NEW YORK (www.fireheartmusic.com) - Best-selling instrumental pianist Jeffrey Michael has built a reputation for composing memorable melodies and highly-cinematic musical themes.
His sixth album, AFTER THE STORM, continues his visual style with original music that reflects a dramatic maturing as an individual as well as his growing love of the ocean.
For more information or to purchase Jeffrey Michael CDs, go to www.fireheartmusic.com.
Jeffrey was a musical child prodigy who began playing piano at age six, performed the theme from "Chariots of Fire" at seven, started composing at 11, recorded his first project at 15 and sold 5,000 albums locally before he was 18. Now 27, his sales are at more than 150,000 albums internationally and he has performed in front of more than eight-and-a-half-million people. He also has composed and recorded music for 37 film projects.
In addition, Jeffrey has created music for the videogame SEDA-X2, played soccer throughout Europe, developed entrepreneurial money-making websites, co-founded the eclectic-rock band Third Floor, wrote music for top advertising agencies such as J. Walter Thompson in Chicago, and licensed songs to television (channels such as Oxygen, Bravo and the Sci-Fi Channel as well as various reality shows).
"In the past two years while I was writing the material for AFTER THE STORM, I really felt like I grew up, became more stable and clarified where I want to head in the future," explains Jeffrey. He spent much of his time the last few years living at the ocean in Florida and California, and his appreciation of the natural beauty of the world around him also is part of the music on his latest album. The centerpieces of the CD are the back-to-back tunes "The Storm" and "After The Storm" which combined are 11 minutes long. "I tried to capture the sound of an ocean storm in the music, and the feeling of calm and quiet afterwards, but the titles also serve as a metaphor for the difficulties we all face in life and how it feels when we work our way through them."
Several other tunes on the album were inspired by beach living. "When I moved to Huntington Beach south of Los Angeles, I started surfing every day, especially at sunrise and sunset when it is so peaceful. That's where 'Tidal Wave' came from. Just south of there is Laguna Beach where the cover photo was taken and where I sat watching the sun go down when I wrote 'The Edge of the Ocean.' Staring out over the water also inspired the piece 'Beyond the Horizon'."
Other songs include "Aurora" ("that special time at dawn"), "Stillness" ("right after the sun goes down when everything is peaceful"), "Enchanted" ("the magical moments we encounter throughout life"), and "The Journey" ("I travel all over the country to perform so it's a journey that never ends"). The album concludes with "The Dreamer's Waltz" which is the first song Jeffrey ever wrote. An earlier version appeared on his first album, but the arrangement has changed over the years. "This melody means a lot to me. It really is a dream come true to be able to present this music to the world since it represents my musical beginnings."
Jeffrey was born and raised in Sterling Heights, Michigan. He now spends his winters in the Tampa/St. Petersburg-area of Florida and his summers in Michigan. His earliest musical memory is his great-grandmother playing the piano, and when she died, his family inherited the instrument. But his mother told the six-year-old not to touch the piano because she feared he would damage it. Fortunately for the world of music, Jeffrey didn't obey her and learned by ear after listening to songs played by a babysitter.
Although Jeffrey spent most of his time playing sports (soccer, hockey and baseball), music became more of a priority when his uncle played him some new age albums by George Winston, David Lanz and Suzanne Ciani. The 11-year-old Jeffrey decided he could write and perform music in that style.
The next year Jeffrey saw the movie "Amadeus" and felt he could relate to Mozart's life. "I saw a lot of similarities because I was writing instrumental music at a young age and I had a wild and crazy side to my personality." When Jeffrey was 14 he heard the music to the movie "Legends of the Fall" and decided he also wanted to compose film scores. "My piano melodies have become more cinematic over the years." He has compiled a collection of more than a thousand soundtrack recordings and most admires film composers such as John Williams, James Horner, Thomas Newman, Alan Silvestri and Hans Zimmer.
That same year Jeffrey broke his right hand and could barely use it to play piano for many months which caused him to develop his left hand much more fully than many pianists. Now he is known for his dexterous two-hand counterpoint melodies.
At age 15 Jeffrey borrowed $1,000 from his father, went to a recording studio and made a tape that to sell at school. In two weeks Jeffrey paid his dad back. The next year Jeffrey made another tape. By the time he graduated, he had sold 5,000 albums of instrumental music primarily to high schoolers!
After he turned 17, he purchased a synthesizer and began recording his music digitally. When he was 18 and going to Eastern Michigan University, he started his record company, Fireheart Music, and in 1996 put out the all-original INSPIRATIONS as his first nationally-released album. He began performing at hotels and restaurants in the Detroit area, and at Borders and Barnes & Nobles stores throughout the Midwest. The next year he took some business courses as well as a music theory course at Schoolcraft College and also began scoring governmental and industrial videos while he was there.
In 1999 he released two albums simultaneously -- the cold-weather holiday recording WINTER SPIRITS and SAILING TO THE STARS, a collection of tunes from movies and musicals ("Titanic," "The Lion King," "Braveheart," "Cats," "Phantom of the Opera") plus four original similarly-styled pieces. REFLECTIONS (2000) was original compositions plus Pachelbel's "Canon in D" and was followed two years later by the all-original KALEIDOSCOPE (2002). His initial five albums contained piano music with gentle synthesizer orchestrations in the background.
However, AFTER THE STORM, is his first album to feature all solo piano playing. Since the late Nineties, Jeffrey has been touring the United States (with occasional performances in Europe) playing small concerts nationwide and also featured at many of the top-rated Fine Art and Craft Festivals.
Jeffrey's film and television composing has ranged from indie horror films like "Biker Zombies" to action-suspense films such as "The Agent" to drama films such as "The Living and The Dying." He also will be handling the music for a series of on-line vignettes called "The Superheroes" that will eventually become a full-length film. Jeffrey's film music ranges from solo piano to orchestral to eclectic-rock. He sometimes utilizes his band Third Floor which mixes influences such as Coldplay, Jack Johnson and Duncan Sheik.
Other musical inspirations in recent years include Pink Floyd, John Tesh, Jim Brickman, Evanescence, David Gray and The Dave Matthews Band. Jeffrey also is looking forward to composing more music for the videogame industry.
"My music has probably been influenced the most by film scores over the years," states Jeffrey, "but everything from sports to nature to traveling has also inspired my art. I think of my piano music as the soundtrack to my life. I believe my six albums chart my progress as a composer. I want to keep writing new melodies that are as good as possible, and linking them to images whenever possible."