Multi-lingual singer-songwriter and musician who is
best known for his 1983 mega-smash "Maniac" which went to #1 on
the Billboard pop chart and is purportedly the third biggest-selling record
to be used in a movie soundtrack.
Sembello's roots are in Philly where
he improbably found himself playing guitar for Stevie
Wonder in the early '70s.
Session work followed with an eclectic mix of artists including
Stephen Bishop, The Jackson 5, Sergio Mendes, and David Sanborn. His first solo album was released in
1983 and Phil Ramone was so taken with "Maniac"
that he asked if it could be included in the movie Flashdance. Although it was a critical flop, it
was nevertheless a commercial success.
The soundtrack has sold upwards of twenty million copies and won a
Grammy award for Best Album of Original Score Written for A Motion Picture
or a Television Special. " Maniac"
was nominated for an Oscar and then disqualified because it had not been
specifically written for the film, having previously appeared on Michael Sembello's album Bossa Nova Hotel. In
spite of its popularity and record sales, commercial success was not really
what Sembello was after. He wanted to unite the world through
music. In 1992, he recorded an
album called Caravan of Dreams
which included several Indonesian and Malaysian numbers. Later that same decade, he embarked
on an even more ambitious project. Joining the diversified forces of Vinnie Colaiuta, Lionel Cole,
Paulinho de Costa, Edu Falcao, Daniel Jobim, and
Nathan Watts, Sembello assembled a worldbeat group called The Bridge. He then proceeded to launch a world
tour called Singing Around the World in 80 Languages, an unprecedented accomplishment. By the end of the 1990s, Michael Sembello had sung in more languages than any other
recording artist in history.
(Dennis Matkosky/Michael Sembello)