Surname originally Bolotin; born c. 1955, son of George (local official in Democratic party) and Helen (an amateur songwriter) Bolotin; married Maureen (an exercise instructor), c. 1975 (divorced, 1990); children: Isa, Holly, Taryn. Addresses: Record company-- Columbia/CBS Records, 51 W. 52nd St., New York, N.Y. 10019.

Michael Bolton is a young singer and songwriter on the rise. With Laura Branigan's hit recording of his "That's What Love Is All About," he became a sought-after songwriter for artists such as Barbra Streisand, Cher, Kenny Rogers, and Kiss. Branigan was the first artist to record his popular single (written with Doug James) "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," in 1983. Bolton's own recording of the song became a hit and won him the 1989 Best Male Vocalist Grammy. His 1987 solo album, The Hunger, occupied the charts for the better part of the year. But it was Bolton's 1989 album Soul Provider that went platinum. Performing an eclectic mix of rock and roll, sentimental ballads, and soulful rhythm and blues--both his own compositions and classics--Bolton has captivated audiences with the power of his raspy, four-octave voice and with the emotional intensity he conveys in his music. Tall and well-built, with chiseled features and shoulder-length brown curls, Bolton has engaged a young female audience with his appearance as well.

Reviewing Michael Bolton, the singer's 1983 album, for the Wilson Library Bulletin, Bruce Pollock called it "the classic, leather-lunged Mister Macho sound of high-power rock ... honed to a glistening agony." Noting Bolton's kinship to singers Bob Seger and Bruce Springsteen, the critic nonetheless judged the young artist's "agony ... truly his own,... his dramatic, at times overly bombastic, but always convincing vocals crashing like breakers against the rocks." Stereo Review writer Alanna Nash, assessing another album-- Soul-Provider --reported that "Bolton's four-octave range can be powerful and spellbinding ... [as] he soars through some truly amazing flights of melody." But "his bigger gift is songwriting," decided the critic. "The songs here are all uncommonly soulful ... [and] reach an affecting level of angst."

Turning to music early, Bolton was eight when his parents rented a saxophone for him. Sitting in front of a mirror, he only pretended to play--but sang with abandon--indicating that "even then the voice was the main instrument for me," related Bolton in an interview with Seventeen. While lacking formal musical training, Bolton could always retain melodies and create harmonies when he performed at home or at school; most important of all, he was passionate about music, stirred by the possibility to communicate emotion. Thus soul performers like Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye were favorites: "They sing with feeling.... They're not inhibited about expressing emotion," Bolton explained. The young singer/songwriter penned his first composition--a love song--at the tender age of thirteen, and by fifteen had landed a record contract for the single (though its release, unfortunately, fell flat). Around 1982 Bolton finally tasted real success as a composer of rhythm and blues pieces for himself and other vocalists--his lyrics exploring "compelling things ... that hit hard and mean a lot." Bolton's performing career has mirrored the same steady progress. "Music is the air I breathe, how I express myself," he told Seventeen. "I want to move women to tears--and men--with my vocal ability and strength."

by Nancy Pear

Michael Bolton's Career

Songwriter, for himself and other vocalists, c. 1982--, for motion pictures, 1988--; featured performer and recording artist, c. 1982--.

Michael Bolton's Awards

Grammy Award for best male pop vocal, 1989.

Famous Works

Recent Updates

September 13, 2005: Bolton's album, 'Til the End of Forever, was released. Source: Billboard.com, www.billboard.com/bb/releases/week_7/index.jsp, September 14, 2005.

May 23, 2006: Bolton's album, Bolton Swings Sinatra, was released. Source: All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, May 29, 2006.

May 23, 2006: Bolton's album, Bolton Swings Sinatra, was released. Source: All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, May 29, 2006.

May 23, 2006: Bolton's album, Bolton Swings Sinatra, was released. Source: All Music Guide, www.allmusic.com, May 29, 2006.

Further Reading

Sources

Visitor Comments Add a comment…

almost 8 years ago

Eversince I heard Michael B and saw him on screen, I was sure this man will make it to the top...though I am younger, and into music too...I love his voice so much that I want to feel his strenght and emotion in his music. I can sing good but I cannot make a good melody for the lyrics I have made, but maybe few of them. But this Michael B, wow, fantastic!!! I wish I could meet this guy.

over 9 years ago

michael bolton!! u are the best ever