“Music has always been in me. When I sing, I have a sense of peace, I feel like my brain turns off and I become the core person of who I am; the essence of me. I feel connected to whatever is out there. It’s almost like I leave my body and get to watch.” Michelle Branch
Michelle Branch rose to prominence with her platinum albums The Spirit Room (2001) and Hotel Paper (2003). Single “Everywhere,” from her 2001 album, won a Grammy Award and an MTV Video Music Award. Branch also netted a Grammy Award and received a Grammy nomination after collaborating with legend Carlos Santana in “The Game of Love” (2002). In addition, she produced a number of chart-breaking singles, including “Goodbye To You” (2001) and the Grammy-nominated “Are You Happy Now?” (2003). The big fan of Patty Griffin, Aimee Mann and Lisa Loeb, Michelle is a talented musician who aptly plays cello, guitar, accordion, drums and piano.
Off screen, the 20th person on the 2004 Maxim’s “Top 100 list,” Branch triggered controversy by posing topless for the cover of the January 2004 issue of Maxim magazine. She also now has her own line of lipstick and nail polish at Flirt Cosmetics.
As for her private life, the owner of cats named Gibson and Winky is currently the wife of Teddy Landau, the bass player of her band, and also the mother of a daughter. Branch, who customized her wedding dress, had already bought a house in Hollywood, with Landau, before they were married.
Childhood and Family:
In Phoenix, Arizona, Michelle Branch was born Michelle Jacquet DeSevren Branch on July 2, 1983. The second daughter of David and Peggy, Michelle has Irish lineage on her father’s side and Dutch-Indonesian and French on her mother’s side. Michelle, who has the nickname “Meech” and “Chelle,” was raised in Flagstaff, Arizona, with her siblings David and Nicole. The family moved to Sedona, Arizona, when she was eleven.
3-year-old Meech, who had a genetic flair in music, recorded her karaoke singing and sent it to her grandmother. She took singing lessons at the age of eight and began guitar lessons when she was fifteen. Michelle quit Red Rock High School and participated in home school. She later took private voice lessons at Northern Arizona University.
Michelle formed a romantic relationship with the bass player of her band, Teddy Landau (born in 1964), who has been touring with her since May 2003. A year later, they married and on August 3, 2005, Michelle gave birth to a daughter named Owen Isabelle Landau, in Los Angeles.
The Game of Love
Young Michelle Branch found her golden opportunity for a music career after music manager Jeff Rabhan listened to her demo tape. Several months later, she received a phone call from Rabhan signing her in the company. It led Branch to her first recording, the independent album Broken Bracelet (2000).
The same year, she performed in California with the Hanson band. The major label Maverick Records offered her a record deal and soon she worked on her first major album, The Spirit Room. Launched in 2001, the recording gained platinum certification from RIAA and climbed up to the 28th position in US by selling over one million copies. Its single “Everywhere” reached No. 12 on the US Hot 100 and even topped some of the Asian charts. “Everywhere,” which was one of the soundtracks for the movie American Pie 2 (2001), was handed a Grammy and an MTV Video Music for Viewer’s Choice. The album also set off such Top 20 tracks as “All You Wanted” and “Goodbye To You.”
Before long, Branch was busy providing soundtracks and theme songs for TV series “Sorority Life” (2002) and “Birds of Prey” (2002), as well as for motion pictures Girl Fever (2002) and The Hot Chick (2002). In the latter movie, the young performer also explored the realm of acting and landed a small part as Instant Tang DJ. In addition, she played Lesley Gore in the musical drama series “American Dreams” (2002).
Branch’s second breakthrough in music arrived when the legendary Carlos Santana asked her to collaborate with him in the song “The Game of Love” (2002), for his comeback album, Shaman (2002). The catchy track soon accepted commercial and critical recognition and received a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration With Vocals (shared with Santana), as well as became a leader on US and overseas charts. Branch was also nominated for Grammy’s Best New Artist. Still recording soundtracks, Branch sang “You Set Me Free” for Just Married (2003) and “You Get Me” for What a Girl Wants (2003).
Branch followed her simultaneous triumph with the studio album titled Hotel Paper (2003). Selling more than 150,000 copies in its first week, the album became the second best album in the US and went platinum. Its singles “Are You Happy Now?” and “Breathe” were Top 40 hits in the US. For “Are You Happy Now,” Branch was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, whereas “Breathe” was made a soundtrack for the teen romantic comedy The Prince & Me (2004). Other tracks such as “One Of These Days” and “Til I Get Over You” failed to make the charts.
Detouring to the country genre, Branch worked with country singer and longtime friend Jessica Harp. They formed a group called The Wreckers, and in July 2005, launched their first album titled Stand Still, Look Pretty. Combining Branch’s pop-rock music with Harp’s country-folk style, the album became the 14th album on the US charts. The recording featured the track “The Good Kind,” an original soundtrack for the teen drama series “One Tree Hill.” The second hit single, “Leave the Pieces,” was released in March 2006 and quickly raced to No. 29 on Billboard’s Hot Country chart. Still in 2006, Branch and The Wreckers teamed up with Santana for “I’m Feeling You,” a Top 40 track.