MICHELLE CHAPPEL'S song "Screw you, Yahoo," from 2008, is a jaunty, acoustic number on how bad it feels to be laid off and think it's your fault when it's not. An accompanying video posted to YouTube featuring the diminutive Chappel showing flashcards with key words from the song became a brief Internet sensation, garnering 17,000 viewers on its peak day. "I think the video's more relevant now than it was then," Chappel says. "There's research that shows being laid off really hurts your health. It's not good for you at all, and people do it so easily—it's such a regular way of coping with business problems. I was saying, 'Isn't there a better way to do this?'"
All of it—the creative impulse, the concern for others, the agency to act on that concern—is par for the course for Chappel, who left a secure job as a psychology professor at UC–Santa Cruz to embark on a musical career and started coaching people to help them shake off outmoded behaviors. Many of her songs contain messages of uplift, and while lyrics like "Shine/ Let your spirit come through/ Shine/ Just be real" aren't everyone's cup of tea, they are undoubtedly the work of a brave original. The new release, Shine, her fifth CD, includes "You Can Make It," about escaping an abusive relationship, as well as a cover of "Me and Bobby McGee."
MICHELLE CHAPPEL performs Saturday (Nov. 14) at 7:30pm at Mission City Coffee Roasting Company, 2221 The Alameda, Santa Clara. Tickets are $5. (408.261.2221)
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