A Chat With: Michael Tinholme

Christmas albums may be the norm this time of year but Jazz artist Michael Tinholme brings a warming personal touch to the traditional that the industry simply isn’t used. With every song bearing a personal and emotional resonance to Michael, we saw fit to have a chat and dive between the lines of “It’s Christmas In The City”…

HY: At the moment, who is your favourite artist who is under the radar and why?

As a singer I really like Young Blood he’s got a great voice and Strong Presence. Caught him on a David Bowie event with my friend Mike Garson, he sang “Life on Mars” and killed it. I also think Rumor is fantastic-would love to work with her.

HY: Why is it, you think, so many talented musicians go completely unnoticed?

Great talent and the connections and the resources to promote great talent are completely separate topics. Most or 95% or more of the Playlists are owned by major labels or large outlets. It’s very hard to compete against their powerful resources. That also is true of event promoters, even harder now because allot of promoters have gone out of business due to the pandemic. Its all pay to play. But that doesn’t mean artist can’t break through.

HY: What’s the hardest thing for a musician trying to break out of obscurity right now?

Obscurity, of course it can be a great weight on a talented artist, because as artists we tend to want acknowledgment and approval of our work and the energy and emotion and spirit that goes into creating that art. Obscurity can also fuel the passions and intensity necessary to became a great artist. There are reasons for all things under the blue sky. Working on the reasons first without emotion, being analytical helps. Get your career on paper, every aspect of it in front of you on paper. large goals, small goals, considerations, strengths, upside& downside, fall back positions and alternate strategies, but it is always a lack of understanding as a weakness that destroys.

The terrain for the music business has been moving under our feet, so many promoters have gone out of business, this is also true for Venues, Tour companies. The whole business is down 35% or more. Its what you don’t know that will get you. So know everything. Build a team you can have confidence in, build a business plan that can introduce you, and sustain you. Don’t forget, great art will always find its way, be true to that, and you have already found success, the acknowledgments will follow.

HY: Would you say you’re currently ‘under the radar’? If so, how does it feel on an emotional level?

Under the Radar as to world wide “notoriety”, yes, so far. Stardom is not as important to me as performing recording and becoming a better artist.

Emotionally, I know that I’m greatly fortunate, to have the respect and encouragement from giants in our business. Tom Fowler & Dennis Moody who opened the world to me. The greatest band of friends ever, Mike Garson, Brandon Fields, Randy Brecker, Gary Novak, Edwin Livingston, Mike Miller and so many more. They brought me along, not the opposite, I owe them everything.

My only focus is to win for my team who invested so generously in me, and the music that we have created together. They deserve a world class win. I will run my heart out, until they have it.

HY: How much responsibility of an artist being ‘under the radar’ falls to the artist themselves? Or does it also lie with the music industry as a whole?

Its a big picture thing. Now there are obviously forces that needed to be addressed and considered and dealt with in all careers. This is a hard thing to hear, I know because when I first heard this, I recoiled, and I took it personally. Because, I have failed so many times.

“There is someone right now achieving what you want for yourself” “Failure is a choice” “Success is a choice,” own them both and the world is yours and doors will open wide for you.

HY: The ‘Christmas Album’ is a concept that has been a part of musical culture for years – what made you decide to release your own?

I have always idealized the Holiday but from afar, I’ve always wanted to know what it was like to be surrounded by a loving happy family. I guess being an optimist I see the season as a chance to begin anew with each other, and I still do.

My Xmas CD, is my attempt to feel that joy and belonging for myself. Kind of selfish actually. Every song on this CD has a personal meaning to me.

HY: Is there any significance behind the covers you chose to do?

Sleigh Ride was about recording a song that the Nestor Kids could treasure as memory for the rest of their lives. “Moonlight in Vermont” is one of my favorite songs recorded be Ella Fitzgerald, it’s kind of a tribute to her. “Christmas Time Is Here” is a magical song that I’ve always wanted to put my stamp on. “I’ll be home for Christmas” Is for my Dad. “Auld Lang Syne” can’t think of another song that conveys more hope for tomorrow and sorrow’s for yesterday, in so few measures. “I’ll be Home for Christmas” There’s my longing again. My original ‘“When Winter Falls on NYC” is my love song to New York and Christmas time. “Happy Christmas War is Over” by John Lennon came out when my Dad was in Vietnam.

In my view its one of the most effective songs for “PEACE” that has ever been written. It was honor to record it. “Maybe Next Year” is my prayer for hope and re-conciliation, restoration and peace.

HY: How will Michael Tinholme be spending his Christmas this year?

It’s always a small Christmas for me, but its full of love for my family and friends, more about remembering those who loved me and gave and sacrificed and resolved to move me forward. when I was determined to be lost. They changed my heart and my notions of what could possible for myself. I will spend the day feeling blessed to be at this moment in time that they made possible, no matter how it turns out for me.

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