One moment Michelle Branch was “Everywhere” and the next she was gone. The TRL era singer-songwriter just seemed to disappear after an impressive stretch in the aughts that included a pair of platinum albums and a Grammy win for her “Game of Love” collaboration with legendary guitarist Carlos Santana. And don’t forget about those cameos on Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (but feel free to forget about her cameo in the critically-panned The Hot Chick). All this before she was even legally old enough to drink.
It appeared Branch would be strumming her guitar all over the radio and TV for years to come, but by the end of the decade she was already turning into an afterthought in the rapid-moving music industry, with nary even an on-stage blooper to sustain us. If you’re wondering what happened to Branch, you’re not alone. She told Elle she gets that question a lot. So let’s answer that question with a look at why you don’t hear from Branch anymore.
She had two albums shelved
Michelle Branch never stopped writing music during her time away from the spotlight. It’s just that Warner Bros. stopped releasing it. She revealed in an interview with Elle that the label constantly tried to turn her into something she’s not, telling her she should be like whoever the female singer of the moment was, including Avril Lavigne and Katy Perry. Branch refused to play the game and kept recording music that was true to herself. But while she remained the same, the label presidents were constantly in flux.
“One [label president] I met with on a Thursday, and they were fired on Monday,” Branch told Elle, adding that on another occasion, “I turned in a full album. We shot artwork and a video for it. There was a single; a release date. And then everyone got fired, and it all just stopped. Then a new guy comes in, he gives his two cents, calls the new radio department, they give their two cents. It was that… over and over and over.”
Asked during her Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) what fans have to do to get their hands on her scrapped albums, Branch wrote “Write passionate hate letters to Warner Bros?? haha!” She was joking — or was she?
Her country side project ended on a sour note
It’s easy to forget that Michelle Branch followed up two hit albums with a country album in 2006. She and pal Jessica Harp recorded Stand Still, Look Pretty under the name The Wreckers and enjoyed some success, thanks in large part to their Grammy-nominated track “Leave the Pieces.” Now do you remember? But there would be no sophomore studio record for the duo, as they weren’t seeing eye-to-eye by the end. Literally.
“I haven’t seen her since 2007, since our last show, where we wore sunglasses onstage and didn’t make eye contact. It was so terrible,” Branch told Rolling Stone. “It was really emotional. We went to mediation toward the end, and the mediator was like, ‘You two can’t work together.’ I don’t know how it got to that point.”
Whatever their issues were, they must have been serious. Branch told Rolling Stone she and Harp went ten years without talking after parting ways. The former friends eventually reunited in 2017 when Branch brought Harp on stage to perform a few Wreckers tunes during a Nashville tour stop. It’s hard to tell if they truly buried the hatchet though, seeing how it was billed as a one-night-only event.
She got an early start on motherhood
In addition to trying to get her next album off the ground, Michelle Branch has been raising the child she had with ex-husband and former bassist Teddy Landau in 2005 when she was 22. Since her daughter was four weeks old, Branch has been bringing little Owen on tour with her. And when her career slowed down due to the album delays, Branch used the down time to her advantage.
“It would have been really, really tough to juggle all of that when I was 24,” Branch told Glamour. “I got to spend the most important years of her life being a normal mom, so that kept me grounded, focused, and balanced. On tough days I still had to get dinner on the table, help with homework, and get laundry done. That was kind of my meditation that kept me sane. Because at the end of the day, she’s the most important thing. She saved me.”
Owen doesn’t have much interest in her parents’ careers, but she does share her mom’s taste in music. Coincidence? Not exactly. “She has good taste because being under our roof — she only hears what we have playing,” Branch told Observer. “She likes everything from The Strokes to Pollock.” But as for pop music? Not so much. “She has friends at school who are into Justin Bieber and One Direction, and she’s like, ‘I don’t get it.'”
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