THE Magic Numbers’ Michele Stodart is touring this autumn in support of her first solo album in seven years, Invitation.
The 19-date itinerary takes in Yorkshire dates at Pocklington Arts Centre on November 2, in a double bill with Hannah White, and Café #9, Sheffield, on November 23.
Born in Trinidad and long based in London, multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter Michele spent her early years surrounded by Caribbean music and culture, until she and her family fled a military coup attempt, leading them to Queens, New York, where she spent a large part of her childhood.
She is best known as bassist, vocalist and co-songwriter of the Mercury-nominated, double platinum-selling Magic Numbers, who have released five studio albums, played multiple headline tours and supported Neil Young, Radiohead, Brian Wilson, U2, Flaming Lips and Bright Eyes. She continues to play with the band, touring worldwide.
Alongside this, Michele has pursued her own writing and nurtured a love for folk/Americana artists such as Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch.
She started writing songs in her early teens as a way to process and tell stories from her experiences. She would hide away to write songs, rarely playing them in public.
After Michele gave birth to her daughter, older brother, Romeo (frontman of The Magic Numbers), encouraged her to record and release an album of her own songs. This resulted in her first solo outing, 2012’s Wide-Eyed Crossing, a Southern-drenched journey into Americana country blues.
“I never thought I’d release a solo album, but I needed closure from those songs, so recording them was the only way to truly move on”, she said at the time.
From this point, Michele began playing solo shows and tours. She soon became known for her intimate, passionate and heart-wrenching live performances, helping to establish her as a singer-songwriter in her own right.
Signed by One Little Independent, Michele’s second solo set, Pieces, emerged in 2016: a confessional, melodic country/roots album with an orchestral, cinematic feel.
Over recent years, she has divided her time between her work with The Magic Numbers and her solo projects. In between recording and touring, she has been building a name for herself as a musical director, collaborator and producer too.
She has been invited to curate stages at festivals and events, as well as promoting regular nights at Camden’s legendary Green Note. She continues to champion women in music and gender equality within the industry and combines curating, directing and performing in an annual series of multi-artist shows celebrating International Women’s Day.
Her skills as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist have led to collaborative projects on stage and in the studio with Kathryn Williams, Billy Bragg, David Ford, Bernard Butler, Natalie Imbruglia, Ren Harvieu, Julian Taylor, Charlie Dore, David Kitt, Hannah White, Rachel Sermanni, Emily Barker, Diana Jones and O’Hooley & Tidow, among others.
In 2019, Michele graced the silver screen in the Danny Boyle/Richard Curtis film Yesterday, chosen to appear on account of her melodic bass playing and electric, enigmatic stage presence.
Working alongside Boyle, Curtis and musical composer Daniel Pemberton, Michele’s bass and vocals are featured on the Abbey Road Studios movie soundtrack, reinterpreting The Beatles’ most beloved hits.
In 2022, she was awarded the UK Americana Awards’ Instrumentalist of the Year Award. In January 2023, she was invited back as musical director at the awards, where she led the all-female house band and played with The Waterboys’ Mike Scott, Allison Russell and Lifetime Achievement Award winner Judy Collins, who took a moment on stage to compliment Michele on her “incredible” talent.
Invitation, her third studio album, arrived on September 15 on the Keepsake Recordings label, written, arranged and produced by Michele, with additional production from long-standing collaborator Dave Izumi Lynch.
The album was recorded at Echo Zoo Studios and features Michele on vocals, guitars, bass and percussion, as well as contributions from brother Romeo on piano, Andy Bruce on piano, Alice Phelps on harp, Will Harvey on violin and viola, CJ Jones on drums, Nick Pini on double bass, Joe Harvey-Whyte on pedal steel and Izumi Lynch on synths.
“Invitation is an intimate, personal record, with songs that touch on themes of motherhood, relationships, mental health, transformation, endings and new beginnings,” says Michele.
“It comes from a place of inviting in the darkness, the hard times, the sadness, anger, loss, love and grief… all of the unknown feelings that get woken up inside you. To practise staying with them, no matter how uncomfortable. To understand that they are there to guide you.
“I believe that it’s in the learning and listening that we can transform, grow, stay conscious and wholeheartedly true, open, honest with ourselves and others. Words are a powerful resource and we can choose to use them to connect deeply with one another. Songwriting has always been my way of trying to do just that, and I hope this album ‘invites’ us to reach out together.”
The album artwork and illustrations of the crow, drawn by Joni Belaruski, symbolise key themes: the crow represents transformation, change and freedom.
First single Tell Me touches on themes of cheating, heartbreak and yearning, with the song retaining a sense of rawness and immediacy both musically and lyrically. “I wanted to write a song set in the heat of a moment,” says Michele. “A brave, one-sided conversation between the truth and lies in a relationship. This is a song about a love affair in denial, hiding behind a sense of control and composure”.
In her double bill at Pocklington – where she has played on more than one occasion with The Magic Numbers – both Michele and Hannah White will be promoting new albums. Co-produced by Michele, Hannah’s Sweet Revolution will be released via The Last Music Company on November 3 in the wake of the south Londoner’s autobiographical song Car Crash winning UK Song of the Year at the 2023 UK Americana Awards.
Tickets for their 8pm gig are on sale on 01759 301547 and at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk; for Michele’s Sheffield show, cafe9sheffield.co.uk or wegottickets.com/Cafe9.