Pop diva Michelle spent more than a decade in the upper echelons of the German charts. Born Tanja Oberloher in Villingen-Schwenningen on February 15, 1972, she grew up in the Blumberg area, singing in local bands as a teen. Appearances on radio outlet Südwestfunk led to her discovery by singer Kristina Bach, who produced the renamed Michelle's 1993 debut single, "Und Heut' Nacht Will Ich Tanzen." The single proved a hit, and she was invited to appear on the television music showcase ZDF-Hitparade in support of her first LP, Erste Sehnsucht. With "Silbermond und Sternenfeuer" Michelle placed second in the 1994 Deutschen Schlager-Festspielen, and three years later she competed in the annual Eurovision Song Contest with "Im Auge des Orkans."
Though she did not win the competition, the attention nevertheless vaulted her to stardom, bolstering sales of her third full-length, Wie Flammen im Wind. In 1999 Michelle won the first of two Goldene Stimmgabel awards as Germany's best-selling singer, an honor earned via hits including "Dein Püppchen Tanzt Nicht Mehr," "Nenn Es Liebe Oder Wahnsinn," and "Und Wir Wollten Doch Mal Fliegen." Two years later she returned to Eurovision competition, earning eighth place in the international finals with "Wer Liebe Lebt." In the spring of 2003, Michelle suffered a brain aneurysm just hours prior to a scheduled live performance. Although she fully recovered, the episode sparked a battle with depression that reportedly culminated in an attempted suicide. Her hiatus from pop music continued as she turned her back on celebrity to open her own dog grooming business.
Finally, in 2005, Michelle issued a well-received comeback LP, Leben. In April 2006 she posed for Playboy, and later that same year competed on the television reality showcase Dancing on Ice. An album, Glas, nevertheless failed to enter the German Top Ten. A scheduled 2007 tour was abruptly canceled in late January due to illness, and in March, Michelle announced her pending retirement. ~ Jason Ankeny