Michael Peter Smith Reviews & Bio

Michael Peter Smith

 "His songs are so resonant with layers of myth and magic and so perfectly enhanced by the genuine beauty of his melodies and instrumental arrangements that you can listen to a single one over and over for a whole day and feel happy." 

Featured among a list of luminaries in Paul Zollo's 2016 book: More Songwriters on Songwriting (Da Capo Press), Michael Peter Smith is as productive as ever! He recently released Songwriting, a CD recording that is part master class, part memoir. Recorded at WFMT Studio in Chicago. Songwriting was featured on the music program Sweet Folk Chicago , and is available at CD Baby. Link: http://www.jamieoreilly.com/smith-songwriting-cd-mail/ 

Michael has been singing, writing and touring in North America for over five decades. His songs of been recorded by artists the world over. His song The Dutchman is considered a classic in the folk lexicon. This self-taught musician is also an award-winning composer. As a now beloved master in the folk music scene, Michael continues to deliver the goods. Time and again, audience report an evening with him is an unforgettable appearance. As a soloist, Michael has been a program highlight at musical venues and and at folk festivals from Kerrville, Texas to Shawano, WI and Toronto, CA. Michael's East Coast tours, as both a solo artist, and in performance with Anne Hills , have brought him to folk venues and concerts halls from Princeton, NJ to Cambridge, Mass. 


Michael Smith's Moby Dick Michael regularly contributes songs and original scores to the finest theaters in United States and internationally. An avid reader, Smith's work often the finest poets and authors: Lorca, Steinbeck, Wilde, Mistral, Brecht, Jackson, Stevenson, among the many. His most recent project Michael P. Smith's Moby Dick features original songs inspired by the seminal American classic, setting the texts from Herman Melville's novel as sea shanties, story-songs, ballads and anthems. Strong, swarthy, infectious, and infused with Smith’s signature poignant melodies, the songs of Moby Dick are reminiscent of 19th century balladry, and capture the tantalizing power of seafaring life. The 20 original compositions are performed with stirring vocals and Michael’s fine guitar playing. As strong a collection as any in the 21st century Americana folk music lexicon, Moby Dick may be some of Michael’s best work! 


Michael is engaged by, and for estimable cultural institutions. In the past few years, he was a featured artist/songwriter for the Poetry Foundation in the programs And the Poet Sang, and in Brecht's Love Poems (with Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble members). A sampling of Illinois host-venues alone includes The Museum of Contemporary Art, DePaul Humanities Center, Logan Center for the Arts, Lookingglass Theater at Waterworks, Old Town School of Folk Music, The Woodstock Opera House, Irish American Heritage Center, Roosevelt University's Ganz Hall, the Chicago History Museum, and Northwestern University Thorne Auditorium. 


Michael's extensive catalog of original compositions includes critically acclaimed theatrical scores, recordings, and songs for award-winning theatrical productions. He wrote the music for the 1990 Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf production The Grapes of Wrath (1990). Michael Margaret Pat & Kate (1994) at Victory Gardens Theatre earned him four Joseph Jefferson Citations, including Best Original Music. In 2009, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Woodstock Folk Festival. The Snow Queen was a winner of Denmark's prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. Michael’s songs for Hello Dali From the Sublime to the Surreal (2000), received an After Dark Award for Best New Work for Victory Gardens Theater. His songs have been featured in four Chicago Humanities Festivals. 


In recent years, Michael worked extensively with celebrated puppeteer/producer Blair Thomas, including in a touring production of The Brotherhood of the Monastic Order of Ancient Mariners Purges the Ills of Society Through a Reading of the Tales of Moby-Dick, performed at the The Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes in Charleville, France. A workshop production was also mounted at Virginia Tech University, and had a limited run at the prestigious Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Another Thomas collaboration is their piece based on Oscar Wilde's The Selfish Giant, a highlight in the Chicago International Puppet Festival, and touring for the Children’s Theatre Production. Michael contributed music to Edward Gorey's The Vinegar Works for Loyola University Museum of Art. Blair and Michael collaborated on The Snow Queen for Chicago's Victory Gardens Theater, with Tony/Academy Award-winning director Frank Galati. 


The Heart Songs of Opal Whiteley was written with longtime collaborator Anne Hills. Anne has performed the music as a multimedia theater piece, and solo concert. These lifelong friends continue to tour together and collaborate on songwriting. 


Michael’s 20 year collaboration with Chicago vocalist, producer Jamie O'Reilly resulted in a formidable series of folk-cabarets: Pasiones: Songs Of The Spanish Civil War (1997), directed by Peter Glazer, was written in collaboration with veterans of the legendary Abraham Lincoln Brigade. The stirring cabaret was seen at Chicago's Theater on the Lake, and toured to New York City, San Francisco, Oakland, Allentown, PA and more. The recording in 6 languages is sold around the world. Michael composed music for the box office hit Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal (2000). Their production received two After Dark Awards for Best New Work and Best Ensemble for Victory Gardens Theater. Other original productions and recordings with Jamie O’Reilly include The Gift of the Magi (2003) for Judith Svalander Dance Theatre at the Woodstock Opera House, the chamber opera Songs of the Kerry Madwoman (2006) for the DePaul Humanities Center, and the Chicago Humanities Festival. Their most recent program and recording Songs of a Catholic Childhood (2011), is performed as “pub-dinner theater” and is beloved by both practicing and latent catholic Baby boomer audiences. 

 For booking information please contact Jamie O’Reilly, mps_booking@jamieoreilly.com, Or call 773.203.7661 

Anne Hills Bio

Anne Hills

 Anne Hills is one of the most beloved voices of the contemporary folk music scene, receiving awards and recognition for her live performances, her unique solo and collaborative recording projects, and her overall artistry and benefit work. Her song “Follow That Road” was the title cut of the Martha’s Vineyard Songwriter Retreat and has been a certified folk classic since the late 1990s. Whether she is singing her own songs, the words of six-year-old Opal Whiteley, or her song settings of the Hoosier poet James Whitcomb Riley; accompanied with her guitar, banjo, or simply a Tibetan bell, she puts her whole heart and soul into the moment. You won’t want to miss a chance to hear her songs and stories in person. She tours extensively, winning over audiences with her warm, lively and humorous performances. The AllMusic Guide says, “A stunning soprano tone has made Anne Hills one of contemporary music’s premiere vocalists … Her knack for writing heartfelt songs [has] brought her to the upper echelon of her craft.” and Tom Paxton says, “Anne Hills is such an exquisite singer that it’s understandable that people might be swept up in the pure beauty of her voice and thereby overlook her writing. That would be a mistake. For me, Anne’s writing, in songs like ‘Follow That Road’ and many others, is as direct, melodic and deep as any work being done today. She is quite simply one of my absolute favorite songwriters.” Hear more from Anne at: www.annehills.com