Belfast musician & songwriter Michael Cunningham released his debut album Hidden Treasure, in early 2018
Already, several of the songs have been highlighted by ReverbNation, one of the world’s leading online music platforms, which provides tools and opportunities for musicians. Their user base has about 4 million musicians, fans, and labels in more than 250 countries.
But if the early reaction from Reverbnation has been positive, the story behind Michael’s album music reads a little like an adventure movie…with the songs lying unsung for almost 20 years in a dusty box in a garage in Northern Ireland.
Michael commented: “Growing up in Belfast, music was at the heart of our home. I got my first basic guitar at 9 years of age and it was about this time that the Beatles Blue & Red album came into our house. Those songs lit a musical fire in my heart which won’t expire until I do..!!”
“My passion for entertaining meant that my earliest performances were as a busker in Belfast city centre, during the IRA bombing campaign. Busking was tremendous fun, but (as my worried mother insisted!) it was also quite risky, often involving very rapid changes of pitch….both musically & physically! And what a way to build confidence & to develop your first play-list…!
“Like many other hopefuls, in my teens and as a young man, I was a member of various rock bands and groups, with ambitions for that magical hit to stardom!”
I worked with Jim Anderson, a shy and very talented guitar player & songwriter. Singing & writing with Jim as a duo called “Thelma & Louise” was a high point of my early musical career.”
“For over three years we wrote our own material & played in Singer/ Songwriter nights in popular Belfast bars. Media appearances beckoned, with lots of press, radio sessions and even a slot on TV, which was a bid deal then. We also managed to fund a number of recordings in local studios.”
“But despite huge investment of talent, time and money, instead of breakthrough to stardom, it was the break-up that happened. We couldn't even get arrested, and that's something for 2 boys from Belfast in those days!!! The harsh realities of life… job, mortgage & marriage… followed by the arrival of a young family, meant that Jim & I inevitably drifted apart.
Inevitably, music moved from centre-stage in my life to an enjoyable hobby.”
“I can remember sadly tossing a pile of cassette tapes & recordings into that cardboard box in my garage…and, literally, pulling the shutters down on my youthful dreams and ambitions of fame as a rock star…”
The next 20 years saw Tracy and me build a loving, happy home with our two boys Ben & Joshua. Music was still important, of course… but only in the background
In the foreground of my life was a frustrating career of well-paid but high-pressure advertising jobs…which left me unfulfilled
Until 2016 …my breakthrough year…
Thanks to Tracy’s fantastic support, I gave up my job…! And made a new beginning…
Working for myself in music and digital consultancy….Free at Last..!!
And, 20 years on, I could once again actually afford serious time for my own MUSIC…!!
My Life-changing Experience…!!
On 26th November 1922, and explorer called Howard Carter knocked down a wall in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and discovered amazing treasures in the 3,000-year-old tomb of a young Pharaoh.
On 26th November 2016, I had my own (much smaller!!) “Tutenkamun Experience” when I blew the cobwebs off that dusty old cardboard box in my garage, & discovered the magic of those lost tapes of 20 years ago…
Playing back those cassettes & recordings was a lightbulb moment for me. The sound quality and recording factors were dire, but I was blown away by their compelling power. Their themes of love, loss and loneliness were timeless, underpinned by haunting melodies and heart-tugging lyrics. I felt immediately they had real potential.
Since then, it’s a been life-changing experience. I’ve dedicated myself to producing and recording the best of those great songs.
That’s included an emotional re-connection after two decades with my former singing partner Jim Anderson. Sadly, Jim’s was no longer writing or singing, but he was very happy for me to rerecord and release the material.
The cassette tapes and recordings were impossible to re-master. However, it’s been a wonderful experience to sing and produce the first album, using top local musicians and state-of-the-art recording facilities…I’ve been thrilled with the quality factors.
Appropriately the album’s was entitled ”Hidden Treasure…”