Michele began working on the music that would make up I Am before she had a recording contract, and started promoting her work by visiting events for independent artists. During this time, she caught the attention of L.A. Reid, who later signed her to Island Def Jam, where she got support from producers such as Babyface, will.i.am, and John Legend.
The video for the album's lead single "If I Have My Way" premiered on VH1 Soul. The video for her second single "Best of Me" premiered on July 6, 2007 on Yahoo! Music, and was later added to VH1's video rotation. "Be OK", which features will.i.am, was released as the third single from the album, whose music video was on BET's 106 & Park on December 18, 2007. "Love Is You" was the fourth and final single and was released in 2008.
I Am debuted at number twenty-nine on the US Billboard 200, selling about 26,000 copies in its first week. Despite lack of promotion, the album has thus far managed to sell 419,000 units in the United States as of late February 2009.
I Am received generally positive reviews. Internet publication AllHipHop gave the album a stellar rating, stating: "She is Chrisette Michele and with her debut, I Am (Def Jam), this constituent of the House of Hov delivers one of the quietest, yet most powerful albums out there." The album's third single, "Be OK", won the 2009 Grammy Award for Best Urban/Alternative Performance.