This Is Stephen Michael.
His jokes and banter are part of his hallmark, a sign of his hometown authenticity that quickly endears audiences to him. His lyrics are a protective surface over the memories that run deep inside of him, a way to reflect on and understand experiences both good and bad.
A photojournalist turned K9 Unit police officer turned songwriter and performer, Stephen Michael is raising a new genre of Southern music, one that melds Mississippi music traditions and celebrates what it means to make music from this place -- the Delta.
No other personal and professional background but Stephen’s unique life could lead to the stories he conveys in his profound lyrics. In fact, he credits his time as a K9 officer as what taught him to be a storyteller through his music. "Learning to communicate with a dog who does not speak or understand you teaches you the ability to connect without using language. This is what has taught me to listen more in life and truly appreciate stories," says Stephen.
Audiences have taken note. “The piece that I gave gives no peace to me,” (No Peace to Me), “voices from the past ridin’ on the breeze (Ghost), and ”the best damn stories come from those with scars” (Scars) are examples of Stephen’s lines that audiences grasp onto when watching him perform in his signature look of blue jeans and work boots.
Stephen’s motto is “Living, Loving, Learning,” a directive to himself and others that is branded on his leather guitar strap. The way audiences find his lyrics relatable and his guitar style moving has earned him notable industry appearances, including being selected to perform at the 2019 Muscle Shoals (AL) Songwriters Festival and other greater Memphis live music venues. (View upcoming shows.)
While Stephen most recently found peace and healing in music, particularly as he overcomes the memories of traumatic and life-threatening experiences from his time in law enforcement, he has always had music in his life. His father was a Mississippi pastor and bought Stephen his first guitar. Stephen taught himself to play it. As a child, Stephen sung old hymns in little country churches and listened to classic country and rock greats on the radio. He channels all of these life chapters into his songwriting and performances today.
Stephen’s debut album, No Peace for Me, was recorded in Memphis with producer Nathan Black at Electraphonic Recording. Stephen wrote the album’s title song, “No Peace for Me,” as a way to tell his own personal story of dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and to tell others suffering from PTSD that they are not alone. At every show Stephen performs, audience members can be seen connecting their own experiences with the song.
This is what compels Stephen to continue to use his musical gifts. He wants to bring the healing gift of music to others.
Stephen is the co-creator of and poster child for the new MissiHippie Music movement.