presented by Kisos and Cory Stewart




As a Black child growing up queer and trans in the Midwest, pop artist Michael Love Michael (pronouns: she/they) didn’t always feel encouraged to be herself. Her emotional sensitivity, effeminate appearance and artistic expression was shunned by those around her, so she retreated into writing and storytelling, and when she finally got a desktop computer at 16, she quietly made songs in her bedroom about her isolation, desperate for a way out of it.

As 2020 yielded a new revolution for marginalized voices, Michael, having broken free of societal restraints, is determined to use hers to call attention to issues affecting the LGBTQ community and beyond. Michael’s musical influences span wildly from M.I.A., Bjork, Interpol, Nine Inch Nails and powerful female acts including Aaliyah, TLC and Madonna, which can all be heard on her 2020 debut album, XO, and a string of singles teasing her upcoming sophomore LP. In 2021, Michael formed a live band to power up her singular sound, called the Lovers, featuring the talents of Reuben Butchart (keys/co-musical direction), guitarists Will Shishmanian and Caroll Prata and drummer Charlotte Kahn, and a rotating cast of background singers.

Michael’s lyrics and messaging hinges on the idea that the personal is one’s most powerful political tool. Michael’s ultimate aim, aside from helping people awaken to social ills so as to address them, is to encourage people everywhere — who’ve been made to feel like who they are isn’t enough — to unlock their voices and raise them to the rafters.