I've often been told that my music is "haunting and contagious", "relaxing and beautiful", "peaceful and touching". I've also been told that my music is "captivating" and that it transports the listener into worlds of imagination and wonder. For me though, my music is my story... it is my diary, my journal, my biography... a glimpse into my soul. If I could write this biography with music, it would definitely be a lot more interesting.
So where to begin... I started playing piano when I was very young. My earliest memories are around the age of 5, playing piano for show-n-tell in kindergarten. I've always had a musical ear, and could figure out any melody I heard. I've also always been drawn to pianos... if there was a piano or keyboard in the room, I gravitated toward it, longing to touch and play it. There has always just been a connection between the piano and I.
When I was 8, my parents took me to see George Winston in concert. We were right by the stage, on the left hand side, I could see his hands so clearly and closely and I was mesmerized. I remember thinking a wide-eyed "WOW!" and I thought everything about George and his music and being up on that stage playing for a concert hall full of people was just super cool.
After that I spent months learning how to play his songs by ear. I would put the CD in, listen to a few measures, and then plunk it out as best I could. Before long, I was playing entire George Winston tunes, and though I didn't realize it at the time, I was also learning how to play. See, I never took lessons. Well, that's not entirely true, I did take lessons for a very brief moment in time and I hated it. Lessons took all the fun out of playing. Lessons made playing the piano a miserable, horrible, unpleasant chore, and that just didn't work for me. So instead, I just learned to play by listening to other musicians, and it wasn't long before I was composing my own songs.
It's kind of funny, because I was very shy about my music growing up. I would write songs, but then I'd be too embarrassed to share them with anyone. Over the years, I composed dozens of songs that nobody but my close immediate friends and family heard. It wasn't until the year 2000, when my mom pestered me to make her a cassette tape of my music, that I finally released an album. I had a makeshift recording setup... a borrowed digital piano, a tape recorder, and a quiet room. I recorded 20 of my favorite pieces I'd composed over the years, mistakes and all, titled the album "Beginnings" and make a couple dozen copies to give to friends and family for Christmas that year. What I didn't expect was the overwhelming flow of positive feedback from everyone. Comments like "Wow, I didn't know you played so well!" or "You really should make more of these!", and "This is some of the most beautiful music I've ever heard!" left me feeling a whole new world of emotions about my music than I'd ever felt before.
It was then that I decided to step it up a notch and record a "real album". I purchased my own digital piano, a Yamaha Clavinova, and consulted my uncle who owns a recording studio on the in's and out's of recording at home. Feeling especially inspired and motivated by all the positive feedback I'd received, and by finally owning my first piano, I composed and recorded 16 songs over a four month period that I released as my second (but first official) album "Elysium". I gave this album to friends and family for Christmas and the response I received was even more overwhelming than it had been with "Beginnings". It was then, at that moment, that I decided to try and make a career out of being a musician, and it would be another six years before that dream would come true.
Once a year, during Christmastime, I would release a new album to give to friends and family as gifts. "The Journey" was released in 2002, followed by "A Change of Color" in 2003, "The Beginning of Forever" in 2004, and "After The Storm" in 2005. By this time, I was selling my music online, and promoting myself to radio stations. One particular online radio station I wanted to be a part of was Whisperings: Solo Piano Radio. I submitted a couple of my albums to David Nevue in hopes that he'd include my music on the Whisperings broadcast. He kindly replied that he enjoyed my music, however, the digital recording was not what Whisperings was looking for, and suggested that I record on an acoustic piano in the studio. Due to his encouragement, and my desire to be on the station, I compiled 20 of my favorite songs from my six released albums, and took them to the recording studio to record my next album "Reflections: The Best of Michele McLaughlin", released in 2006. Shortly after that, I was accepted not only onto Whisperings, but also onto MusicChoice Soundscapes (the digital music stations through local cable/satellite providers). I remember hearing my song "Night Sky" on TV and dancing around the room in utter excitement. Later that same year I purchased my first grand piano, something I had always dreamed of owning. I also recorded and released my first holiday album "Christmas - Plain & Simple".
The following year, in 2007, some very big changes happened in regards to my musical career. Through Whisperings, I had the opportunity to meet pianist/composer Gary Girouard, who was in Salt Lake City for a music teachers seminar, and he invited me to play a couple of songs as a special guest at his concert. I was terrified. I hadn't really performed before and I almost turned him down, but something inside of me urged me to accept, and I was so glad that I did. Performing was so exhilarating and exciting and it ignited a spark in me that pushed me to the next level of my music. It was a few months later when I decided to quit my "day job" and invest myself full time into my music, as a professional musician. Dream come true :)
Since becoming a full time musician, I've released five more albums; "Dedication" released in 2007, " A Celtic Dream" released in 2008, "Out of the Darkness" and "Christmas - Plain & Simple II" both released in 2010, and "Breathing In The Moment" released in 2012, many of which have received numerous nominations and awards. I have shared the stage with some incredible and talented pianist/composers: Gary Girouard, Jennifer Thomas, Joe Bongiorno, David Nevue, Kurt Bestor, Joe Yamada, Christine Brown, Joseph Akins, Philip Wesley, Louis Landon, Scott D. Davis, Amy Janelle, Lucas Kirby, Michael Hicks, Tim Neumark, John Albert Thomas, Chad Lawson, Mike Strickland, Rhonda Mackert, Brad Jacobsen, Roth Herrlinger, Neil Patton, Craig Burdette, and Greg Maroney. I absolutely adore sharing the stage with other musicians because I feel it brings such a colorful pallet of styles and technique to the audience experience, and it gives me an opportunity to meet amazing musicians, many of which have been great inspirations to me over the years.
I now own my own recording studio, do all of my recording in the comfort of my own home on my beautiful Yamaha C7 concert grand. I also run an in-home concert series, Cozy Corner Concerts, which showcases renowned pianists from all over. I perform regularly and am working on my fourteenth album which I plan to release in 2013, in addition to other musical projects which are also in the works.
Thanks for taking the time to read my story.