Michaels was born in Davenport, Iowa but moved to Santa Clarita, California, north of Los Angeles, with her family. She began singing at age 12. In her late teens, she met songwriters Joleen Belle and Lindy Robbins, with whom she wrote "Fire Starter" for Demi Lovato and "Miss Movin' On" for Fifth Harmony.
Michaels has said her inspirations include Fiona Apple, Lisa Mitchell, Laura Marling, Missy Higgins, Paramore, Juliet Simms, Sarah Blasko, and The Fray.
Together with the Norwegian musician Kygo she performed at the closing ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.