Sarver was born in Sulphur, Louisiana, and graduated from Sulphur High School. He has two children, McKenna and Grayson. He has written over 1100 songs for himself and others 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.
Sarver signed with Dream Records/Universal Music Group in December 2009. That same month, he joined "Idol" alums Gina Glocksen, David Hernandez and Alexis Grace on the American Stars In Concert Tour. He released a self-titled debut album in July 2010, and three songs - "You Are", "Cinderella Girl", and "Ferris Wheel" - were released as singles. His Myspace page later revealed he signed to Dream Records/Fontana Distribution. He has also become the official spokesperson for Credit Power Educational Foundation, Inc. In June 2010, Sarver launched a web site http://michaelsarver.com. In 2012, Sarver left Dream Records due the inability of the label to fulfill their contractual obligations.