Michael is in rare company as a lead-singing keyboardist. His voice glides easily from sophisticated Sinatra era jazz standards to screamin’ AC/DC, soulful Bruno Mars, and hip hop’s Macklemore. Legitimacy and flexibility across a vast range of styles is Michael’s hallmark.
Benny Green, E.W. & F, Tower Of Power, Tony Bennett, Sting, Steely Dan, James Taylor, Pat Metheny.
Paramount Theater, The Kingdome.
PLACES TO GET AWAY:
Case Inlet, Cabo San Lucas, Desolation Sound, B.C.
Scuba diving, Alpineskiing, Hiking, Boating, Waterskiing, Vegetable Gardening, Beach Vacations
Grilled Sockeye Salmon.
At age 12, Michael began his professional music career on Mercer Island, as lead singer/lead guitarist in a rock ‘n roll band called “Spring Fever.” The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Sly & The Family Stone, The Doors, and Chicago all provided the earliest inspiration for Michael. The band played together for five years at local dances. At the tender age of 14, Michael and “Spring Fever” were picked to join other selected bands from around the nation at a week-long pop music seminar for music educators in Madison, Wisconsin. That was July ’69, the summer of Woodstock. There, his band shared the concert billing with four other bands, including The Bob Seger System.
An interest in jazz led him to study with noted jazz pianist Jerry Gray in his junior year of high school. Jazz became his new passion, and while going on to earn his B.A. in Music Education at the UW School of Music, Michael formed a jazz quintet, for which he composed and arranged. This quintet eventually led to the establishment of The Michael Benson Band in 1975.
From ‘78 to ‘90, Michael Benson was a high school jazz and concert choir director in Seattle and Shoreline. He also taught Afro-Cuban percussion, stage band, and guitar…a truly multi-ethnic experience! His students kept feeding him current dance hits of the day, in all styles, and this cemented his passion for the wide range of music he now loves to perform. During the Ingraham, Chief Sealth, Shoreline and Shorewood High School years, he arranged and composed over 60 songs for choral ensembles. In ’87, he earned a Master’s in Secondary Choral Music Education from the UW, which he put to good use for the remaining years of his high school teaching career.
In June 1990, Michael took a leave of absence from Shorewood in order to complete his debut album release, “SUNLIGHT OF THE HEART,” currently available from Whitecap Records. The album was released throughout the U.S. and northern Europe, where it was played on over 120 radio stations. Despite fan support in radio markets around the country, distribution problems with the CD resulted in modest sales.
In 1993, Michael helped co-write and produce, with then rising star Loni Rose, a Christmas single for the Northwest titled “Evergreen Christmas”. Her song played on 22 Northwest radio stations and sold briskly in it’s debut year. Today it is a top-ten Northwest Christmas hit. “Evergreen Christmas” launched a career for Loni (http://www.lonirose.com/fr_home.cfm) that has long since gone into overdrive, with recording contracts, songwriting agreements, nationwide collaboration and concerts. Oh, and Loni was also one of Michael’s guitar and choir students at Shorewood H.S.!
In 1995, Michael helped co-produce, along with his former Shorewood H.S. student Oman Quijano, Seattle based R & B group “Second Nature”, who was first recorded on his label, Whitecap Records. They were later released on Intermix Records and toured nationally for two years.
In the fall of 1992, Michael continued his teaching career, but this time at the elementary level, where he delivered vocal and general music instruction to Syre Elementary students aged 5-9. He continued this on a part-time basis until June 2007, when the MB Band became his sole professional focus. Today, The Michael Benson Band is the single most sought-after band in the Northwest, playing about 70 non-club dates a year, many of them booked over a year in advance.