Me'Shell Ndegéocello

Aug. 29, 1969

Me'Shell Ndegéocello Artistfacts

  • Ndegeocello, who was born Michelle Johnson, picked her own surname. It is Swahili for "free as a bird," and reflects the mindset with which she approaches both her life and her music.
  • Ndegeocello is widely regarded as one of the best female bass players, and was the first woman to appear on the cover of Bass Player magazine. Initially she was self-taught, explaining in interviews that she has continued to learn from bandmates and fellow musicians throughout her career.
  • Ndegeocello, who writes most of her own songs, is not a fan of rehearsing or post-processing, and as such almost everything she's ever released is a recording of a first or second take of the song. She believes that music played spontaneously is capable of producing a unique spark that can't be recaptured through practice or repeat playthroughs.
  • She was one of the first acts on Maverick Records, Madonna's label.
  • Despite hailing from Washington, DC, Me'Shell spent the majority of her career signed to European music labels. This is because, in her words, she finds European audiences more willing to accept the restless changes in evolutions in her sound, whereas American audiences tend to favor artists who establish themselves within a single genre.
  • Ndegeocello received a Grammy nomination for Best Urban/Alternative performance for her The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams. Although this marked her 10th nomination, Ndegeocello has never won a Grammy.
  • When jokingly asked by Grown Folks Music if there was a fictional character that represented her bass playing, Ndegeocello stated that Radar from MASH would be her choice. Her reasoning was that she was able to anticipate things musically.
  • Ndegeocello has stated that, of all mainstream artists, she'd most enjoy collaborating with Alicia Keys, System of a Down, or John Forte.
  • Prince is a huge influence on Me'Shell, but she has referred to the Purple One as a "jerk." She says that when she met him it did not go well.


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