Olympic hopeful turned Olympic performer

Carissa Bowlin

Singer and songwriter Michael Tolcher might be growing an audience worldwide, but his stops in Cleveland have a soft spot.

“My grandfather moved from the English Channel straight to Cleveland 60, 70 years ago,” said Tolcher.

With just a van and guitar, Tolcher began his self-contained touring. He even had some self-produced recording.

“All you really need is a simple recording machine and some tape,” said Tolcher, describing his first recording studio.

In fall 2003, Tolcher produced his debut album “I Am” on Octone Records with Pop Rox, pop crossover producers. Signed for his aim to uplift and thoughtful material, Tolcher has not been a disappointment.

Now Tolcher has been touring with his current band for about 20 months with bands like Sister Hazel, Collective Soul and Gavin Degraw.

He has been able take his laid-back, rhythmic twist to melodic-based pop and perform for audiences of thousands, and sometimes millions. Right now these tours are his main focus.

“I’m not green to performing,” said Tolcher. “I’ve been performing for 12 years. Right now I’m really trying to focus on growing an audience.”

These big-name performers influence each other and find many similarities as they tour together, but some, such as Tolcher, didn’t find their passion for music until other aspirations were put to a halt.

“I wanted to be an Olympic runner,” said Tolcher. “I ran every morning and every night all the way through high school and into college. A series of injuries slowed me down.”

The injuries might of slowed down Tolcher’s mile run, but they set his musical career into a full sprint. It didn’t even keep him out of the Olympics.

“Music is much more fulfilling,” said Tolcher. “I really had my first experience with the effect of music in my performance at the Atlanta Summer Olympics.”

Music is the way Tolcher expresses himself – and even communicates.

“I can’t put into a sentence what I put into a song,” said Tolcher. “Music is a more in-depth expression. I wouldn’t be a musician if I could just say it.”

Tolcher said he was influenced by the radio. His southern upbringing is evident when he presents soul and urban grooves compared to a more artsy, jazzy John Mayer or Dave Matthews.

The expression of the emotions surrounding sickness can be dealt with through song. Tolcher has donated the use of his songs to the American Lung Association’s public service announcements. Tolcher wants to be a part of something that improves the lives of millions and feels the American Lung Association does just that.

“Songs like ‘Mission Responsible’ reflect what the American Lung Association is trying to communicate,” said Tolcher.

Tolcher wants to keep traveling the country and even the world to share his art. Success to Tolcher is to continue creating and keep building a network of people to share the art with for the next several years.

“Music is what I live by,” said Tolcher, “Maybe if I wasn’t doing this I’d dabble in some musical theater, try to be the Phantom of the Opera. Maybe I still will in another few years.”

And perform he does. Tolcher’s shows are always a kicked back, feel-good kind of time.

“Kent students who come out to the show should be prepared for some moving of the body, tweaking of the mind and an overall good time,” he said.

Contact ALL reporter Carissa Bowlin at [email protected].