Stillwater’s Michelle Rose has been singing since she was 6 and is classically trained with a voice that grasps both opera and pop. (Paula Preston/Submitted photo)

Local recording artist Michelle Rose moved back to Stillwater in November, just in time for an apt new cover of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

“I love the water and where I grew up,” she says. “I love that it’s a bigger town but still feels small.”

Rose attended Stillwater Area Public Schools from fifth through 10th grade before moving to an online program to finish out high school. She then moved to Boston, where this past October she graduated summa cum laude from Berklee College of Music.

Now back in her hometown, Rose says she wants to try a new bent in the coming year: a country note to her work.

Until now, Rose has focused primarily on pop sounds, though most of her training has been classical, including opera, which she says she still keeps up with from time to time.

Themes in her music have ranged from breakups to intensely personal topics, such as bullying and anorexia, both of which she has experienced and found their ways into songs she recorded but never released.

“It’s really hard for me to write songs that I have not seen or experienced firsthand, whether it was me or someone in my life,” she says.

Rose says that family and friends drew her back to Stillwater, as did its coffee shops, the riverfront and that feel of balance between small-town comfort and big-city energy.

But even if Stillwater is home, Rose says the ultimate goal is to be a traveling recording artist, whether throughout Minnesota, the U.S. or beyond.

There have been naysayers, Rose says, expounding on bullying she endured while growing up: those who poked fun at her singing all the time. But that only drove her on to keep with it, she says, adding that she heard recently from a former high school friend who admitted she had believed in her all the time despite what she might have said, and that, says Rose, “was a really great moment.”

Rose has also gained a feather in her cap along the way back home. The music video for “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was produced by Doctor Fink of Prince’s band, The Revolution.

A snowy panorama of downtown Stillwater and shots of the St. Croix lift bridge place Rose in the town she had called home for most of her 22 years.

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