Chrisette Michele takes a back seat on new CD

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NEW YORK — For a singer who crafted most of the lyrics on her debut CD, Chrisette Michele found it hard to let someone else write the tunes for her sophomore release.

NEW YORK  — For a singer who crafted most of the lyrics on her debut CD, Chrisette Michele found it hard to let someone else write the tunes for her sophomore release. But when that songwriter is Ne-Yo — a Grammy-winning singer who has also penned No. 1 hits for Beyonce, Rihanna and Jennifer Hudson — making the transition was slightly eased. "I’m one of those girls who came from (saying), ‘You don’t know a C-minor seven chord? You’re not a real musician!’" said Michele, whose new album "Epiphany" was released this week. "So for me to say to somebody humbly … ‘Here’s a pen, write me a song please,’ it’s like ‘Whoa, who is this philistine?’ I don’t know who this is!" Ne-Yo executive produced the new CD and co-wrote six songs; Michele co-wrote three of the 12 tracks. "I love working with people that are humble enough to accept constructive criticism; I like working with people whose egos aren’t so big that they can’t see past their own vision," said Ne-Yo. "She came in with an open mind, willing to try something that may have been a little foreign to her." When the soul songstress debuted in 2007 with the CD "I Am," she drew comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday because of her jazzy tone and powerful vocals. However, the 26-year-old says Ne-Yo taught her singing methods that were more radio friendly. "I’m a riff-aholic," she said about the many ad-libs she usually sings on her songs. "But Ne-Yo knows how to just say it and let it be so, and you experience it because he said it, not because he added anything or put anything around it, but because it came from the bottom of his heart." The album’s first single, "Epiphany (I’m Leaving)," is a mid-tempo jam about getting over a boyfriend. Other tunes on the album show the singer’s more vulnerable side, like the newest single, "Blame It On Me," where she allows her ex to call her "a liar, cheater, whatever you want" just to end the relationship and "On My Own," a song about Michele’s growth from daddy’s little girl to independent woman. "There were times I went through stuff and I would dial the number and hand my dad the phone, and be like, ‘Dad, handle this because he is bugging.’ And my father would handle it and it would be over," she said. "So for me to sing a song where I’m saying on my own, ‘I can’t let you in’ now to my dad, there were definitely tears in the studio." The singer got a boost earlier this year when she picked up a Grammy award for the song "Be OK" featuring will.i.am. She said the new disc will connect with more people because the songs came from "the bottom of her heart." "I began to become really, really honest, and almost scared because I was like, ‘Oh my God, people are going to see me.’ There’s no showoff riff to make this sound like I haven’t been through something that hurts. This is plain pain, and you’re going to feel it when I sing it," she said. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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