Michelle Jacquet DeSevren Branch was born in Sedona, Arizona. She began singing at the age of three, and enrolled in voice lessons at Northern Arizona University when she was eight. She received her first guitar for her fourteenth birthday.
After teaching herself chords, she composed her first song "Fallen" within a week of receiving her guitar. She finished her last two years of her high school education through home schooling so that she could focus on her music career.To support Branch's interests, her parents helped her book local gigs in Sedona, AZ, and later financed her independent album Broken Bracelet. Her set list at the time included covers by Sheryl Crow, Lisa Loeb, Jewel, and Fleetwood Mac.
In June 1998, Branch self-produced Broken Bracelet, a compilation of songs she wrote when she was 14 and 15. The album was later released on the independent record label Twin Dragon Records in June 2000. Its title was inspired from a bracelet made by pop singer Jewel, given to Branch by musician Steve Poltz at a Lisa Loeb concert she attended. Poltz told Branch that "when it breaks, you'll be famous."
The Broken Bracelet recordings were destroyed in the Nashville floods in May of 2010.
In December 1999, she posted two of her songs on the Rolling Stone website, which caught the attention of both pop rock band Hanson and former Rolling Stone writer and Los Angeles record producer Jeff Rabhan, eventually leading to two gigs opening for Hanson in 2000.
In 2001, Branch signed a recording deal with Maverick Records, where she began working with John Shanks to produce her first album and major-label debut. The album, The Spirit Room, was released in August 2001, producing the hit single "Everywhere," which won the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards Viewer's Choice Award. The song was followed by singles "All You Wanted" and "Goodbye to You." By 2003, The Spirit Room had sold over 2 million copies worldwide.
Her second album Hotel Paper was released in 2003, and debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 charts and matched the commercial success of her debut album earning a Platinum certification by the RIAA for selling over a million copies. The lead single "Are You Happy Now?" was a chart success, earning her a nomination for the Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.
In 2005, she formed the country music duo The Wreckers with friend and fellow musician Jessica Harp, and produced the Grammy-nominated single "Leave the Pieces." The Wreckers disbanded in 2007 to pursue their respective solo careers. She has had several commercially successful songs, most notably winning a Grammy for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals with Santana for "The Game of Love." She also earned a Grammy nomination in 2003 for Best New Artist.
In 2010, Branch and R&B/hip-hop producer Timbaland collaborated on a pop/R&B song entitled "Getaway" and released a video.
In December 2010, it was announced by Branch that she would be returning to her Pop/Rock roots for her new album. Branch is still signed to Warner Bros. Records, but the album is scheduled to be released on Branch's own vanity label Sticks n' Stones Recordings Ltd.