Athough she was always musically inclined, Michaele Jordana Berman began her artistic journey as a painter. Originally from Winnipeg, she moved to Toronto after earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba, determined to make it as an artist. She debuted her first solo exhibtion at Isaacs Galley in the fall of 1976, a series of portraits of slaughtered whales inspired by a trip to the Arctic. The venues for her paintings quickly expanded, and soon several private collectors were vying for her works, as well as some pieces in the National Gallery of Canada.
She continued painting for the next couple of years, while also dabbling in photography, and then morphing into award-winning multimedia performances with then boyfriend, Doug Pringle, ex of Syrinx. “The Rites of Nuliajuk” performance and art work was also based on her time in the Arctic, and was displayed at both the Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa, Innis College in Toronto, and University of Waterloo, performed on stage built out of blocks of solid ice.
They were looking to get a new musical project together, away from the synthesizers of Syrinx and more of a straight forward, power punk/new wave band.They formed The Poles, and quickly took over the Toronto market, and made several stops along the way at New York’s CBGB’s and Max’s with the likes of The Ramones, Patti Smith, The Stooges, and Devo.
The band’s only single was “CN Tower” b/w “Prime Time” in 1978. The song about the Toronto landmark went gold, and is argued by some critics as one of the top songs to ever come out of Toronto.
After signing a deal with Attic Records, The Poles was transformed into a Jordana solo recording project, with a new wave spin. With Pringle and Jimmy Frank producing, ROMANCE AT THE ROXY was released in 1980. It churned out another top 40 local hit in the cover of Alice Cooper’s “I’m Eighteen,” as well as the critically acclaimed b-side “Hologram Man,” “XRay Robot,” “No Time” (an old Poles number) and a re-release of “CN Tower.” She was in the running for Most Promising Female Vocalist at the Junos a year later, but lost out to Carole Pope of Rough Trade. That same year, Toronto radio station CFNY started the You Know Awards, later the CASBY Awards (Canadian Artists Selected By You). At the gala atop the CN Tower, she won for Top Female Vocalist, which was followed by a Poles performance.
By 1982, her music career was on hold while she became a mother. When she returned to the public eye, she gained recognition over the next few years for several TV documentaries, usually dealing with her preferred subject matter – the environment or social issues. Among those projects, “Face to Face”, a documentary focusing on the re-integration of disabled teenagers into society, which won a silver medal at the New York Film and Television Festival.
She has also worked tirelessly in university and schools, developing innovative programs in the visual arts. She also continues to work with Pringle on various multi-media projects for various private and corporate clients. Often her music accompanies the projects, including “XRay Robot” becoming the backdrop for “Cyborg: The Human Condition”, a new collection of digital paintings. Over the years, her works have been featured in countless publications and books, and has received numerous arts awards from the Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council, both at home and abroad.
Jordana and Pringle’s daughter, Ramona Pringle, has become a digital and multi-media artist in her own right, often working with DigitalPeaks Media with her parents, and also has several TV and screen credits, including commercials and working with the likes of Russell Crowe and Ron Howard. She’s also appeared in episodes of “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” Skinwalkers,” “Blue Murder,” and “Riding the Bus With My Sister,” among other shows, as well as other PBS and independent projects.