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or 21-year-old Michelle Woolery, singing was as natural as breathing for as long as she could remember. The Brooklyn-bred vocalist has always been a little on the shy side, but that hasn’t stopped her from unleashing Chelley, her club-going, party-hopping altar ego, onto the national scene with the hit song “Took the Night.” The track, with its now ubiquitous lines “Every time I walk in the club/They hatin on me ‘cause they know I look good….I took the night,” has made its way onto radio stations and into clubs all across the country and has become the go-to record to get heads moving and asses on the dance floor. Far from an one-hit wonder, though, Chelley is now ready to unveil her debut album Side B, a playful mix of R&B, hip-hop, house, reggae and slow jams that showcases her diverse influences and wide vocal range.

Growing up in a household dominated by music—Quiet Storm, hip-hop and dance tracks were in steady rotation—it’s easy to see how Chelley became enamored with music so quickly. As a child, the budding vocalist would spend hours each day listening to the music of modern classic singers like Whitney, Mariah and Beyonce and try to emulate them down to the last note. Staring at herself in the mirror each day, Chelley envisioned overcoming her naturally reserved demeanor to rock stages worldwide. Despite her innate ability to pick up instruments—she’s handy with the flute, trumpet, clarinet and sax—it was singing that trumped all else.

In 2007, in her first time in a recording studio, the singer recorded a track called “My Message” that quickly garnered Myspace buzz and the ears of program managers at underground radio station 95.9. To Ricky Blaze, who produced the track and the entirety of Side B, the singer’s ability was obvious from jump, “Chelley’s fusion and diversity will have her standing out huge” remarked Ricky Blaze.

But if “Message” got the buzz, “Took the Night” brought the whole colony. The track, a mix of Baltimore go-go, hip-hop and classic house, is a tale of female empowerment that has resonated across all genders, ages and nationalities. “Being a young female and going out, you’ll see the same type of girl every time and she’s just looking at you funny and jealous because you look good,” says Chelley “We just wanted to capture that and when we heard the end result, we knew it was gonna be a hit.” DJ Enuff, a DJ at New York’s Hot 97 and one of the country’s most influential tastemakers, picked up on the track and began continually playing it on his show. From there, the song spread to clubs around the country and has become that rare piece of music that has morphed from “song” to “anthem.” As big as it is now, the song is still making its way onto new radio stations and clubs every night. “It hasn’t really reached its peak yet,” says Chelley “I want a number one hit and for that song to be the biggest thing in the country.”

To record such a confident and brash track—listen to how the vocals ooze with self-assurance and swagger—Chelley forgets all about Michelle Woolery once she steps inside that booth. “When Rickey [Blaze] turns on the track, it’s a complete difference,” says Chelley. “The shy person is cut off and I’m ready to work. Chelley is the person who wants everyone to know her name and like her music. I did an interview recently and the person was like, ‘Oh my God, you’re so soft-spoken. I didn’t expect that coming from ‘Took the Night.’’”

It’d be disingenuous to say Chelley is “preparing” to hit the road and show crowds what she’s capable of live. She’s been doing it her whole life. For years, the singer has studied vocalists like Beyonce and is ready to contribute her own unique vocal gifts on stage. “She can have the whole crowd singing every song,” says the singer of Beyonce. “That’s what I want. I want them to like everything I put out. Some people are cool with having one hit and having their hood credit. I’m not okay with that.”

To anyone that listens to “Took The Night”, Chelley shouldn’t have to worry about that anytime soon.
view all 21 tracks 21 tracks found
Chelley "Love Sick"
Album: Love Sick
Genres: Dance, Electronic, Pop
Chelley "Took The Night (Victor Palmez & iD Remashedit)"
Album: Took The Night (Victor Palmez & iD Remashmix)
Genres: Dance, Electronic
Moods: Bitchy, Edgy, Rowdy
Chelley "Took The Night (Victor Palmez & iD Remashmix)"
Album: Took The Night (Victor Palmez & iD Remashmix)
Genres: Dance, Electronic
Moods: Bitchy, Edgy, Rowdy
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