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Michael Brant DeMaria

Musical careers have as many different beginnings as there are musical instruments, and probably a lot more. Some folks fall into it organically; some have an epiphany, perhaps while listening to an iconic recording; some are set on the path by a chance encounter; and for others, it’s as if pieces of a puzzle fall gradually into place, guiding them inexorably to their life’s purpose. Michael Brant DeMaria is one such person.

Growing up in Wilton, Connecticut in the 1960s, Michael was the middle of three boys born to an Italian immigrant father and a mother who grew up in foster homes. At the age of 7, Michael (who didn’t talk until age 3 and was quiet and quite shy) had traumatic abdominal surgery. He found comfort, both physical and emotional, in playing the piano. "I would play one note at a time and close my eyes to heal from the trauma, and let that one note dissipate off into silence, then hit another one. It was like 'Zen piano.' I realize now I was self-soothing or doing sound based meditation." This was Michael's first foray into the field of music therapy—the baby steps on his pathway to where he is now. However, as a child, he didn’t entertain notions of being a professional musician, preferring to dream of careers as a back country ranger, ski patrol, doctor or actor/filmmaker. However, he also dreamt of becoming a drummer. This evolved when he first experienced jazz at 8 years old and he became enthralled by the band’s drummer. He eventually took lessons which elicited praise from his teachers, one of whom proclaimed that he would "…one day be a famous drummer." Later, Michael would grow his musical repertoire to include assorted flutes, ethnic percussion, piano and an array of keyboards and synthesizers. His earliest recordings were made on cassettes which he gave to friends. The final “piece” of his puzzle (the first two being using piano to self-heal and his introduction to drumming) fell into place in 1993 when he was introduced to the Native American flute during a wilderness vision quest fast in Alberta, Canada. The experience transformed him over the next decade. The puzzle was complete and Michael resonated with the “picture” it portrayed.

His recording career began in earnest in 2003 with the release of The River, the first album released on his own label, Ontos Music. Success came almost immediately as a string of recordings garnered gushing reviews and award nominations (Grammy® and Zone Music Reporter) as well as shooting to number one on playlists and getting copious airplay on FM, Internet, satellite and cable radio. Besides releasing albums on Ontos Music, he is also a Sounds True ™ recording artist and his albums on their label have also achieved critical and commercial success.

You would think all this would be enough, but besides his music career, Michael is also an integrative psychologist, author and playwright, sought after speaker, yoga and music instructor—and if you hadn't spotted the thread running through all this, all these fields are connected by his fierce desire to help people achieve serenity and a state of health and wellness, which he believes we all deserve. Even with all that going on, Michael found time to marry his high school sweetheart (they recently celebrated 40 years together) and raise a daughter (who also is a musician). Michael and his wife, Kathy, live in the picturesque Florida city of Gulf Breeze, surrounded by national forest and seashore, which no doubt helps to inspire him many times over.

Musing over his musical career, Michael is clear about its purpose. “I…feel my music is inside of me and it has to get out and I don’t want to die with this music in me, it comes from this deep place that to me is a gift… I am interested in this musical/creative conversation with the world, or what I call a soulversation – so when I have success it’s because my greatest joy is touching the worlds’ greatest need – and when that connects – I know I’m doing the work I came here to do on the planet, and it’s an ongoing ever shifting conversation/ soulversation.”

Multiple Grammy® nominee, multiple Zone Music Reporter nominee and winner, renowned integrative psychologist, oft-requested guest speaker, author, playwright, yoga instructor—all of these elements coalesce in the person who is Michael Brant DeMaria. However, as with many things in this world, the whole is so much greater than the sum of its parts. More than anything else, Michael is a force for healing and positive change in this world, and goodness knows we are all better off for his being here.