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Breaking Artist: Ingrid Michaelson

October 24, 2007 3:41 PM ET

Who: Staten Island, New York singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson got her big break when "Keep Breathing" was discovered on MySpace and used during a pivotal moment of the Grey's Anatomy season finale. The twenty-seven-year-old also scored an Old Navy commercial with "The Way I Am," helping to rocket her second LP Girls and Boys to the top of both Billboard's Heatseekers and Alternative New Artist charts -- despite the fact that she has never signed to a label.

Sounds Like: Feist with a bit of Regina Spektor's quirk. On Girls and Boys, Michaelson tap-dances between piano-based ballads with pristine vocals and a few attitude-heavy guitar-centric tracks that show off her more rockin' side.

Three Things You Should Know:
1. After Old Navy ran with "The Way I Am," Michaelson started a forum on her MySpace to open discussion on selling out vs. succeeding. She says it's difficult for developing artists to turn down big breaks but, "If a big bad corporation comes up to me and wants me to be their mascot hopefully I'll be able to do my research and do what I know in my heart to be the right thing."
2. Girls and Boys is about (surprise) relationships. "I sing about those kinds of issues but in very boiled down simple terms," she says. "I listen to every kind of music and I have no idea what some people are talking about, but I still enjoy it. I want to say a lot with as few words as possible."
3. After being raised on pop-free diet of folk, classical music and the Beatles, Michaelson took to show tunes as a kid. "My parents put me in theater when I was nine. I did Guys and Dolls, a lot of Gilbert and Sullivan, Into the Woods," she says, adding that she studied musical theater in college but is actively trying to move away from such theatrics in her newer songs.

Get It: Girls and Boys was re-released in September and is in stores and available on iTunes.

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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