Biography

At one time, Michelle Bonilla felt totally invisible. Feeling like she didn’t fit in, she struggled with bullying as a young teen, and a poor self-image. "Although I was practically "born and raised in church" I couldn't see myself the way God saw me" While trying to understand her father's falling away from God and the church and his addiction to drugs and alcohol, Michelle felt lost, afraid, and often confused. As she grew older she battled heavily with the pressure of trying to fit in. With frustration and depression creeping into her life Michelle eventually spiraled into a whirlwind of negativity which lead to her private battle with Anorexia. Like many young teens, Michelle thought it was ok to "Starve" yourself. "I thought as long I was "skinny" I was beautiful" It didn't matter how I reached my goal of being "skinny", in retrospect, it seems like starving myself was the only thing in my life I could control, and part of my private rebellion against God. I was angry because it seemed like there was nothing I could do to help my father change. Starving myself was how I tried to deal with the hurt and the pain, I just never realized how much I was hurting myself until it was too late." Unfortunately, this eating disorder put Michelle in a New York City hospital at 17 where she recalls how the power of Christ literally transformed her heart and her mind. After the incident Michelle was blown away by God's love for her and she has since become a champion for girls issues and lives to glorify God through her music and testimony.

"I love my father no matter what because even though he struggled with addiction He pointed me to Jesus at an early age, and he has been my musical inspiration--my dad is an AMAZING guitarist! Still I am ever so grateful for my mom! She is a prayer warrior. She prayed for me every day” recalls Bonilla. Michelle accepted Jesus at a young age, but fully embraced His call on her life at 17. “Whenever I sing, I think about that hospital bed, and I think about all of the other people who may have felt invisible or still feel like that today and I just pray they will know that God knows their name, they are not forgotten, and He loves them.”

Now based in Philadelphia, PA, she delivers that message in a collection of powerful, radio-ready CHR/Rhythmic Pop songs which make up the CD Braveheart. From the first song release, the energetic, infectious “Relentless” which declares the unstoppable, unrelenting love that Jesus has for each of us, to “Just The Way You Are” - a song that will prove to be the anthem of the year for anyone who has ever experienced low self-esteem, or the feeling of being bullied, loneliness or feeling unloved.

“That song in particular comes from the lonely place I would often find myself in as a teen. I know many have felt abandoned and forgotten. I want everyone to know that no matter where they find themselves, whatever their struggle is, or in the depths of their despair, God has made with you with a purpose and with a specific plan for you to accomplish--you are special and beautiful just the way you are”

Partnering again with award-winning producer Lee Jerkins for her third RockSoul Records release, Michelle gives us her most creative offering to date. With top-notch production, dynamic vocal performances, and a powerful story on every song, Braveheart will capture her current audience base and will add many new fans. Michelle has worked with and shared the stage with artists from many genres in the Christian industry. Her music which has showcased Lecrae, Da’Truth, and many others, has given fuel for the urban airwaves. “Since In Spite of Me, I’ve continued to grow as an artist. My writing has matured, and my sound has expanded beyond just the urban market” assures Michelle. “I don’t write to a particular style or sound. I don’t strive to be a pop artist or an urban artist. I know what I want to say, and I work with producers and songwriters to help me communicate that – the music becomes a means to tell a real-life story that my fans can relate to.”

One of those real-life stories are in the song “Born Again.” Another of the many infectious songs on the collection, Born Again is an uptempo, apostles’ creed-like song that is sung from a person rejoicing over the truth and power of salvation. A real testimony of Michelle who is truly a worship-leader at heart. The wonderful mix of a throw-back groove with a modern dance rhythm, and the natural sing-along feel has made the song a favorite at live shows.

Another powerful story is told on the title track“BraveHeart” “As I observe the world around me I see a world that has endless possibilities for a bright future but unfortunately the heart of man has destroyed much of that possibility and as we have been praying for the persecuted church my heart has been convicted and deeply moved by the fact that I am privileged to live in country where I can worship God freely but my brothers and sisters around the globe are dying for their unwavering faith in Christ” How can it be that we in America sit comfortably while our brothers and sisters die for the same faith we can so freely exercise? It is from this premise that BraveHeart was written. "You have to hear the music to understand the passion and my the heart from which I sing, and the sincerity in the lyrics to understand my conviction on this issue. I truly believe that we the church have been asleep too long and we must awaken and learn from the courage of our persecuted brethren across the world. BraveHeart is the thread that ties the through the album and weaves in and out encouraging us to take heart and take courage as Believers who have been given the awesome responsibility to share Jesus with the world. It ensures the hearer that even when our journey of life brings us down a path that seems difficult and uncomfortable, God uses the totality of our experiences to make our hearts brave.

As for her heart for worship music, The album is balanced by 'Butterfly" a beautiful ballad that talks about the courage to allow oneself to be transformed into something beautiful.Sometimes life's circumstances can make you feel like you will never blossom, but what I have learned about "drama" or the incubation or cocooning process if you will is that it is absolutely necessary in order for us to emerge from the process with beautiful strong wings ready and able to fly!

One of the greatest joys over the past year and a half was the birth of Michelle’s first child, Lee, Jr. or as he is affectionately called Baby LJ. BraveHeart chronicles the journey of a new and young mother, who tries to maintain balance in her personnel and professional life. "Sometimes I win the battle and sometimes it feels like an epic fail lol!" But I remember that I must get up again, and try again, and trust God again, because only He knows the outcome of it all. I thank God for making me Brave throughout all of the recent and past challenges of my life. He has given me the courage to stand through it all.

A trailblazer in the urban contemporary music scene, on her wish list is to deliver a full worship offering as well as a Spanish language release. “I’m very comfortable ministering in Spanish. There’s so much that I want to say, and the beauty of the Spanish language and the diversity in the music and rhythms allows me to write and sing differently to an audience I feel at home with.

Michelle is still going strong and ready to bring her ministry to another level. Many industry insiders say that they are surprised that Michelle is not bigger than she is, but that’s ok. She’s never wanted to sacrifice integrity or ministry for fame. She wants to preach the gospel through music, and she’s been willing to wait on God’s timing.

Well, Michelle’s time is now! She’s poised and ready to bring her ministry back to the industry through Braveheart 2015!

ABOUT ROCKSOUL

…In fact, when not recording or touring, Michelle continues to be a part of a worship team at church or leading worship at regional conferences.

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