Local Musician Check-in: Michael Coleman

Posted on May 29, 2013 by


michael coleman ellen picker photography 2

Photo credit: Ellen Picker Photography

Michael Coleman has been a new showstopper in the Charlottesville songwriter scene, yet no stranger to the Cville Niche crew, playing herethere, everywhere! Frequenting The Local’s Monday night songwriter’s circle, Michael commands the crowd’s attention with the first melodic line he croons from the windowed storefront.

Whether singing solo with his guitar, or backed by his band members, Michael’s music will make you smile and give you chills, make you dance and bring a tear to your eye – all at the same time. His genuine songwriting and performance is both bold and humble. It only makes sense that this “love child of Dave Matthews and John Legend” be too dynamic for words. His music must be experienced.

Check out Michael this Friday, May 31, at The Southern for his Debut CD Release Show with local artists Erin & The Wildfire and Matthew McAllister opening the night. Doors at 7p, show at 8p, and the $8 cover INCLUDES his debut album Precious Time! So go out and enjoy an evening of amazing local talent, cause one day you can say, “I knew them back when!”

It was my pleasure to ask Michael some questions about his love for passionate music and how it translated into his songs for his upcoming debut CD release at The Southern.

A Q&A with Michael Coleman

Tell us a little about yourself: where you’re from; if not Cville, when did you come here?

I grew up in Madison County on the grounds of a private high school where my dad was (and still is) an administrator. Went to college at University of Richmond and settled in and around Charlottesville late 2010.

When and why did you start playing music/singing? What instruments do you play?

My parents played gospel music around the house since I can remember. My mom told me that I was clapping in rhythm before I could walk/talk. I started off on pots and pans when I was 5 or so and by age 8 was playing drums in church. I currently play drums, guitar and piano.

Most influential artist. Child? Teen? Adult?

Child: any gospel artist, Fred Hammond
Teen: Dave Matthews Band
Adult: DMB again

When did you write your first song/what was it about?

I wrote my first song in my dorm room junior year of college, circa 2009. It was about a friend who was going through a tough time just figuring out her life’s purpose. I think I played it once then retired it haha.

Photo credit: Ellen Picker Photography

Photo credit: Ellen Picker Photography

What influences your songwriting?

Relationships, life struggles. I’d say those are the two most important ones. I’m a fairly personal songwriter. Most of my songs directly relate to something that was going on in my life around the time I wrote it.

What aspects of life excite you and stir your affections, fuel your passions? (i.e. nature, heartbreak, joy, pain, relationships, serenity…)

Nature for sure. Growing up in the country, moving away from it and then returning has given me a deep respect and admiration for creation.

Heartbreak, pain and relationships are the major fuels.

I’m also fueled by injustices toward our fellow man. I hate to see someone looked down on and treated as less than because of difference in race, sex, orientation. I’ve found in recent years that it stirs something inside me that I didn’t realize existed.

When did you play your first gig as? What emotions and thoughts ran through your head after finishing?

My first gig was late 2010 at a little folk/bluegrass venue in Atlanta. I don’t even remember what it was called. I rented an acoustic guitar from a local store and had my roommate join me on djembe for the gig. I was deathly nervous but I had a good time. Probably not the right setting for the love child of Dave Matthews and John Legend.

michael coleman the southern

Do you get pumped or nervous pre-show?

I think I get pumped because I get nervous. I’ve never been one to try and stand out. As a drummer I laid low on stage… as an individual I would much rather blend… so there’s always a nervous energy leading up to the show. But I think I’ve learned how to harness the nervousness and turn it to positive focused energy. If I think to myself “just play like no ones there” then I’m usually fine.

What does a day in the life of a modern day songwriter look like from your perspective?

Well at this point in my career, I’m getting ready to release a record so lately things have been quite hectic leading up to the release show. But on a typical day, I work in the morning, work in the evening, get home around 11 and play some guitar, write a little bit. I think for any artist who is right at the beginning of their career things are a bit tough. I’m always wishing I had more time to focus on music but then I realize it’s this struggle, this challenge of balancing things and making ends meet, that fuels passion and energy and gives you a respect and appreciation for the freedom you have to express yourself through art.

What do you want people to take from hearing your music? (As a fan, also what do you want people to take from experiencing your live show?)

I want people to feel like they know me on a personal level. I want them to be entertained in a way that leaves them wanting more but at the same time seeing that I left it all out on the stage. I want them to feel the things I feel as I’m singing, to experience the same emotions they hear in my voice. But then I also want people to feel like they can relax and let loose and just have a good time… I think my music is good for that. It simultaneously challenges the mind and makes you want to move.

michael coleman album coverWhat is the feel and focus of your debut album Precious Time? And besides it being a track on the album, what’s behind the name?

Time seems to be a bit of a commodity to me. You want to have time to do this and that, time to spend with your loved ones, time to yourself etc. Also, I think at my age (25) there are a lot of different avenues I could’ve taken. I chose music, I chose to stick it out and work at my craft. And so the feel of this album is “this is what has come of the precious time spent on doing what I love.” The result of this time that was seemingly wasted running around playing anywhere and everywhere is this beautiful piece of work.

What does the not-so-distant future hold for Michael Coleman? Tell us about the upcoming CD release.

PUMPED for the CD release show at the Southern Café and Music Hall, Friday May 31! Matthew McAllister will be opening, as will be Erin and the Wildfire… two truly incredible acts, so much so that I’m a bit intimidated and honored to share the stage with them both. There will be a couple surprise musical guests, an awesome light show… and everyone who comes gets a CD! I’m so excited to share this music with the world.

Post cd release I’ll be hittin’ the road heading down South for about a week then heading north later this Summer.

Lastly…Describe yourself in 10 words. Be creative!

Loving, Passionate, Simple, Bold, Optimistic, Motivated, Dedicated, Childlike, Hopeful, Alive.


You can also see Michael Coleman playing drums for local band The Hill and Wood, featuring previous Music Check-in Sam Bush.