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From Trinidad Guardian, July 2008

Ocean Inspires Mother’s Kids’ Album

By Teishan Dixon
Trinidad Guardian
Published July 27, 2008

It is not unusual for mothers to sing to their children. But for Bridgette Michaels, singing to her three-year-old one day proved to be the doorway to a musical career.

The 36-year-old Michaels, an online tutor for the USA-based University of Maryland, was playing the guitar and singing to her older daughter Danah, one day, when her daughter put her on the spot.

“My husband and I often sit around with our two daughters and sing songs and play the guitar. One day, while I was playing the guitar, my daughter Danah asked me to sing a song called the ‘bobbing lobbing jellyfish’ song so I made up a song about a jellyfish on the spot.”

Danah was so taken with the song that Michaels decided it would be a good idea to write more of them for her.

She eventually took her songs to Danah’s pre-school. The songs were such a hit with the toddlers that Michaels decided to create a collection of her original songs to sell to parents with pre-school children.

Michaels and husband Brian went out and bought studio equipment and Brian taught himself how to use it. Every night, as their daughters slept, the two recorded songs from their living room.

“We certainly had a lot of fun with that,” she said, laughing. “It was a nice way to relax, a great use of down-time. It actually brought Brian and I closer together, since it was something we both enjoyed doing so much. It was like having our night out, our own little getaway right at home.”

The CD By the Sea was born featuring songs written the Michaels.

“My husband and I came up with the title since the music on the CD was also inspired by the ocean, we thought it would be a fun, catchy name.”

Love for ocean

The Jamaica-born mother of two, who holds a PhD in oceanography from the University of Miami, said her love for the ocean began when she was three years old and began to fish and swim.

Born to a Trinidadian mother and Jamaican father, Michaels, the last of four children, lived in Jamaica until 1976 when she and her family moved to Trinidad when she was just four.

“At that time, Michael Manley led the then-government, and he was becoming heavily influenced by Fidel Castro,” explained Michaels. “Talks of communism were in the air, and my mother convinced my father to move to Trinidad.”

Later, during her teen years, Michaels’ father taught her to play the guitar. Then she began performing with her church choir and later with a band at her alma mater, St Joseph’s Convent.

As Michaels grew older, she realised that she would need something more substantial than a musical dreams to earn a living and turned to her other love — the ocean.

“I attended the University of the West Indies before leaving to study my major of choice, oceanography, at the Universit of Miami,” she said. “While at UWI, I was actually approached by a representative of Amar Studios who offered me a record deal, but I had already applied to graduate school abroad, so I decided to take that path instead.”

Giving back

Having already enjoyed reasonable success from CD sales with By the Sea, Michaels and her husband have decided to share the profits they receive from sales with the less fortunate.

“At the end of the year, we plan to choose one local charity here to give five per cent of the profits from the CD and another five per cent to a charity in Anapolis, North Dakota, where we reside.

“We would particularly like to give to charities that children benefit from.”

Asked whether she would ever consider putting an adult music album together Michaels says the thought did cross her mind.

“A lot of people who bought my records for their children gave me positive feedback concerning my voice, and suggested that I do adult songs.

“However, the adult music industry is a lot harder to break in to, so for now, I’ll stick to children’s music, but in about a year or two, I’d like very much to get into adult music if I can.”

Among her other goals, Michaels lists a possible agreement for her records to be used at local pre-schools, and a second album of children’s songs.

“I plan, by year’s end, to do another album with children’s music. Since the theme for my current album is the ocean, the upcoming one might be about the land. One thing that can be expected is that the music will be heavily influenced by the island.”

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