Michael Sembello

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Michael Sembello
Birth name Michael Andrew Sembello
Born (1954-04-17) April 17, 1954 (age 63)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania United States
Genres Hi-NRG, new wave, synthpop, pop rock, rhythm and blues, world music, jazz
Occupation(s) singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, composer, producer, engineer.
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards
Years active 1975–present
Labels Warner Bros., EMI, A&M
Associated acts Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, The Temptations, George Duke, Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn.

Michael Andrew Sembello[1] (born April 17, 1954) is an American singer, musician, songwriter and producer from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

His 1983 song "Maniac", which he sang and co-wrote, was nominated for an "Academy Award"[2] and "Golden Globe"[3] in 1984.

The song reached #1 in the US and notably featured on the 1984 Grammy Award winning[4] Motion Picture soundtrack for "Flashdance".

Michael began his career as a session Guitarist, then became a solo-artist, songwriter, composer and producer.[5]

Early life[edit]

Sembello was born and raised in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, a western suburb of Philadelphia. He studied guitar with jazz great Pat Martino.


Sembello began his career in music as a session musician, working with increasingly high-profile artists 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, and shares songwriting credit with Wonder on the song "Saturn". The list of pop music personalities he worked with, or wrote for, includes Stevie Wonder (from 1974 to 1979), George Benson, Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Barbara Streisand, Diana Ross, Sérgio Mendes, The Temptations, Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn, Miguel Mateos and New Edition among many others.[citation needed]

Sembello wrote a song, "Carousel", which Michael Jackson recorded for his 1982 album Thriller, but it was replaced on the track list by "Human Nature".[6]

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 blockbuster film Flashdance. "Maniac" went on to become the second best charting song from the soundtrack (after the title track) and the ninth biggest single of 1983. That soundtrack was rewarded with a Grammy Award in 1983 for Best Album of Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special.[7]

Sembello produced guitarist Jennifer Batten's first solo album, Above Below and Beyond in 1992.[8] In 1994, he produced Argentine singer Valeria Lynch's album Caravana de Sueños (1994), and co-wrote the title song with Puerto Rican Wilkins Vélez.

Sembello has spent much of his career writing songs for movies and film, some of which have achieved blockbuster commercial success. His songs are featured in the films Cocoon, Independence Day, Gremlins, The Monster Squad and Summer Lovers, among many others. His song "Gravity" from the film Cocoon was accompanied by a music video directed by Cocoon director Ron Howard and included an appearance by Howard in a scripted fictional foreword to the video.

In 2008, Michael Sembello worked with saxophonist Michael Lington on his album Heat, which was nominated as Jazztrax Album of the Year for 2008. Michael and his brother Danny Sembello penned three songs with Lington for the project. Sembello travels to Brazil frequently and is good friends with Daniel Jobim, the grandson of legendary composer Antonio Carlos Jobim.

Sembello has recorded his vocals in six languages and is continually writing, producing and releasing albums.[citation needed] In May 2009, the album Moon Island was released on EMI Japan. The album consists of American pop songs given new arrangements with a strong Brazilian influence.



Year Album US
1983 Bossa Nova Hotel 80
1986 Without Walls
1992 Caravan of Dreams
1997 Backwards in Time
2002 Ancient Future
2003 The Lost Years


Year Song US




1982 "Summer Lovers" Summer Lovers
1983 "Maniac" 1 2 11 6 28 10 7 2 43 Bossa Nova Hotel
"Automatic Man" 34 49 66
1984 "Talk" 37
"Gremlins...Mega Madness" (from Gremlins) Gremlins
1985 "Gravity" (from Cocoon) Without Walls
1986 "Tear Down the Walls"
"Wonder Where You Are" 79
1992 "Heavy Weather" Caravan of Dreams
1995 "Reach for the Dream" non-album single
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Michael Sembello @Discogs.com Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  2. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0783732/awards
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0783732/awards
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0085549/awards
  5. ^ https://www.allmusic.com/artist/michael-sembello-mn0000458423/credits
  6. ^ Pirnia, Garin (May 7, 2012). "Human Nature". Rolling Stone. 
  7. ^ "Jackson Claims 8 Grammys". Times-News. February 29, 1984. Retrieved December 21, 2010. 
  8. ^ Prato, Greg (December 30, 2003), "Jennifer Batten Biography", Allmusic.com, Rovi Corp, retrieved July 26, 2011 
  9. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Michael Sembello > Chart History > Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  10. ^ US Billboard Hot 100 peaks:
  11. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Michael Sembello > Chart History > Adult Contemporary". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  12. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Michael Sembello > Chart History > Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  13. ^ Australian chart peaks:
  14. ^ "Ultratop > Michael Sembello in Ultratop Vlaanderen" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  15. ^ German singles chart peaks:
  16. ^ "The Irish Charts – All there is to know > Search results for 'Michael Sembello' (from irishcharts.ie)". Imgur.com (original source published by Fireball Media). Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  17. ^ "dutchcharts.nl > Michael Sembello in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  18. ^ "charts.org.nz > Michael Sembello in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  19. ^ "hitparade.ch > Michael Sembello in der Schweizer Hitparade" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved October 1, 2016. 
  20. ^ "Official Charts > Michael Sembello". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved October 1, 2016.