The daughter of Pastor Ralph C. Duke and Pamela Boyd Duke, growing up in the Washington, DC area her parents involved her in various creative arts groups. At the age of four, she began her musical journey in the children’s choir at First Baptist Church in Vienna, Virginia, where she developed a love for hymns and Negro spirituals.
In elementary school, Charmaine Michelle first started playing the cello but later switched to the trumpet. As a member of the national award-winning “Pride of Vienna” James Madison High School Band, she had the fortunate experience of sitting under the baton of Carl J. Bianchi (20 year conductor of the American Youth Philharmonic) and to perform at the Kennedy Center. Her senior year, the jazz band was lead by NSO Pops lead trumpet player and former member of “The President’s Own”, David Detwiler.
Also during this time she was heavily involved with the music ministry and creative arts team at Christ Fellowship Church in Herndon, Virginia where her father was associate Pastor. She was afforded the opportunity to write plays, lead the worship team and perform music with church band abroad in the Caribbean.
In 1999, she took a break from the Arts to start a family and to complete an undergraduate degree in African History with a minor in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and then received her Master’s Degree in Instructional Technology from Virginia Tech. In 2008, during the decline of her marriage she returned to the trumpet for solace and healing. With help of friends and mentors, in 2010 she was able to gain admission to Peabody Conservatory’s Jazz Studies Program headed by legendary saxophonist Gary Thomas. During her matriculation at Peabody, Ms. Michelle was the recipient of the Noble Levi Jolley Sr. Jazz Scholarship and studied under trumpet player-Joe Burgstaller (formerly of the Canadian Brass).
While Peabody provided Ms. Michelle with a strong foundation in Jazz theory, she truly blossomed when she was given a special invitation to join the Dunbar Alumni Band under the director of legendary jazz educator, Charles Funn. Ms. Michelle also now takes lessons from 2nd place Monk Winner, Quamon Fowler as well as Assistant Principal Trumpet of the Baltimore Symphony-Rene Hernandez,
Charmaine Michelle has performed with the Peabody Brass Ensemble, Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Combo, Alex Norris, Steve Wilson, classical pianist Kyungwha Chu, Musicians of Mercy, St. Thomas Episcopal Brass Quintet, Sudanese Rocker mOsno, folk artist and activist Paulo Greogry, spoken word artist Aquil Mizan, Ama Chandra, Marc Evans, William Soul, Deep Water, Adrian Blu, The Kim Poole Experience, Soulful Elements, Karlos Brickhouse, Dunbar Alumni Big Band, The Dale Acorn Big Band, KREation, Artists against War, and The Ernie Williams Project.