By the looks of Barry Michael, the down-home, Southern charmer with a signature deep, twangy-in-all-the right-spots voice, one might be tempted to think he’s a country boy through and through. The truth is, this Atlanta native is a born-again cowboy but as his latest single, Uncountrify Me, suggests, it’s just too late to ‘uncountrify’ him now!
Raised by his father, a Southern-Baptist preacher and his mother, Barry grew up in the suburbs of Atlanta where he joked that the creek in his backyard was about as ‘country’ as he ever got as a kid. It wasn’t until he was in high school that Barry got his first taste of the so-called country life. “There was just something about it- the simplicity of everything, the expanse of land, the frog-gigging, cow-tipping and four-wheeler riding,” he chuckled. “All of it just really struck a chord with me and I knew I was a city boy no more.” His journey toward becoming a singer; however, has taken a little longer to cultivate, but this urban cowboy knows that slow and steady wins the race. “I’ve always felt like I was headed in a certain direction in my life, where, I don’t know. But I do know everything I do is for a reason.”
That feeling first grew roots when it became clear that from a very young age, Barry had a natural ability to perform, whether it was while playing sports or entertaining people, namely through singing. “I come from a very musical family. Everyone sings like birds!” laughed the all-around talent. Barry’s first time on the radio was belting out Jesus Loves Me at just 4-years-old on his father’s Saturday morning radio show. He continued to sing informally but as Barry got older, his innate athleticism afforded him many promising involvements in high school sports, eventually leading to a tennis scholarship at Truett-McConnell College in Cleveland, GA. After just one year though, this head-strong, self-proclaimed “country-man” had all the schooling he needed, having taken the business basics, and got straight to work setting up a car lot with his buddy. An avid automobile enthusiast with an admitted ‘need for speed,’ Barry worked hard for four years then sold his share of the business. And so there he was, a 24-year-old retiree, when he decided to enroll in the Atlanta Broadcast Institute. After a 12-week intensive course, Barry graduated and immediately began brainstorming ideas for television shows. It wasn’t long before the natural showman was writing, producing, hosting and occasionally singing on his very own sports program on a local Atlanta station.
Around the same time, Barry began composing original songs for his men’s Bible study group, eventually leading to the formation of his first band, the Christian group, Altaration. Realizing he had a true knack for songwriting, Barry decided it was time to legitimately pursue a professional music career, leading him to sign with Stockbridge Records, who released his debut album, Ripped Blue Jeans and ATVs. Not long after, Barry was approached to write a song for a group of Houston-area WWII veterans in support of their honor flight fundraiser. The song, Heroes and Angels, gained national recognition and opened a lot of doors for the budding singer who then parlayed that success into a full-blown tour performing at national conventions, military bases, government ceremonies, private events and radio and television shows. “It’s been an honor to have the opportunity to work so closely with our nation’s military,” he said. “The fact that they like my music and support it is an even bigger honor!”
His music also led Barry to forge a partnership with Health Net, Inc. in August 2010 to honor and support service members, Veterans and their families. Their main focus has been to increase awareness and encourage the use of behavioral health services. “The message we’re sending is simple,” said Barry. “We want people to know they aren’t alone and if they need help, they should call us. We’ll be here.” A charitable man by nature, Barry also lends his time supporting local philanthropies including his church’s counseling center. “Helping other people is one of my greatest joys in life,” said the singer. Perhaps it’s his strong sense of self or the close relationship he has with his family, but whatever it is, Barry’s ability to connect with people and touch their lives, be it through music, prayer or just by listening, has provided him countless opportunities and the future of his music career looks brighter by the day.
But even this work-a-holic likes a break now and then. When he isn’t busy working himself to the bone, Barry likes to kick back his ol’ boots and relax with family and friends. “When I’m at home, I play constantly,” said the free spirit. “Hanging out with my loved ones is what makes this crazy dream of mine worth it!” And as crazy as his dream may be, Barry knows deep down that he is working toward something great. “I’ve done a lot to try to screw this up over the years but I’m still here, plugging away!” And plug away he will, right to the top!