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Michael P. Smith

Chicago, IL   

Michael Smith is a master of the story song and the character
sketch, invoking a Carver-like economy at the one end and the subtlety of Proust at the other. Each song comes from a place so vividly evoked that it makes you want to go and live, not there, but rather more completely in your own life.


— Foley Schuler, WBLV Radio


Michael Smith has been singing, writing and touring in North America for over five decades. This self-taught musician is an award-winning composer and contributes original scores to the finest theaters in United States. He is a regular at music festivals from Kerrville, Texas to St. Augustine, Florida’s Gamble Rogers Music Festival, to Illinois’ own Fox Valley Folk Festival. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Woodstock Folk Festival in 2009. Recent appearances include the Old Town School of Folk Music, Irish American Heritage Center, Lake County Folk Club, Evanston First Night, and libraries throughout Illinois: Alton, Glenview, Lisle and Oak Park. His songs were featured in four Chicago Humanities Festivals at Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall, Chicago History Museum and Thorne Auditorium. 


Michael’s extensive catalog of compositions includes critically acclaimed theatrical scores, recordings, and award-winning productions. He wrote the music for the 1990 Tony Award–winning Steppenwolf production The Grapes of Wrath (1990). Michael Margaret Pat & Kate (1994) at Victory Gardens Theatre earned him four Joseph Jefferson Citations, including Best Original Music. Also for Victory Gardens, Michael composed the score for Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal (date) with Jamie O’Reilly, a production that received an After Dark Award for Best New Work. Other scores include The Gift of the Magi (2003) for Judith Svalander Dance Theatre at the Woodstock Opera House and the chamber opera Songs of the Kerry Madwoman (2006) for the DePaul Humanities Center. The Heart Songs of Opal Whiteley with collaborator Anne Hills, is now a touring production. Recently, he was a featured artist/songwriter for the Poetry Foundation in And the Poet Sang (with Jamie O’Reilly) and Brecht’s Love Poems (with Steppenwolf ensemble members Martha Lavey, Tim Hopper, and Jessica Anne Thebus).


Michael and puppeteer Blair Thomas collaborated on The Snow Queen for Victory Gardens, winner of Denmark’s prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award. Their other collaborations include Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant  for Chicago Children’s Theatre, Edward Gorey’s The Vinegar Works for Loyola University Museum of Art, and an upcoming adaptation of Moby-Dick.

Moby-Dick Songs

The sample includes three songs created and performed by Michael Smith for
Blair Thomas’s production of Moby-Dick between 2009 and 2011: Nail Fast to the Mast (2009), Bed (2011), and Gabriel (2011).

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Hey Kid

The video features a song written by Michael Smith about about Evanston, IL painter Leopold Segedin for the award-winning Victory Gardens production Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal.

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