Lots of children enjoy singing for their families when they’re young, but few go on to receive training in Italian opera singing, and even fewer turn that into a career. Hewlett resident Josh Michaels is one of the few.
Michaels, 27, released his latest single, “Break Around You” in July, and it has received some attention online, in part because of its inclusion on some popular Spotify playlists. He is also donating a portion of the proceeds from the single’s sales and streams to the American Cancer Society, in honor of his grandfather, Barney Rabin, who loved to listen to him sing opera. Rabin died of lung cancer in April of 2009.
A portion of the money Michaels earned from his 2016 EP, “Out of the Deep Blue” was also donated to the same charity. He said he choose the American Cancer Society because he felt connected to the organization following his grandfather’s death, and that so far he’s raised “thousands of dollars” though his EP, but doesn’t have any numbers on the single yet.
“I’m always writing for the people, I want to connect with everyone,” Michaels said. “The new song is about letting fear go, when your whole world feels like a mess it’s okay to let it all break around you.”
His opera training is immediately recognizable when he sings. “He’s a fantastic vocalist,” said James Mellor, an English producer who’s worked with Michaels on several songs. “I’ve never met someone with the same level of power and control that Josh has in his voice. It makes for an extremely emotive and captivating performance.”
Queens-based saxophonist and songwriter Premik Russell Tubbs has known Michaels for years, and said he knew there was something special there from the first time he heard him sing. He also couldn’t stop praising Michael’s songwriting, “He’s so gifted,” Tubbs said, “he maintains a positive message and makes a point to be uplifting.”
Friends are thrilled to see how his talent has blossomed. Kristen Hoffmann, an independent singer and songwriter, who’s known him since 2009 has served as a mentor to Michaels, and believes he’s come a very long way since they met. “I always do my best to help steer him in a positive direction,” she said. “I’ve loved seeing Josh’s music, voice and songwriting grow exponentially in the years I’ve known him.”
Tubbs notes that despite the music industry being quite cutthroat Michaels is able to keep his ego out of it. “He’s a really sweet, very humble guy with a real gift,” Tubbs said.
Michaels is currently working on his first full-length record, having about four of 10 songs completed. He hopes to release it this winter. His music can be streamed on Spotify and Apple Music, or purchased on iTunes.
Go to www.joshmichaelsmusic.com for more on Michaels.