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|Birth name||Michael Andrew Sembello|
|Born||April 17, 1954|
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Genres||Hi-NRG, new wave, synthpop, pop rock, R&B, soul, pop, funk|
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, keyboards|
|Labels||Warner Bros., EMI, A&M, Frontiers|
|Associated acts||Stevie Wonder|
Michael Andrew Sembello (born April 17, 1954) is an American singer, guitarist, keyboardist, songwriter, composer and producer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Sembello was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for his 1983 song "Maniac", which he sang and co-wrote. The song reached number one in the United States and featured in the Flashdance film soundtrack.
Sembello began his career in music as a session musician, working as a guitarist. By age 17, he was working professionally with Stevie Wonder on electric and acoustic guitar as a studio player on Wonder's Fulfillingness' First Finale. He continued the same year, chosen as one of the core artists who worked on Songs in the Key of Life, an ambitious double album that took two years to create. He was credited as lead and rhythm guitarist on most of the tracks—including the intricate jazz rock lead guitar part of the instrumental "Contusion"—and shares songwriting credit with Wonder on the song "Saturn", according to the album's liner notes.
The song was included as a bonus track on Thriller 25, the 25th-anniversary edition reissue of the album; the full version was released on iTunes in 2013 as part of The Ultimate Fan Extras Collection.
Sembello released his first solo album Bossa Nova Hotel in 1983. The song "Maniac" from that album, which he co-wrote with his keyboardist Dennis Matkosky, was selected for inclusion in the film Flashdance. "Maniac" was the second-best-charting song from the soundtrack (after the title track) and the ninth-biggest single of 1983. That soundtrack won a Grammy Award in 1984 for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special. Sembello and Matkosky have claimed that the song was supposed to be about a vicious pet murderer after having seen a slasher flick, possibly Maniac or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In 2020, Sembello, along with Matkosky, appeared in Maniac Men, an interview included on the 4K UHD Blu-ray reissue of Maniac.
Sembello produced guitarist Jennifer Batten's first solo album Above Below and Beyond in 1992. In 1994, he produced Argentine singer Valeria Lynch's album Caravana de Sueños (1994), and co-wrote the title song with lyricist César Isella and composer Armando Tejada Gómez.
Sembello's songs are featured in the films Cocoon, Independence Day, Gremlins, The Monster Squad and Summer Lovers. His song "Gravity" from Cocoon was accompanied by a music video directed by the film's director Ron Howard and included an appearance by Howard in a scripted fictional foreword to the video.
In 2008, Sembello worked with saxophonist Michael Lington on his album Heat, nominated as Jazztrax Album of the Year for 2008. Michael and his brother Danny Sembello penned three songs with Lington for the project.
May 2009, Sembello assembled Bruce Gaichi (bass, guitar) and Janie Kluwer (keyboards, vocals) to form the trio The Bossa Nova Hotel, named after his 1983 Warner Bros. Records debut. They recorded the album Moon Island, released on EMI Japan. The album consists of American pop songs given arrangements with a strong Brazilian influence.
Shortly after The Bossa Nova Hotel's rendition of the jazz standard Manhã de Carnaval enjoyed success as the theme to the Japanese television series, LIFE!, the trio regrouped in 2016 to record a cover of Sting's Fragile.
Sembello has recorded his vocals in six languages.
- Bossa Nova Hotel (1983) – US #80
- Without Walls (1986)
- Caravan of Dreams (1992)
- Backwards in Time (1997)
- Ancient Future (2002)
- The Lost Years (2003)
with The Bossa Nova Hotel
- Moon Island (2009)
|Title||Release||Peak chart positions||Album|
|"Summer Lovers"||1982||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Summer Lovers|
|"Maniac" (also from Flashdance)||1983||1||34||—||2||11||6||28||10||7||2||43||Bossa Nova Hotel|
|"Gravity" (also from Cocoon)||1985||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Without Walls|
|"Tear Down the Walls"||1986||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Wonder Where You Are"||—||—||79||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|"Heavy Weather"||1992||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||Caravan of Dreams|
|"Reach for the Dream"||1995||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||non-album single|
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
- "Billboard > Michael Sembello Chart History > Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- "Europeans Crazy About Main Line's 'Maniac'". Ardmore-Merion-Wynnewood, PA Patch. November 27, 2012.
- Steve Millward (April 9, 2018). Fast Forward: Music And Politics In 1974. Troubador Publishing Ltd. pp. 58–. ISBN 978-1-78589-540-1.
- Pat Martino Documentary Michael Sembello Interview, retrieved November 30, 2019
- Pirnia, Garin (May 7, 2012). "Human Nature". Rolling Stone.
- Wheeler, Brad (May 20, 2014). "The maestro Quincy Jones and his singing Montreal protégé". The Globe and Mail. Archived from the original on October 12, 2018. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
- Recordings, Legacy (July 2, 2013). "Carousel". PR NewsWire.. Retrieved October 24, 2018.
- "Jackson Claims 8 Grammys". Times-News. February 29, 1984. Retrieved December 21, 2010.
- Tom Breihan (July 22, 2020), "The Number Ones: Michael Sembello's "Maniac"", Stereogum
- Stephanie Prange (March 19, 2020), 'Zombie' and 'Maniac' Coming to 4K UHD Blu-ray May 26 From MVD and Blue Underground
- Prato, Greg (December 30, 2003), "Jennifer Batten Biography", Allmusic.com, Rovi Corp, retrieved July 26, 2011
- "Song Credits: Canción Con Todos-Valeria Lynch-From the album Caravana De Sueños", Pandora
- Jason Gross (June 17, 2015), "Bodacious Breakdown: 'Gravity' by Michael Sembello", Rediscover the 80s
- "Michael Sembello - Gravity (Music Video)", YouTube
- THE JAZZTRAX BEST OF 2008
- "マイケル・センベロが放つ、極上ブラジリアンAORの世界 (The World of the Finest Brazilian AOR Released by Michael Sembello)", Barks Japanese Music Network, June 1, 2009
- "Janey Clewer Music - The Bossa Nova Hotel".
- The Bossa Nova Hotel (2016). "Fragile-Single". Apple Music.
- Randolph Michaels (September 2005). Flashbacks to Happiness: Eighties Music Revisited. iUniverse. pp. 160–. ISBN 978-0-595-37007-8.
- "Billboard > Michael Sembello Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Joel Whitburn (2007). Joel Whitburn Presents Billboard Top Adult Songs, 1961-2006. Record Research Inc. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-89820-169-7.
- "Billboard > Michael Sembello Chart History > Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
- Australian chart peaks:
- Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 268. ISBN 0-646-11917-6. N.B. The Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid-1983 and June 12, 1988.
- "Maniac": "The Countdown (ARIA) Chart – Week Ending 4th September, 1983". ARIA. Retrieved April 1, 2017 – via Imgur.com.
- "Automatic Man": "Countdown (ARIA) Chart – Week Ending 4th December, 1983". ARIA. Retrieved April 1, 2017 – via Imgur.com.
- "Ultratop > Michael Sembello in Ultratop Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- German singles chart peaks:
- "Maniac": "Offizielle Deutsche Charts > Michael Sembello – Maniac (single)" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
- "Automatic Man": "Offizielle Deutsche Charts > Michael Sembello – Automatic Man (single)" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
- "The Irish Charts – All there is to know > Search results for 'Michael Sembello' (from irishcharts.ie)". Fireball Media. Retrieved October 1, 2016 – via Imgur.com.
- "dutchcharts.nl > Michael Sembello in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- "charts.nz > Michael Sembello in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
- "hitparade.ch > Michael Sembello in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
- "Official Charts > Michael Sembello". Official Charts Company. Retrieved October 1, 2016.