Michele Greene is perhaps best known for her role as the fresh-faced, young attorney Abby Perkins on the long-running American television show L.A. Law. Greene left the show in 1992. While Michele has continued acting, she's also been busy launching a career as a singer-songwriter. Her debut CD was released earlier this year, but Greene's L.A. Law fans may be surprised by her sound.
Sitting barefoot, with her light brown hair in braids, Michele Greene still looks a lot like the clean-cut, young lawyer she played on L.A. Law. But one listen to her new CD, Ojo de Tiburon, or "Eye of The Shark", and you realize there's probably a lot you don't know about this 38-year-old performer.
Michele Greene's grandfather was Nicaraguan. Her mother was born in Mexico and her father was from Oklahoma. Michelle's father died before she was a year old. So, she was raised by her Spanish-speaking mother and grandmother in Los Angeles.
Because she has green eyes, fair skin and freckles, Michele Greene says people have a hard time thinking of her as a Latina. Her work on L.A. Law in the late '80s and early-90s typecast her even more, she says, which is why she decided to wait until now to release a CD.
"At that time I felt very self-conscious, I think, about coming out into the market with something because I thought - especially with the type of music that I do," she said. "Number one, nobody knew I was a Latina. Then two, I do this strange, not very commercial world music fusion-type thing. How are they going to receive me if I'm showing up every Thursday night as this little, uptight, Midwestern lawyer in their living room, and then I do this whole other thing?"
"I think of it as like a fusion, a fusion of very traditional Latin music … with really traditional North American folk music because that the was the music we had around the house because it was the music my Dad had listened to," she said. "And when I started writing, I just started writing this fusion of sounds, and to me it seems very normal to take a very traditional folk melody, and set it to a Latin percussion group."
Michelle says the title of the CD, Ojo de Tiburon or "shark eye", was the childhood nickname of a friend from Chile. She says she'd always thought it a strange nickname for a child, but she says it really struck her on a trip to Mexico, when she saw a small homeless boy walking on glass to earn money.
"It was so horrifying to me, he was like seven, and I thought this is what this kid does every day," she said. "And at that point I thought, that's an interesting idea for a song, to take that odd nickname and put it together with a child like this and write a song about a kid who has to make their own way."
Michele Greene co-wrote all nine songs on Ojo de Tiburon, and says she's planning a tour of the United Kingdom and the northeastern U.S. She says she'll be back in the studio recording her second album in January.