KMichelle is ready for the close-up of her land. The former R&B artist and reality star is embracing her Southern roots with a new album, a new name and a CMA Awards collaboration with the night’s Best New Artist winner jellyroll.
The Memphis native released her first country song “Tennessee” under the pseudonym Puddin. It’s the debut single from her upcoming country album – a move that seems completely natural for the star.
“It’s a part of me,” the 41-year-old singer said exclusively Us weekly ahead of the 2023 CMA Awards on Wednesday, November 8th. “It’s so crazy when I talk to people and they ask, ‘How’s this transition going?'” There’s no transition, let’s be honest. This is who I am. This is how I was born; That’s how I was raised.”
K Michelle (real name Kimberly Michelle Pate) made her Music City debut on country music’s biggest stage Wednesday night, performing a rousing performance of The Judds’ “Love Can Build a Bridge” with Jelly Roll. The musician, who also plays the song on the recently released album alongside Jelly and the Fisk Jubilee Singers, has come full circle A tribute to the Judds.
“The first country I came to was the Judds,” she said. “The first tape I ever got was The Judds and it was ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’.”
For K Michelle, being on stage with Jelly Roll is part of the musical family.
“This is my outlaw brother. I understand him,” she shared. “We are unusual suspects in country music. I know his whole journey, his struggle. We are open books. We push through, we do what we want, but most importantly we love the music. The best thing is that we have mutual respect for each other [this pairing] was a match made in heaven.”
The performance was a stunning tribute to musical matriarch Naomi Judd, who passed away in 2022. With a crowd that included Judd’s daughter and bandmate Wynonna, K Michelle joined Jelly Roll to sing one of The Judd’s most memorable hits.
As he took the stage wearing feathers and rhinestones, it was easy to imagine the former R&B artist as a country star. Her powerful adlibs brought the audience to a standing ovation before the end of the performance. It was a moment full of emotions for the performers and the audience alike.
“For me, country music has always been about storytelling and the feeling that comes with it. “How it feels,” she says, adding, “I’m so blessed and so excited to honor Naomi.”
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