Michelle Cowan on American Idol, Will Smith, and true love

Compared to Sarah McLaughlin, Ani DiFranco, songwriter performs, chats live with fans.

 Photo: Trish Badger

HOUSTON, April 29, 2012 – Michelle Cowan is blessed with a soaring, crystal clear voice and a passionate flair for songwriting. Her lyrics are introspective, her piano arrangements dynamic, and her guitar compositions folksy yet modern.

During a Tuesday, April 3 apperance Cowan’s performance was frequently and delightfully punctuated by questions taken directly from the audience. Airing live for approximately 80 minutes, the concert was captured by Spreecast, an online interactive webcasting platform that enabled attendees watching Cowan’s concert to chat in real time, while interacting with SeeTalkGrow.  The audience was able to submit interview questions for the Cown to answer during this interactive broadcast.

Between questions Cowan performed an entertaining selection of her own original compositions, evoking responses such as “Clap! Clap! Clap!” and “Beautiful!” in the chat feed from her live audience.

Among other topics, Cowan shared the story of her own experience trying out as a vocalist for several reality television shows like American Idol and The Voice. She noted that while reality TV docu-dramas do often showcase talented singers, what the judges look for above all else (particularly in the early stages) are characters needed to fill certain demographics. In order to have a cast with a broad appeal, producers will select contestants based on superficial qualities such as ethnicity, clothing style, gender, and physical appearance. Even contestants such as Susan Boyle and Jonathan Antoine are actually pristine examples of reality TV’s formulaic underdogs.

And this is no secret. The Daily Beast recently highlighted the trend in its rundown of reality television’s “most overused, egregious, and clichéd stock characters.”

“I think what people forget is they’re not just looking for the best singers,” Cowan explained. “They audition so many people. When I went to audition for The Voice, they brought ten of us into the judge. We had one judge. I swear, there were about four other women there who were as good as me or better and he didn’t comment about one of them. But he did make a comment about a guy that wasn’t very good, but was definitely a certain type. People forget that they’re casting for a show. They’re looking for different demographics and they need a big enough collection of each type to make the show work. Plus, they have to be able to tell a story.”

While she may not fit the reality TV mold of the Southern belle, the tattooed rocker chick, or the obese songbird, Cowan boasts a voice that would shine among the greatest of the greats at any Lilith Fair concert.

Sadly though, while we do live in the age of the digital revolution, the arts don’t usually pay a musician’s rent, let alone cover grocery bills or gas money. So like most independent musicians, Cowan does not derive her sole income from her music. Taking up her pen (which is indeed mightier than the sword), she works as a freelance writer and editor. In fact, you can enjoy some of Cowan’s writing on her blog.

And Cowan doesn’t stop at promoting or supporting her own music career. She reaches out and uses innovative methods to buzz her musical buddies. Recently, she launched a concert series entitled Mi’Show, which highlights talented local artists in a variety show format and compensates performers by taking in attendee donations.

You can find Cowan’s music, concert schedule, and writings at www.MichelleCowanOnline.com. You can also find her on Facebook and YouTube. To hear Cowan’s live SeeTalkGrow showcase and interview and her hysterically funny song inspiration story that involves actor and rapper Will Smith, click the video player below.

Michelle Cowan’s SeeTalkGrow Showcase:


Michelle Cowan’s Links:

Official Website
Upcoming Concerts

About Jennifer Grassman:

 Singer, songwriter and pianist, Jennifer Grassman is an award-winning recording artist and founder of SeeTalkGrow, a 100% online music, film, technology, and communications conference. Subscribe by RSS feed and read more at www.JenniferGrassman.com or www.SeeTalkGrow.com. Follow Jennifer in this column and at her music column, The Business of Being Diva here in Washington Times Communities. Also keep in touch via @JGrassman@SeeTalkGrow, and likeFacebook.com/JenniferGrassmanMusic and Facebook.com/SeeTalkGrow.


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Jennifer Grassman

Jennifer Grassman is a singer, songstress and pianist who inadvertently became a music industry trailblazer in the wake of the digital revolution. In addition to penning her quirky music industry column, "The Business of Being Diva," Jennifer writes songs and performs concert tours. Jennifer’s accomplishments include being nominated Houston’s best female vocalist and best songwriter and was named best keyboardist in the 2010 Houston Press Music Awards. She assisted in a campaign that raised more than $100,000 for CrimeStoppers and was commended by musician Tori Amos for her charitable efforts on behalf of domestic-abuse victims.  Jennifer has released three CDs, the most recent of which, "Serpent Tales & Nightingales," received accolades from Christianity Today, the Houston Chronicle and Brian Ray and the guitarist of Paul McCartney's band. You can check out Jennifer’s music at www.JenniferGrassman.com, like her on Facebook and tweet her at www.Twitter.com/JGrassman.

Contact Jennifer Grassman


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