles. Aside from that course, Michele is considered self-taught. Her work includes some abstract pieces, and a few still-life paintings, but the predominant theme in Michele’s collection is the human form, especially the female figure.
Michele has donated art to charities Comprehensive Childhood Development and Heels for Hearts, as well as the Women’s Business Council for The Long Beach Chamber of Commerce. Her art has been shown in solo and group exhibits in southern California and is on permanent display at Hotel Maya, a Doubletree by Hilton Hotel.
Music was always a constant in Michele’s life. She co-wrote her first pop song in her teens, and the recording landed on college radio, leading to the formation of her first band Marmalade Skies. The 5-piece band recorded “Cecil’s Epitaph” which aired on prime time t.v. show “Felicity.” Meanwhile, the same musicians moonlighted in a 30’s inspired jazz band called “Chatterbox.” Michele would continue to learn old-timey tunes, while also writing originals with long-time music partner, Bobby Bancalari, aka Baroquenoise.
Around this time, famed musician Dave Koval wrote a song for Michele called “Future Pills.” She and Dave formed a band called “Tinseltown” and performed pop covers and his originals. Their recording of The Kinks cover “Father Christmas” got airplay on KROQ’s Rodney Bingenheimer show. Later, Future Pills was played on the Comedy Central’s Roast of Donald Trump, and Late Night with Conan O’Brien’s episode “Conan goes site seeing in London.”
In 2009, Michele auditioned and landed the part for a short rock opera The Ballad of Frank and Cora, written by movie director John Lafia (Child’s Play). The concept for the film was that all dialogue would be sung. After auditioning vocalists for the lead male role, Michele convinced John to sing the part. The two recorded all of the music that John wrote and when it was time to cast the actors, John invited Michele to star in the film. She declined and two actors lip-synced the vocals. The Ballad of Frank and Cora was released in small theaters and received praise among the film festival circuit.
In 2012, Michele was approached by Hellada Gallery owner Marek Dzida, requesting an acoustic duo to entertain every Saturday. She and music partner Bobby Bancalari dusted off the jazzy numbers from Chatterbox and the duo gained popularity. The band became a trio with the addition of upright bassist Gene Whitright of pop-punk band Good Citizen, and The Funny Valentines played at local clubs, galleries, and corporate events.
Marmalade Skies and Tinseltown each disbanded, but Michele continues to write and release music as Michele Rene. All of her music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon.