The Edmond Sun

Arts & Entertainment

November 23, 2012

Local artist shows bravado in his career evolution

EDMOND — Local jazz vocalist Michael Summers knows how to sing to the rhythm of changing times.

He is a monthly featured artist at the University of Central Oklahoma’s Jazz Lab and has a new CD titled, “More.” He has been performing at the Edmond social venue for about 10 years.

The Oklahoma City native, in his late 40s, was introduced to music through social reform at an early age. He was one of the young people affected by the Brown v. Brown of Education decision forcing the desegregation of whites and blacks in schools in the early 1950s to 1960s.

“Integration put people in different areas,” Summers said.

At the time of unification he was going to a predominately white school in Oklahoma City. Integration eventually gave him the opportunity to attend the predominately black Douglass High School in Northeast Oklahoma City.

He said the education he received there under the late Leroy Hicks, legendary former choir director, impacted his music aspirations and influenced him greatly.

“It had a lot to do with it,” Summers said of his eventual career choice.

His inspiration to start in music was also from his father and music fads of the 1950s through 1980s.

He said his late father sang a lot for religious purposes and also introduced his son to music genres and artists of the time.

“I grew up listening to Elvis and barbershop quartet music, not jazz, and then got a peek into jazz before long hair rock and roll,” he said.

He also was influenced a lot by the English rock band Led Zeppelin and began his music career in the early 1970s in garage bands. He was in a predominately black funk band in Dallas for two years during the 1980s. He then started a rock band called “Legacy.” He recorded an album with the band around 1990.

After that he “got finished with grudge rock,” he said.

Summers also was introduced to music genres including county and gospel while living in Nashville during the 1990s. He moved back to Oklahoma in 2000 and started writing his current album about four years ago.

“I had a friend who went abroad and took time while house sitting to write it in California,” he said. “I did that on purpose and I found the time.”

Summers said a lot of his music influences for songs on More like “Someone to Adore” came from his time in The Golden State.

“I have been singing jazz for 30 years,” he said. “Jazz band is what this jazz record, as a nearing 50 guy, is what I am looking for to promote.”

The key to his career’s evolution and success is that he learned to never quit, he said.

Summers will be performing next at the New Year’s Eve Opening Night Celebration starting at 7 p.m. Dec. 31 in downtown Oklahoma City.

FOR MORE information about Michael Summers, visit his website,

www.michealsummersjazz.net.

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