Sarver was born in Sulphur, Louisiana, and graduated from Sulphur High School. He is married to Tiffany Sarver, and has two children, McKenna and Grayson. He has written over 890 songs for himself since the age of 14, and has also been singing since he was an adolescent. Prior to American Idol, Sarver worked as a roughneck on an oil rig.
Sarver auditioned for the eighth season of American Idol in Phoenix, Arizona. During the first semi-finals week, he was able to garner enough votes to allow him to continue, beating fellow contestant Anoop Desai for the third spot by just over 20,000 votes. He was eliminated on March 26, 2009, after the panel of judges were unable to unanimously agree to save him. As Sarver was in the top 10, he was able to perform on the American Idols LIVE! Tour 2009. Reflecting on his experience on Idol, Sarver said his family thought Cowell behaved "like a jerk" but was entitled to his own opinion.
On October 31 Sarver revealed he has been signed to Dream Records/Universal Music Group. Sarver said he will be releasing a country album in 2010. He will also be joining "Idol" alums Gina Glocksen, David Hernandez and Alexis Grace on the American Stars In Concert Tour this winter. Sarver also sung his first single "You Are" at the Dream Center. His Myspace page later revealed he signed to Dream Records/Fontana Distribution Michael has also become the official spokesperson for Credit Power Educational Foundation, Inc  Sarver has since released a new official single titled "Ferris Wheel" and shot a music video for it as well, and will be Sarver's first real single being pushed to country radio. In June 2010, Sarver launched his official web site MichaelSarverSite.com. In 2012, Sarver was dropped from Dream Records due to low album sales.