Q&A with Michelle Schmitt
The San Anselmo singer/songwriter is back December 7 at the Throckmorton Theatre for her ninth annual charity benefit. Audiences love her soulful vocals and the fact that 100 percent of proceeds go to ExtraFood.org.
What first drew you to ExtraFood Marin, and how long have you been contributing to its efforts?
My best friend, Heidi Krahling, who owns Insalata’s and Marinitas in San Anselmo, introduced me to ExtraFood because of my interest in giving back and my ability to raise money for good causes. I’d been involved with Meals on Wheels San Francisco for a long time, but wanted to do something in my own community. That was five years ago.
Precisely what is it that you do for them? And what do you get out of it?
Nine years ago, I started a benefit concert to celebrate my turning 50 years old in a positive way. Getting food to people in need seemed like a good thing to do. Since then, 100 percent of all proceeds from my music go to assist various organizations in San Francisco and Marin that help the homeless, the LGBTQ community, food banks, Shanti Project, anti-bullying organizations and various drug rehabilitation programs. Why do I do it? It makes me happy.
Do you perform in benefits outside of Marin?
Next year, I’ll do a widely publicized concert at Eglise Saint-Eustache, one of only two churches in Paris, France, that welcomed people suffering during the early days of the AIDS epidemic. This amazing church also started a soup kitchen that is still active today. This concert, and my upcoming record St. Mary’s, will be part of my 60th birthday.
What inspires or motivates you to do these concerts?
I grew up in Detroit in a big family and, as the oldest, I always felt a strong sense of responsibility. While raising my sons around a lot of affluence here in Marin, I taught them that economic grace comes with responsibility. We do it in our family business, BMW of San Francisco, and we do it in our family life. I love grand gestures that help people, but all acts of kindness matter. My husband of 40 years, two sons, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, granddaughter and future grandson all remind me every day of how lucky I am. I know that all the gifts I have been given are for a reason, and it is my job to put them back out into the world in whatever way I can.