May 17,1973 – Feb. 19, 2021
He was a singer, performance artist, celebrity stylist, makeup artist, fashion designer and much, much more. The multi-faceted Michiee DeVale died on Feb. 19, 2021. He was 47.
DeVale grew up on the east side of Detroit. He attended both Persian and Osborne High Schools but ultimately dropped out while in the 11th grade.
“He just took up on his own to do his own thing,” said his mother, Predetta Thomas. “And he did.”
DeVale developed a reputation for being androgynous. At 6 foot, 2 inches tall with a slim frame, he quickly became a favorite of photographers looking for someone a little different.
“I was very fashionable in high school,” DeVale recalled in a 2008 interview with deliciousday.com. “I didn’t wear what the boys wore. I wore what the girls wore. I wasn’t too girly, but I still got picked on every day because I wasn’t conforming to other people’s definitions of what I should be as a person. After high school, I realized that I was going to be me. I was through trying to hide who I was to please other people. I grew wings and flew.”
DeVale worked for years at the Space nightclub in downtown Detroit. He was part of the house cast with DeAngela “Show” Shannon and Diva. The three were early members of the House of Charles, along with Robert Johnson and Albert Sneed. DeVale also performed at Club Quarters and other venues around town.
A fiery live performer and a gritty vocalist, DeVale toured with friends as the O.D.D. Band featuring Michiee DeVale. The band traveled and even got as far as Toyko, a performance that DeVale said was one of the highlights of his career.
“The crowd was going crazy,” he said in the same interview with deliciousday.com. “They didn’t even know me, but they were going crazy.”
DeVale sometimes performed in drag and started making drag costumes for his eclectic group of friends. Soon, his skills were in demand.
“He’s the one who encouraged me to be a female impersonator,” said Butterfly, an acrobatic contortionist. “… He has done my costumes, outfits, forever. He did a friend’s entire wedding. He made my sister’s prom dress. He could do it all.”
DeVale also became friendly with singer Shirley Jones of the Philadelphia ’70s sensation The Jones Girls.
“Michiee was my absolute everything,” Jones said. “He designed my clothes. He uplifted me when I needed to be uplifted. He did my makeup. My hair. And he was just the most encouraging person.
DeVale also styled and did makeup for everyone who was interviewed in Detroit for the upcoming The Jones Girls feature episode of the TV One docuseries “Unsung,” which will air in May.
“We had just talked last week about what outfit I was going to wear for the premiere,” Jones said. “His favorite line was, ‘You know you got to be fabulous.’”
“Michiee was a wonderful clothes designer,” Shannon added. “His fashion eye was absolutely amazing! He was just talented, one of the most creative and talented people ever.”
Earlier in his career, DeVale relocated to Atlanta for several years, where he did makeup for the movies “When Love Was Simple” (2012) and “3 out of 100” (2015). He also worked as a makeup artist for the television series “Tyler Perry’s House of Pain.” Back in Detroit, DeVale did various jobs between creative gigs including in retail and restaurants.
“He loved everybody,” Thomas said. “He didn’t have no respect of person. He was just a loving person. He was a people person.”
“Unique,” Shannon offered. “The best word to describe Michiee was unique because there was only one, and there will probably only ever be one. There was something special about him and he just stood out from everybody else.”
Arrangements for DeVale are being handled by Ellis Funeral Home, located at 22401 Grand River Ave. in Detroit. There will be a viewing on Thursday, March 11, and the funeral will take place Friday, March 12. Times for both are to be determined and visitors will be limited to 25 at a time. For more information, call 313-535-8800. A special episode WDDS Dirty TV will be raising funds for DeVale’s final arrangements. The show will air on Wednesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live, Periscope and Twitch.