During rehearsal with her band, Dakota, Michelle Hemmer has been known to suddenly launch into a flaming acoustic rendition of Poison's 'Every Rose Has it's Thorn,' complete with heavy metal facial expressions. Hemmer's had a long love affair with 80's hair bands (she'll proudly show you a photo of her teenage self backstage with Bret Michaels), but she's somehow managed to fuse it with a wide spectrum of musical influences that includes the Indigo Girls, Counting Crows and the Eagles to produce a hauntingly original style. Michelle started writing and playing guitar while she was a student at Ohio University. After moving to LA she became frustrated with performing as a solo artist. 'When I sing,' she says, 'I always hear a second melody in my head. I hate singing by myself because I always feel like there is something missing.' To add more texture, she teamed up with Georgia-born singer Claudette Powell, who eventually started co-writing. Hemmer and Powell worked out intricate, unorthodox harmonies and counter-melodies to their songs and quickly laid down a rich vocal foundation. Since Dakota was founded in Fall 2000, they have built a respectable fan base and won the admiration of the hard-to-impress L.A. music community. Music Connection Magazine just included them in it's annual 'Hot 100 Unsigned Artists' list, and they just completed a 12-song CD that represents a small sampling of their sizable original catalog and their best sound to date. Dakota continues to write and record until the mass market catches on, but in the meantime they're ecstatic about their rising popularity. 'The biggest compliment we ever got,' says Powell, 'was when these two gigantic, scary, heavy-metal guys came walking up to us after a show and told us how much they loved it. One of them said, 'Dude, that chick rock kicks ASS!''