Monday, September 29, 2008

Songs from Down Under

Michael Johns is in Australia to participate in a fund-raising telethon. While there, he was interviewed by a few radio stations. In fact, Michael sang. Watch the video of an acoustic version of Fool's Gold performed at the studio of the Merrick Rosso & Kate Ritchie Show. According to Michael, this song is representative of the blues/soul sound of his album and he mentions the influences of Van Morrison and Joe Cocker.

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Michael was also at the Kyle and Jackie O Show, singing a cover version of Jason Mraz's I'm Yours. Is that a tiny bit of Bob Marley I hear?

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On Sunrise tv, Michael sang The Beatles' Across The Universe. Earlier this year, Dr. Condoleezza Rice told Michael how much she had enjoyed his performance of this song on American Idol.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Rising Live At The Applestore



On July 11th, 2003, Michael Johns (then known by his birth name Michael Lee), together with his band The Rising, performed an acoustic set of songs from their album Future Unknown, which was scheduled for released on September 9th that same year. Label issues forced the release to be cancelled. Future Unknown was finally released in 2008 when Michael Johns appeared as a finalist on tv's American Idol show. Watch the band perform their songs.


Redemption
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Cradle
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Lie To Me
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So Alive
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Coming Down
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Saturday, September 20, 2008

So Who is Michael Johns? (Part Three)

MICHAEL JOHNS

In this segment, we continue our journey with Michael Johns (formerly known as Michael Lee) while he was lead singer for newly formed group The Rising. They wrote and recorded their debut album and perfected the level of excellence they expected before taking their tour nation wide.

The band was well on its way to the stardom all of them should now be enjoying. They performed on The Rock Boat, and were featured on The Sharon Osbourne Show, a nationally sydicated television program. Ozzy's wife is well known for having good taste, and knows exceptional talent when she sees it.

In 2003, the group performed an outstanding acoustical set at the opening of a Los Angeles Apple Store. Thankfully, that event was recorded and has been released for download as The Rising - Live At The Apple Store, EP. Clicking on the link above will take you directly to the EP, which can be heard on Amazon.com.

Taking their music on the road, the group was determined to put everything that they had into their live performances. It wasn't enough to play for the fans, they wanted the audience to feel the emotion that went into writing the songs.

Groups of this calibre and uncompromising stardards are rarely found any more. Legendary bands whose music survives even now and spans decades, practiced that same gift when they performed. Inexplicably, they somehow knew what it took to connect with their audience.

Though The Rising as a band is no longer together, we are left with their stellar performances. It seems I'm not the only writer to accuse this singer and fellow musicians of evoking in us, emotions unbidden. While researching former band members for this piece, I ran across yet another writer who noticed Michael's gift of expressing the feeling that went into the artists rendition of the music.

In a blog posted at former Rising guitartist Kevin Haaland's music website, I found the following excerpt from an article by Sona Soob.

Live Review - The Rising @ The Roxy
The Rising- Live Review
Category: Music

The band took the stage with sophistication and proved they could win over a Los Angeles crowd. The lyrics are heart felt and moving as the emotions can be heard seeping out in every note Michael sings. Down to the blood that was on Kevin's fingers after the set, this band truly believes in the power of music and it comes across in their performances. Michael Lee once said he wants to create the kind of music "that puts you in a trance". This band indeed creates timeless music which will carry you away into a different world.

- excerpt from a www.riftrock.com article by Sona Sood.
You would think with the rave reviews like the one above, just landing a "Major" label contract with Maverick Records and playing brilliantly should assure the band's successful future. Most people believe that's all it takes to succeed in the music world. Just get yourself a major label record deal and play extraordinarily well in front of your audience. The equation sounds simple enough. Massive talent + Major label = Superstardom.

In my opinion, this talent's rise to fame was a certainty, had the "Major" label offered its stars proper marketing, a.k.a. promotion. The Rising recorded thirty five songs while with this "Major" label. Eleven of those magnificent tunes ended up on its debut album.

One has to wonder, what happened to the other twenty four songs that were done? What motive might a record label have for signing a band, and then do nothing in marketing to assure that talent's success? It's no wonder record labels are folding right and left, while more and more biz savvy artists choose to go independent. (Indie)

Michael Johns and Rick Beato co-produced the debut CD The Rising - Future Unknown. This album enjoys five star reviews at such sites as Amazon.com and iTunes, and it's some of the best down to earth rock music that I've ever heard. A number of songs from the album got national radio play while the band toured.

The five stars on this album should be reaping the rewards of their five star performances, but here's what happened instead. The "Major" label that was to release the CD on September 16, 2003 originally, withheld release of the album until Michael Johns became well known as a finalist on American Idol. That's when the label decided to put the CD on iTunes and cash in on Michael Johns' success.

Someone at that label should be questioning their own intuition as to what talents they should be marketing. Five years of potential album sales have already been lost to the label and the artists. Whoever's judgment the label relied upon at the time, apparently had no clue of the magnitude of this band's superstar potential.

Being trusted to decide what to market or withhold from the public should be left to someone with a better sense of what true music lovers want to hear. That ineptitude led to the label passing up millions in sales, all because someone there was unable to recognize what they already had signed to their label. Not a good trait to have in the music business, in my opinion.

Thankfully, Michael Johns' story doesn't end here. The live EP and full length CD can be heard by clicking on the named releases listed above. Videos of the band performing at the opening of the Apple Store are available and will be posted for your viewing pleasure on our website in the near future. In the meantime, please enjoy the video "Cradle" by The Rising. A song from the album, "Future Unknown".



Thursday, September 18, 2008

It's All Wrong, But It's All Right, Miss Dolly!

Every time I watch this video of Michael Johns singing "It's All Wrong, But It's All Right", written by the legendary Dolly Parton, all I can say is, "Damn!". Definitely his most memorable performance on tv's American Idol.

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Michael recorded a slightly different version which you can listen to below.



And here's the song as sung by the lovely Dolly, with a small surprise at the end of the video. Michael went to a Dolly Parton concert when he was a little boy. Years later, she wants to write songs for him. I hope she finds the time to do it. That would probably elicit an unprintable response from me.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Michael Johns' New Record

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Kansas City Star music writer Tim Finn sat down with Michael Johns before his performance at the Sprint Center. Michael talks about his upcoming album, which he says will have a bit of an INXS vibe, a little Gnarls Barkley and even, gasp! a little bit of The White Stripes. That whole rock/blues/soul thing.

He's been writing songs with Diane Warren and John Shanks and volunteers that Linda Perry wants to submit some songs. Michael has been hard at work and has recorded the first 8 of the 25 songs for the record. He's also working with some up and coming producers, Ken Andrews, Matt Mahaffey and Dave Cobb.

The first single is due to be released in November. Michael describes it as something you could dance to, a little sexy, and will most likely remind you of Need You Tonight by INXS. Is it November yet?

Hit Man: David Foster and Friends

Michael Johns, Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, Michael Buble, Brian McKnight, Kenny G, Katherine McPhee, Boz Scaggs, Blake Shelton and Peter Cetera were some of the $20 million worth of talent who came to sing the praises of the Grammy-winning songwriter and record producer David Foster in May this year. Three days of rehearsals went into the spectacular production. Called Hit Man: David Foster and Friends, the show will be airing in November. Watch the trailer to the upcoming PBS special.



The CD/DVD will be in stores from November 11, 2008. Michael Johns' Beauty/Man In Motion performance will be on the DVD.

Monday, September 15, 2008

So Who Is Michael Johns?

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Michael Johns

If you're an American Idol fan, you already know Michael Johns is the sexy Aussie whose unexpected elimination caused an American uproar to sweep the nation in AI Season 7, which aired in 2007-2008. With the American Idol Tour 2008 just ended on September 13th, it's time to take an in depth look at the man, his past, his present, and his undeniable future.

For those of you who don't watch the "reality" show, I've included a picture and a description. What you can't really appreciate in the photo on a computer screen, are the proportions at which you're looking. Ahem, athletically speaking, he's a prime specimen of manliness. His 6' 3" height and muscular build give him a physical advantage in sports. Add to that his extremely competitive nature, and you've got yourself one Hot Aussie sportsman.

His musical journey in America began in 1998. That's when he left Australia and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where he lived for six years. He attended college at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, Georgia on a tennis scholarship. Michael was also a player with the Atlanta Kookaburras, a USAFL Australian football rules club while in Atlanta. He left college soon after arriving to pursue his musical career. For us fans, that's where his rise to fame begins.

This is the first in a series of articles exploring what it took to become the Michael Johns as we all know him. In the next article, we will more closely look into his past. Until then, here are a few quick notes about him.

* Birth Name: Michael John Lee
* Birth Place: Perth, Western Australia, Australia
* Date of Birth - 10/20/1978
* Zodiac sign: Libra
* Profession: Reality cast member; singer; musician

He is currently living in Los Angeles. Johns also plays the guitar and has been singing since age 5. He quickly became American Idol's Season 7 sex symbol with his tall-dark-handsome looks and charming personality. He was once a member of a band called The Rising.

Michael Johns Fast Facts:

* Moved to the United States when he was eighteen.
* Began college on a tennis scholarship, but left to pursue singing.
* Was the lead singer of two different bands: Film and The Rising.

Michael Johns Relationships:

* John Burke - Stepfather
* Janet Burke - Mother
* Stephen - Brother
* Cindy - Sister
* Stacey - Wife

College:

* Attended Abraham Baldwin Agriculture College, Tifton, GA

So Who Is Michael Johns? (Part Two)

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Before he was introduced to the world on American Idol with the stage name Michael Johns, that which all of us now know him, he was best known by his given name, which is Michael Lee. That was the name used as he performed with Jeff Bramwell and Hank Barbee while living in Atlanta. He is the Michael Lee who was lead singer on the EP released while with the band Film.

In 2001, Michael traveled to Los Angeles to showcase music for a number of labels, and was signed with Maverick Records. It was there he found band members Robb Torres and Kevin Haaland (guitarists), Ari Gorman (bass), and Kirke Blankenship (drums), to form the rock band The Rising.

The Rising's story is best described in the following interview with Michael, as published by:

While getting signed to Maverick Records was a major step for Atlanta-based rock group The Rising, the band realizes it's only the beginning. That's why the quintet is taking their music on the road, playing smaller venues and trying diligently to build a fan base. We're playing nearly every night, said frontman Michael Lee with traces of his native Australian accent still dangling. The singer admitted touring hasn't always been an enjoyable experience. At a lot of places, people still don't know who we are, he said. We're such a new band sometimes it's unpredictable. Lee has been singing in bands since he was very young, and was looking for a way to take it to the next level when he was given the answer by You Am I singer Tim Rogers, who was performing in 1997 at the Australian music festival Big Day Out. I'd always been a big fan of You Am I, so when they finished their set, I snuck backstage and approached lead singer Tim Rogers for advice, Lee said. He told me if I wanted to make something happen, I had to go to the States. The young singer packed his bags and headed for Atlanta instead of Los Angles or New York because he felt his chances were better in a smaller setting. Within a month, he met a fellow Aussie and club owner who gave him a job washing dishes and cleaning toilets and eventually allowed the fledgling vocalist to sit in occasionally with local bands. Eventually Lee met a guitarist and became the club's headlining cover band. The next few years, Lee spent days writing and honing original songs and nights performing covers. Recording a demo in 2001, Lee went to Los Angeles where he showcased for several labels, eventually inking an exclusive pact with Maverick Records. He then began assembling the elements of his new band, picking and choosing from the talent the LA music scene had to offer, including drummer Kirke Blankenship, guitarists Robb Torres and Kevin Haaland and bassist Ari Gorman. The newly forged The Rising realized they had an electrifying creative energy about them when they played their songs in front of an audience. With today's technology, anyone can record an album, but not everyone can pull it off live, Lee said. We elevate it to the next level when we play live. The singer admitted he wishes he could get into the studio and rerecord, but for now The Rising is currently touring for their debut release, Future Unknown, produced by Rick Beato and Lee, and recorded at Southern Tracks in Atlanta. All my life I dreamed of making an album like this with a band like this, Lee said. We want to be a source of inspiration, a reason to believe, a way of seeing the world. Maybe that's a lot to ask from a bunch of simple songs, but music has made a difference in all our lives. This is our way of passing it along.
What the interview doesn't say about The Rising, is the success they should now be enjoying. We'll delve even deeper into that subject on the next post.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Ken Andrews - Producer

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Ken Andrews is one of Michael Johns' favorite producers of all time. An excellent biography has been written in The Allmusic website by Vincent Jeffries.

Producer, singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Ken Andrews began his career as a recording artist in the early '90s after meeting fellow songwriter and musician Greg Edwards. The two Angelinos formed Failure and were signed shortly after they began performing their brand of heavy alt-rock in clubs around L.A. After enduring a creatively unsatisfying experience while working on Failure's debut, Comfort, Andrews felt that the group would be better off if he were to produce their future recordings himself. He was right; the Andrews-produced follow-up Magnified was far superior to Comfort in terms of the material, the musical structures and arrangements, and especially the blending of instruments — what might be called the sonic packaging.

{snip}

The career development of Andrews (from just another post-grunge songwriter in an almost indistinguishable band to respected rock artist, in-demand producer, engineer, mixer, and musician) is an amazing testament to his intelligence, talent, and commitment to recording rock music at only the highest level.



I've made a small playlist of songs written and produced by Ken. Enjoy the sonic experience.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Need You Tonight




Emily Ritchett of WXMI talks to Michael Johns. There’s lots of interesting stuff to listen to. I have selective hearing, and only focused on Michael’s new album. He’s recorded 8 songs and hopes to get the album done by Thanksgiving. That’s when he hopes to release his first single and the album in January/February next year. Just a snippet of the conversation:

Emily: What’s your first single going to be like?

Michael: I don’t know yet. Something that you can dance to, something that’s sexy, also something that rocks. More like Need You Tonight, INXS kind of thing.

Just for you, INXS and Need You Tonight from their album Kick.


Love Me Two Times

Interviewed by The Chevy Chaser Magazine recently, Michael Johns told writer Lindsay Caudill that The Doors’ “Love Me Two Times” describes him the best. Michael always talks about his music as being blues rock with soul. And finally, in the syncopated blues of “Love Me Two Times”, do I understand what he means.

Love Me Two Times by The Doors, from their album Strange Days.



From Michael Johns MySpace Music

This blog was just posted from Michael Johns MySpace Music page. I am reposting it here to share with the rest of his fans. Enjoy!

Friday, September 12, 2008

One show to go!!!

Hi everyone,

I wanted to write you guys and say thank you from the bottom of my heart. This has been the Summer of a lifetime. All of us have just had the time of our lives. It has been the most fun roller coaster ride ever. Playing in front of 10 000 plus people a night is something that is reserved for very few artists. There were certainly nights it was hard to muster the energy. However seeing the fans and feeling the music, lifted me up to new heights. I am going to be so busy over the next few months finishing my record and traveling. I will do my best to update you all. I will for sure be reading all your emails and messages on here, so please keep writing. This is only the beginning and i hope all of you are ready to join me on this amazing journey you have all put me on. I could never have done this with out all of your love and support.

"It Can Happen"

MJ