I grew up surrounded by the fabulous music scene of metropolitan Portland OR. I played piano, sang, danced and started composing when I was about 10 years old. Just for fun my mom and I would sit at the piano and jam on old church hymns; she would play the chord parts and I would improvise.
I attended the Phil Mattson School of Music, Clackamas Community College and graduated from the University of Oregon.
I spent a few years directing the vocal jazz ensembles at the University of Oregon and won the Oregon Jazz Society’s scholarship for Outstanding New Jazz Vocalist. I've had the good fortune of working with some of the Northwest’s finest musicians including the late bassist Leroy Vinegar; pianist, Andre Kitaev; and composer/guitarist, Mason Williams (Classical Gas).
Current musical ensembles include:
The Cascade Brass - a brass quintet with vocals. We do a yearly Christmas concert and a summer tribute show to New Orleans and Dixieland.
The Michelle Van Handel Quintet and The Groove Merchants - jazz standards, swing & Latin
Summer Samba - a light and Latin cocktail band
Cascade School of Music -jazz vocal classes that provide an opportunity for singers to explore jazz and sing a solo with rhythm section.