Album: Dancing on the Wind
Artist: Shoshana Michel

dotw-cover-1600x1600-300x300Although Dancing on the Wind is only pianist Shoshana Michel’s second album, and her first as a composer of original material, she is already being recognized for her talents and is making a name for herself in the solo piano category. Her debut album, Soul Whispers, received critical acclaim as well as extensive radio airplay and was nominated for 2015 Album of the Year by Shoshana is both a Whisperings Artist ( and Enlightened Piano Artist ( Not bad for a first recording in a highly populated field of talented artists. Dancing on the Wind is being promoted by RS Promotions, which is run by well known new age flutist Sherry Finzer.


Shoshana’s musical background has had a number of twists and turns, in addition to starts and stops. She began at an early age playing piano and accordion and went on to years of classical training. However, the first major shift came when she encountered ragtime music, which inspired a new musical direction for her. At only 17 years old, she became proficient enough in it to play this style professionally in commercial establishments, including the famed Knott’s Berry Farm in southern California, as well as being a piano accompanist in musical theatre productions. Another fork in the road came more recently when Shoshana became aware of a collection of Jewish religious songs called Chabad Nigunim. Her creative arrangements of these spiritual melodies became the basis for Soul Whispers, her debut album.


As I mentioned, there have been starts and stops in Shoshana’s work as a composer. However,michel056r sometimes, fallow periods can be a time for germinating and realizations. And in my interview with Shoshana, she shared a bit about this. In her words: “I think that the main thing that I’d like to get across is for people to accept their talents as they are and not to try to be someone that they are not or try to meet someone else’s expectations. I believe that I stopped composing for all those years because I felt the music that I wrote didn’t fit the genre that I wanted to compose in. I am learning to accept that however the music comes out of me is a blessing and I need to embrace and love myself for it. I feel that it’s important to see our gifts and talents as a blessing and to have and show gratitude.”


In addition to the musical genres mentioned above, Shoshana has also been influenced by new age music. As she shared: “I fell in love with new age solo piano music over 25 years ago, listening to and playing music by pianists David Lanz, Suzanne Ciani, Spencer Brewer, Chip Davis, Jim Chappell and others. After a very long hiatus from listening to this genre, I discovered and started listening to the music of Thad Fiscella and got inspired to start composing again.” The new age music genre is often associated with the field of holistic healing, and these interests do indeed converge for Shoshana who is an Energy Medicine Practitioner and uses a number of techniques and modalities to create balance in body, mind, and spirit.


This long and winding road brings us to the release of her latest album – the first as a composer of original material. Here Shoshana talks a bit about her creative process: “I don’t over-think when I compose. I just sit down and start composing. I initially started playing around at either the piano or keyboard then as I developed the pieces the mood for the piece would also develop. Whatever is meant to come out comes out.” A good example of this is the album’s opening track, about which Shoshana shared: “’When Leaves Dance’ is the first piano solo that I composed after not composing for about twenty-four years. I was drawn to and inspired by the movement of the leaves on the tree that is just outside the window by my piano as I was composing this piece.” This song makes a wonderful entry into the album and I loved the rippling arpeggios that capture the feeling of leaves moving in the breeze. I also really liked the minor key chord progression that added a subtly dramatic feel – a mellow drama, so to speak.


541733_362108053897840_1571494761_nIn an interesting juxtaposition between the writing of the first and second track, Shoshana shared: “’Heather, Roses and Moonlight’ was the very first piece that I composed, written twenty-five years ago for a piano student who shared my love of new age piano solos. I only wrote one more piece after this then stopped composing for about 24 years as I was convinced that I wasn’t able to compose.” As the title implies, this piece elicits more of a romantic and impressionistic ambiance that is quite lovely. The delicate strains of the next track, “Dancing On the Wind,” evoked for me, an image of an antique music box with a ballerina.


While some of Shoshana’s music is inspired by the beauty of nature and the world around her, other compositions stem from real life events and emotions, which can sometimes be quite poignant. One of these is “Finding The Light Within” which according to Shoshana: “was inspired and dedicated to a young woman who took her own life and to all those that are trying to find their way in a world different from their own.” It’s a deeply moving piece with a wistful air that beautifully and lovingly expresses the emotions behind it. The theme of “light” continues on the next track, although with quite a different perspective. In Shoshana’s words: “’A Night of Lights’ was written for a benefit Chanukah concert that I was asked to perform in. I had the vision of children lighting the Chanukah menorah and the lights shining in their beautiful faces; a very simple act bringing light into the world.” On this song Shoshana’s piano playing has a twinkling quality that seems to musically emulate the flickering of the candlelight.


One of my favorite tracks was an emotionally evocative piece entitled “Wishing For You,” which Shoshana Michelaccording to Shoshana: “is about those people that we are wishing for, whether they aren’t part of our life yet or were very dear to us but now gone.” A sense of longing permeates this haunting melody, which I found quite touching. I also very much enjoyed the thematic evolution in “Dream’s Journey,” which flows through various movements ranging from slow and spacious to expressing a feeling of forward motion. The album draws to a conclusion on a different note. As Shoshana shared: “’Quiet Valley’ was written for Thad Fiscella, a pianist/composer who along with his music continues to motivate and inspire me. I wanted this piece to have an ‘Americana’ feel.” And it does, with it’s understated melody that is simple, down to earth, and gentle, reminding me, in a way, of an Andrew Wyeth painting interpreted musically.


I’m glad that after a long hiatus, this talented artist was able to find her way back to composing. Shoshana Michel has a lot to say musically, and does it in a style that is elegant and expressive, touching on emotions that are both personal to her yet universal in their resonance. In our interview, I asked about her musical vision and why she is a musician, and I’ll conclude this feature article with her reply: “I feel that I am a musician because that is what was meant for me to be. It is part of my life’s path. Being a musician means being able to express my emotions and my life’s experiences into music, which can be healing to those that listen as well as myself.”



Click the links below to hear samples and/or purchase this album: