Michelle was born in Kent, England. She found the piano in the living room when she was three and has never been far from a keyboard since that moment. After moving to South Africa at 13, she continued piano and guitar studies, receiving her BMus Hons degree from Cape Town University and performing locally in Cape Town in the local townships Nyanga and Langa and at local music festivals.
Michelle returned to England in 1982, becoming involved with the burgeoning classical guitar movement headed up by John Duarte. By the beginning of 1985, Michelle had settled in New York City jumping into the melting pot, studying and performing at the legendary Jazzmobile learning from Jazz greats including Ronnie Mathews, Billy Taylor, Sharon Freeman, Walter Bishop, Jimmy Heath, Frank Wess, Randy Wilson, Charlie Persip and Freddie Waits to name a few and add becoming an alumnus of Barry Harris' Jazz collective down in Chelsea. It was a magical time with Dizzy Gillespie, Barry Harris, Billy Taylor and other Jazz luminaries keeping an avuncular eye on young jazz musicians who had travelled from all over the world to study and soak up the incredible musical soup that is New York. Local and International gigs followed, performing and often wearing Musical Director or Arranger hats as well as playing piano. From performing Latin Montunos with Yomo Toro at SOB's in New York and playing with the inimitable R&B singer Gwen Guthrie, to wearing her Musical Director hat for trendy Off Off Broadway to unforgettable experiences touring as a neophyte performer with The Inkspots, The Marvelettes and Ben E. King to recording with Velvet Underground drummer Maureen Tucker and Sterling Morrison, assisting Velvet's John Cale with orchestrating "The Falkland Suite" - settings of Dylan Thomas poetry for voice and orchestra and Herbie Hancock on arrangements for his mammoth tour with the Brecker Brothers promoting the Future Shock album.
Michelle has always worked across the genres melding her own inimitable style from the fortune of her amazing early influences. Motown, R&B, Soul, Jazz, AfroCuban, Brazilian Bossas and Sambas, Blues, Rock - all comfortable idioms that have influenced her style. Rhythm section players who have played with the Michelle Saacks band/trio etc include Matthew Garrison, Reggie Washington, Leo Traversa, Kirk Lyons, Damon Banks, Gene Torres, Ogonna Okegwe on bass and Tony Lewis, Damon DueWhite, John Arnold, Vince Cherico, Phoenix Rivera on drums.
Following the birth of her son in 1999 in New York, Michelle scaled everything back to focus on bringing up Reuben and moved back to England to Cornwall in March of 2010. Sporadic well received local gigs occur, but loving the verdant and creative energy here, Michelle has most recently been focused on writing and recording, the amazingness of playing left hand keyboard bass on an old X5 and the immediacy of it all. Life is amazing.
Some interesting links:
Wikipedia Entry about "I Spent A Week There The Other Night", Maureen Tucker