Michelle Malone is hard to pin down.
In the 15 years she has performed and recorded, the Atlanta musician has been called a rocker, a folkie, an alt-country singer and a power popster, none of which are entirely accurate.
A better word might be independent.
"Before I start thinking about making a record, I'm writing songs," said Ms. Malone, who performs Saturday at the Soul Bar on Broad Street. "I've always loved music, all kinds of music. I couldn't possibly choose one format to write 12 songs under. I tried that, and it made me miserable."
The desire to sway musically extends beyond the recording process. Ms. Malone lets her emotions guide her, whether at home on a stool with an acoustic guitar or cranking up with a rock band.
"It's kind of the Neil Young school of thought," she said. "I just want to do what I feel like. I mean, do you want vanilla ice cream or chocolate? You get so much out of both. The acoustic shows allow for intimacy, but the rock shows are so much fun. They let me subscribe to the Springsteen school and just give everything I have."
After an unhappy experience with a major label in the early 1990s, the independent-minded Ms. Malone started her own, SBS Records, and promoted herself through relentless tours and her Web site, www.michellemalone.com.
"There is a huge underground, independent movement out there," she said. "But things have gotten so corporate that it has made it hard to compete with big conglomerates like Sony. There is good stuff out there, but a lot of it is way underground. It's just easier to find bad stuff."
Ms. Malone spent a good part of her formative years in hotel bars while her mother performed.
"Yeah, I sucked down a lot of Shirley Temples," she said with a a laugh. "Because my mother was a musician, I grew up thinking that's what I would do. I think seeing my mom dress up in the early '70s, looking like Cher and Tina Turner, may have had a lot to do with it."
Now a veteran of the music business, Ms. Malone has been an artist for newcomers to look up to. Still, she admits to having her own heroes, artists whom she admires for sticking by their creative guns.
"For me, it would be a tossup between Neil Young and Emmylou Harris," she said. "This is a business where you can't make any mistakes, and they have had plenty of time to do it. But they have still stayed true to themselves, something that can be pretty hard to do today. I hope I can do what they do. Music is just an avenue for people to experience life, and that's what I want to do with my music."
What: Michelle Malone and Danielle Howle
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Soul Bar, 984 Broad St.
Michelle Malone - Hello Out There You can hear Michelle Malone's Super Ball online by clicking the link above. You can also hear a snippet of the song by calling INFOLINE at 442-4444, then dialing 8100.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.