Singer/songwriter Michele on a very hot day at the playground on Greenpoint Avenue

This little hipster lured Michele to Sunnyside… (courtesy Michele Riganese)

“I always focus on my [own] feelings, but I find the stuff that’s really simple and raw is what people really connect with.”

If it wasn’t for Chili, her little Pomeranian, singer-songwriter Michele Riganese may have never moved to Sunnyside. Chili came with a certificate for three free visits to a vet in Sunnyside, and while Michele first thought, “Where the heck is this place?” she quickly fell in love with it. She moved from Gramercy Park to a “gorgeous apartment” in Sunnyside eight years ago. Here she found the sense of community her old neighborhood lacked. “You can rely on your neighbors for this cup of sugar,” she says. Besides the new apartment came with “a fantastic hallway, really bouncy with sound that feeds inspiration for me.”

Michele’s music is inspired by current events, her own relationships and those of others. A performer since she was seven, she likes to create heartfelt, melancholy songs infused with hope. “I always focus on my [own] feelings,” she says, “but I find the stuff that’s really simple and raw is what people really connect with. I don’t worry too much about being global or universal.”

Michele’s career as a child actress took her to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows. It wasn’t until college that she found her real passion and decided to dedicate herself exclusively to music. To her, making money is secondary. She volunteers with Musicians on Call, a nonprofit who sends musicians to care facilities, and intends to donate half of the money she makes through her crowd-funding project at Rockethub to BARC, an animal shelter in Williamsburg. Michele supports her career as a singer/songwriter by doing voice-overs and writing songs for weddings; she doesn’t want a nine-to-five job. “Unless it is something that feeds my soul, it’s tearing me away from music, which is my gift and the very reason why I am here,” she says.

Michele has live performances scheduled at the LIC Bar on August 30, 2010 and at the Sidewalk Café in Manhattan on September 5, 2010.

In the podcast Michele talks about what is involved in being a singer/songwriter.

Listen to Michele’s interview