As a military brat, he was born in southern California and grew up in both southern Alabama and northern Virginia. Michael attended the University of North Texas' jazz studies program for 4 years, then moved to nearby Dallas for another 3 years, where we worked with some of the most influential figures in modern gospel, R&B, and soul music, and was mentored by legendary keyboardist Bernard Wright (Miles Davis, Chaka Khan).
Performing, recording, and production credits include mainstream artists such as Salif Keita, David Crosby, Kirk Franklin, Bobby McFerrin, Susana Baca, Lalah Hathaway, Israel Houghton, Marvin Sapp, Walter Hawkins, Donnie McClurkin, Laura Mvula, Patti Austin, Lucy Woodward, DJ Logic, and Musiq Soulchild, as well as jazz artists like Chris Potter, Wayne Krantz, Ari Hoenig, Adam Rogers, Lionel Loueke, Terence Blanchard, Roy Hargrove, Eric Harland’s Voyager band, Charlie Hunter, John Ellis, and Ambrose Akinmusire, among others.
Michael runs the Grammy Award-winning instrumental music ensemble Snarky Puppy, whose grass-roots approach to the changing music industry has met major critical and commercial success. Their albums reached #1 on the ITUNES Jazz and #5 on the Billboard Jazz charts in 2013 and 2014, and their collaboration with Lalah Hathaway on the Family Dinner - Volume One DVD resulted in a Grammy for “Best R&B Performance” in 2014. Michael’s efforts as a bandleader and bassist earned him an interview in the Random House release "The New Face of Jazz" alongside the likes of Wynton Marsalis and Sonny Rollins, as well as the cover spot on the August 2014 issue of Bass Player Magazine, the largest bass publication in the world. After years of horn and string arranging for dozens of studio albums, Michael stepped into the world of full-blown orchestral arranging in 2014 with an hour-long suite of music entitledSylva, written specifically for the multi-Grammy-winning Metropole Orchestra and Snarky Puppy.
Now in Brooklyn, Michael has his hands in dozens of pots. He spends the majority of his time producing and arranging for an eclectic blend of artists on both independent and major labels. In early 2012, he launched his own imprint, GroundUP Music, under Ropeadope Records.
Michael is passionately committed to music education and outreach, having given clinics at over 150 schools throughout the United States, Canada, Asia, Pacific, and Europe. He also works closely with several non-profit organizations in the United States and holds open-ended artist-in-residence positions at various educational institutions around the world.
“I've played a lot of gigs that require one nice, supportive bass sound all night—Snarky Puppy is not one of them," says Michael. "I have to have clarity, beef, natural warmth, the versatility to handle ambitious effect choices, and the power and depth to support a deep, resonant keybass. I thought it was impossible to find a rig that could do it all without compromise, until now. Not to mention the fact that the people at Markbass really care about music, and sound. I spent 2 hours on the phone with them as they helped craft the perfect combination of gear for what I needed. Now, I can't imagine playing anything else.”