OU alum talks juggling life as singer-songwriter, graduate student


Photo courtesy of Nicole Michele

OU alum Nicole Michele’s latest single “Do It All (feat. Tykese)” dropped Fri, Oct. 22

Oakland University alum and singer-songwriter Nicole Michele spends her time between two passion projects — her music, and her studies as a graduate student at the University of Michigan (U-M). Her latest single “Do It All” was released on Oct. 22, embodying the same mantra she abides by in her own life — why limit yourself to following only one of your dreams?

Music has always been an important fixture in Michele’s life. Growing up, her time was spent performing cover songs and idolizing artists like Demi Lovato who merged powerful musicality and vocals with vulnerability in songwriting. She found herself putting pen to paper plenty of times, though never imagined someday sharing that part of herself with the world.

Aiming to become a clinical social worker, Michele eventually enrolled at OU as a Psychology major. From working as a distributor at The Oakland Post throughout the Fall of 2018 to moving on to positions at the Center for Multicultural Initiatives and Student Congress, she found many ways to get involved on campus — though music always maintained its presence in her life, as she also participated in the Student Program Board’s annual “OU’s Got Talent” show each year.

Approaching music professionally wasn’t something Michele had ever considered an option until just earlier this year.

“This past year — around January — I was like, ‘you know what, I’ve written so many songs throughout my life — why don’t I actually work on them and put them out?’” Michele said. “If I have this creative outlet, why don’t I share it with the rest of the world?”

After setting out and finding the resources she needed to bring this vision to life, Michele settled into a daunting yet exciting new stage of life, where her music was available to listen to for anyone who wanted to hear it.

The decision to make this shift alongside her busy schedule as a student working toward her Masters in Social Work at U-M prompted criticism from some, many of whom doubted the feasibility of pursuing both passions.

“A lot of people were like, ‘well what are you going to do, are you going to get your Master’s or are you gonna be a singer?’ And [I was] like… ‘why not both?’” Michele said. “Why do I have to sacrifice one of my passions for the other?”

Michele’s latest musical offering — single “Do It All” featuring rap artist Tykese — communicates this same message of multitasking in the name of multiple passions. With its rap feature and new lean into R&B sounds, the track sees Michele adopting an edgier sound than her previous work, marking both a sonic and thematic testament to her artistic versatility.

“It’s about juggling everything in life and […] growing from various experiences that held you back — it’s a pretty resilient song,” Michele said. “I want it to hopefully inspire people — we’ve all been through different things that set us back, and the song’s kind of about just sticking it through, keeping your mind on your goals and persevering.”

This notion that life is big enough for the pursuit of all of your dreams is something Michele hopes motivates other hopeful musicians juggling a professional life in the same way. No matter how busy things get, she loves the life she leads that makes room for her professional journey and her life as a storyteller through song — and with plans to release more music (and perform it, too) already taking shape, she has no intention of changing pace anytime soon.

“I do have my academic goals, and I am really passionate about my career […] but I think I will always make time for music,” Michele said. “I’m passionate about mental health, this is what I want to do for a living — I wanna help people. But I can help people through my music, too, and have fun with it at the same time.”