Violinist Michelle Jones Inspires New Generation

A Violinist Since the Beginning of Time

Just like most of us have no memory of life before we learned to talk, violinist Michelle Jones cannot recall a time when she didn’t know how to play the violin. She was three years old when her mother, Gayle Wade, put the instrument in her tiny hands. 

An accomplished violinist herself, Wade played in the Spartanburg Symphony Orchestra in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for 40 years. Jones likes to tell people her first seat in the orchestra was from inside her mother’s womb. By the time she was a teenager, she had earned her own chair. 

“My number one career highlight was playing in the symphony, sharing a music stand with my mother,” Jones says. 

Dreaming About the Magic of Disney

But Jones’ ambition was too weighty for Spartanburg to shoulder. A lifelong Disney fanatic, she dreamed of becoming a Disney violinist. After high school, she enrolled in classes at Rollins College and headed toward the Magic Kingdom.

Today, if you step foot in a Disney theme park, you will hear her music, whether in an attraction, a parade, or a fireworks display backdrop. 

While she is thrilled with the opportunity she earned through Disney, the late Alphonse Carlo helped usher her career to new heights. Carlo was the Florida Symphony Orchestra concertmaster and a Rollins professor. 

“I couldn’t believe he took me on as a student and mentor,” Jones says. 

Traveling to Pursue Her Passion

After graduation, she got work playing in orchestras around the state. Meanwhile, Carlo boasted to booking agents about a talented young violinist in Florida. 

In 1995, one of those agents invited her on tour with Led Zepplin. She was a supporting musician buried in the orchestra pit, which gave her a taste of life on the road. After that, there was no turning back. 

The list of musicians she’s played with reads like a Billboard Top 100 chart. She was a featured player on Josh Groban’s world tour. She regularly accompanies Wayne Newton in Vegas. Her band, Violectric, opened for Coldplay, John Legend and the Killers. 

Violectric Upcoming Local Performance

Violectric is a high-energy, electric string band. Mayor Buddy Dyer proclaimed them the house band for the City of Orlando. Although they focus on popular music, the musicians have talent enough to hold their own in any orchestra. 

While on tour, they spend their mornings visiting schools and performing for students. Jones feels it’s essential for young musicians to see that a music career is viable. 

“The upcoming generation of musicians need to know there is a path for them,” she says. 

On December 9, Violectric will give a free holiday concert at Lake Eola. The band has invited orchestras from Edgewater High and Howard Middle to share the stage. That night, Jones says, the spotlight will be on them. 


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Written by Michael Cuglietta

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