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When Michelle first told me about her upbringing, it sounded familiar-ish: New Jersey, piano prodigy, Manhattan School of Music and Northwestern. Knowing Michelle for a total of five minutes, she struck me as an edgy LA downtown chick rather a polished piano player. I had a sense her story took a turn somewhere in her 20s.


On the day of our interview, we met in a large music company conference room. With so many inspiring jazz posters on the walls, I expected the soundtrack to our interview come streaming in. Michelle had lost her voice courtesy of a Music Unites event she had thrown two nights earlier. With some strain, she explained to me that in her 20s the more she became involved with her editorial jobs, the more she felt disconnected from the piano and the music world.


Michelle returned to music in her mid-twenties by founding a global and united music community. Music Unites brings together underserved public school children, indie bands as well as celebrities such as Sting and Swizz Beatz through concerts and mentoring sessions. Swiss Beatz’ work for Music Unites will also be featured in a documentary on the Sundance Channel this fall.


Michelle understands the role of music as a conductor between disparate worlds and microcosms of society. Music for Michelle is about something more powerful and self-revelatory than a perfect orchestra performance, it could be about the sound of your voice in the shower or of the boisterous noise of a child learning to play percussions.


This year, Michelle also founded a second non-profit called the XX Project, an invitation-only monthly speakers group for women who are leaders in their industries. Oh and in her spare time, you could find Michelle diligently practicing at the piano.


Laura is the founder of She decided to create an online community to share those universal 20to30 moments that never made it onto CVs, bios or wikipedia entries.

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