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Chamuel to talk about creative process in local benefit

Michelle Chamuel cheers with her friends and fans in front of Woodstar Cafe in Northampton during an interview. Chamuel returned to Northampton for a visit on June 6, 2013. She is a finalist on the television singing competition, The Voice.

GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Michelle Chamuel cheers with her friends and fans in front of Woodstar Cafe in Northampton during an interview. Chamuel returned to Northampton for a visit on June 6, 2013. She is a finalist on the television singing competition, The Voice. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

This is why the 27-year-old Amherst resident, who was named runner-up on the NBC hit show “The Voice” last spring, will be volunteering her time to speak about her creative process at a benefit Saturday for Voices from Inside, a Florence organization that provides writing workshops and leadership training to women in Hampshire and Hampden counties who are jailed or have been in jail.

“We focus on this idea of helping them develop a sense that they have a voice that is a legitimate and powerful tool,” said Alisa Klein, board member of Voices from Inside. “Michelle just kind of personified that skill.”

Run by an all-volunteer board of directors, Voices from Inside was founded in 1999 by Carolyn Benson and Sara Weinberger as an offshoot of Amherst Writers & Artists, a nonprofit organization that offers writing groups and aims to publish the work of new and established writers. The goal of Voices from Inside, Klein said, is to empower incarcerated women and give them a sense of self-expression, and help formerly incarcerated women to reintegrate back into the community.

The event, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at First Churches of Northampton, 129 Main St., will start with readings from Voices from Inside participants Kalise Anthony, Sue Ann Adams, Christine Hall and Maggie Morales.

The main event is a 45-minute interview with Chamuel conducted by Alex Peterson, marketing coordinator for the Media Education Foundation. Peterson said she is looking forward to asking Chamuel questions about her creative process, as well as how she got involved in singing, producing and composing.

Chamuel will not perform at the event because she said she would like to keep the focus on Voices from Inside, Klein said.

In the final segment, Anthony, Adams, Hall and Morales will join Chamuel on-stage for a question-and-answer session with the audience.

Klein said she and fellow Voices board member Amy Stamm were intrigued by Chamuel’s performances on “The Voice,” and wanted to learn more about who she is as an artist.

“She was not just your typical mainstream pop performer,” Klein said. “There was more there.”

“The Voice,” which concluded its fourth season in June, has singers from across the country compete while being mentored by music star coaches Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Usher and Shakira.

Chamuel was accepted into the televised singing competition after she stunned Levine, Shakira and Usher during the show’s blind auditions with her performance of “I Kissed A Girl” by Katy Perry. When she was selected by several judges, Chamuel chose Usher, and went on to earn constant praise from all four of the judges over the course of the season.

Chamuel, who calls herself a “top 40 junkie” and covered several pop songs while competing on “The Voice,” said she expects her solo career to take a direction that is less mainstream. This month, Chamuel, who goes by the stage name The Reverb Junkie, released her first solo album, “All I Want.” She has been making music since she was a child.

“It helps me process emotion,” Chamuel said in a telephone interview. “It also helps me feel tied to something bigger than myself because it’s something that can connect lots of people.”

She said she was interested in helping to further the mission of Voices from Inside because she would like to encourage others to express themselves.

“I want to bring awareness to the fact that everyone has the right to self-expression,” Chamuel said.

The event, Klein said, has a twofold purpose: To raise awareness in the community about the work done at Voices from Inside, and to teach previously incarcerated women what it means to be an artist.

Tickets can be purchased at Cooper’s Corner in Florence, Serio’s Market in Northampton, and from the Voices from Inside website at www.voicesfrominside.org. Single tickets are sold on a sliding scale and cost between $15 and $25. Tickets that include a limited-edition, hand-pressed CD of Chamuel’s album “All I Want” cost between $30-$50. Part of the cost for tickets $40 and over include a tax-deductible donation for VFI.

Tickets can also be purchased at the event. Doors open at 7 p.m.

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