Michael’s official start as a composer/songwriter came in the summer of 1977, he notated two instrumental piano works instead of practicing for his next piano lesson. He played those two pieces for his piano teacher. She encouraged his creativity and the spark was ignited. He was 11.
Fast forward to the age of the Casiotone MT-70 keyboard and a cassette recorder he received on Christmas years later and there was no turning back. Rummaging through the many cassette “master” tapes in a box recently, he discovered that he had written/recorded well over 500 songs and instrumentals from 1977 to 1989 alone.
He attended East Carolina University’s School of Music and received a BM in theory/composition (electronic music, music business emphasis) followed by a MM in Music (composition). They hired him out of grad school to continue his work as recording engineer. It’s also where he met his wife, Tracy. He spent the next 21 years at ECU, teaching various courses including an online popular music course and serving under the dean of the College of Fine Arts & Communication as instructional designer/coordinator of technology & distance education. In 2011, he received a second masters degree, this time in Instructional Technology, also from ECU. In 2015, took a job at the University of Richmond, returning to his home state of Virginia, serving as assistant director for UR’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology. Michael is a realist: he knows making music for a living is very tough these days, so the “day job” keeps the bills paid while he toils away in the studio…working up new (hopefully) gems.
Michael did take a hiatus from creating music from 1999-2007, with a few exceptions when the need arose. During that time, he and his wife Tracy welcomed their daughter, Abigail. Abigail has even helped her dad write/record a few songs.
In 2008, Michael stumbled on the poetry of Sara Teasdale and was incredibly moved by her lyrical prose. He decided to pick 10 poems and set them in today’s electronic pop genre. The Teasdale project is a long-term project, so no release date is known.
In June 2016, Michael released a compilation album "Songs Through Time", comprised of brand-new songs and remastered or re-recorded tracks from the past 20+ years.
In December 2017, he released the "Christmas Lake" EP, containing four original instrumentals with a touch of holiday spirit.
In June 2018, Michael released the album, "Issues", containing 11 tracks (most new, and a couple previously unreleased songs re-envisioned). The album has a slightly more electronic and 80s nostalgic sound, touching on numerous genres as he is prone to do on albums.
In July 2019, Michael released all-instrumental new age/soundtrack EP, entitled "Aquarium", inspired by a large freshwater aquarium he once owned.
Michael is primarily a studio composer/songwriter. His music is challenging to play live, due to the gear used to make it. He played a one-man-band live set of new and old songs in November 2017…first time live in over 22 years…so it’s possible!
Michael Barrett Dixon’s tracks