Michael Peter Smith, Songwriter

“I did care and I still DO care about messing around with songwriting. I’ll do this all my life and see what turns out. I’m writing for myself…I’ll choose to be happy…I’m not ready to shut this factory down.”

Michael’s New Year’s greeting on blog.
The Moby Dick CD is coming in 2019

Now available Michael’s CD SONGWRITING.
Read more here: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/smith-songwriting-cd-mail/

Michael talks…
Part Master class. Part musical memoir.
All Michael!  The long awaited recording!
Singer/songwriter Michael P. Smith reveals the inner workings of his songwriting process, tells stories: from first song and first guitar, to the inspiration for (and secret source) of his best known song The Dutchman, and performs this, and other songs, with distinctive Smithesque style. This winning recording offers a glimpse of this singular artist’s musical landscape, confirming why he remains a master in the American folk lexicon, revered the world over.

You WANT to hear this. Listen to a sample.
Making Up Songs

Michael in Rockport, MassMichael Smith’s website has his touring dates at michaelpetersmith.com
You can also get his current schedule and updates on this site on the BLOG.
Michael’s Songwriting Workshops: read more

Booking Policy.  Jamie O’Reilly requires a deposit, as well as a guarantee, to secure a date for Michael Smith to perform. Deposit can be made by credit card via PayPal, check or cash.  The amount is based on the lead time and % to the artist. Read about Jamie’s services here on the artist services page.

“Michael Smith stands out as one of the few undisputed geniuses among singer-songwriters.” (Sing Out! Magazine)

“Michael Smith, a truly remarkable songwriter, teaches his craft to a roomful of students at a
songwriting works
hop in The Studios at SPACE. After the class, he performed his gorgeous, intricate, and often hilarious songs to a sold out crowd. An incredible night with this gifted musician!”  (-Evanston S.P.A.C.E.)

Performances & touring schedule
Bio pdf SMITH current (and scroll down)
Michael’s Michael_Workshop_Flyer_(Edited)
Promo flyer:  MichaelPeterSmith-flyer-7
Library recommendation letter: Michael Smith Recommendation
Website: michaelpetersmith.com.
Jamie O’Reilly, booking & promo consultant
jamie@jamieoreilly.com; 773-203-7661
Contact us for bookings: mps_bookings@jamieoreilly.com


Here’s what Mr. Chuang-Tzu has to say about home towns
If your life is true you don’t have to go far

To find heaven and earth on the rim of your doorway

To have ocean and sky everywhere that you are


Wherever you go
Whatever you do
He stays in your head…



Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee
Long ago I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me

Wherever he is touring concert venues, clubs, theaters, folk festivals,
at house concerts, and teaching writing workshops. In powerful songs, award-winning musical scores, and unforgettable recordings – musical mastery is in whatever he does.

Sister Clarissa could have been on the stage
But Jesus came over and told her
He’d rather she taught the fifth grade

You’ve seen Michael perform, or heard him speak, you know what stands out about him. If you haven’t – book him now.

There are some ways I’m just like him
Some ways he was just like me
And sometimes when the mirror’s dim
His face is clear to see

Master of the Story Song

Michael Smith is a master of the story song and the character sketch, invoking a Carver-like economy at the one end and the subtlety of Proust at the other…In his characters, whimsy and humor mingle with much darker intimations. Each song comes from a place so vividly evoked that it makes you want to go and live, not there, but rather more completely in your own life. “ (Foley Schuler)

“Hearing the songs of Michael Smith in this day and age is like reading an anthology of Hemingway’s short stories after decades of only comic books. It’s a realization that songs can hold a whole lot more than they’re usually expected to hold, they can possess a genuine sense of place and time as evocative and magical as the finest literature.” (Paul Zollo)

Michael Smith, the lyricist, composer and performer of renown, is a voracious reader and never at a loss for material. As early as age 16, when he set the words that appeared on the grave of Robert Louis Stevenson, Michael was adapting and setting literature, children’s stories, and poetry to music.

Michael’s songs set poems by F. Garcia Lorca (Five in the Afternoon), Wallace Stevens (Blue Guitar), Chilean poets Gabriela Mistral (Swallow) and Pablo Neruda, as well as Irish poetry (Songs of the Kerry Madwoman), set in a chamber opera, with poems by Patricia Monaghan, and Chinese Tang Dynasty poets (Painted Horse). Passages from Robert Cole’s “The Spiritual Lives of Children” were transformed in We Become Birds. The words of essayist Ann Carson appear in a surprising way in Michael’s song Seurat.  Michael’s original work was featured at the Poetry Foundation: And the Poet Sang”, (2013) with Jamie O’Reilly and Peter Swenson, and in Brecht’s Letters with Steppenwolf’s Martha Lavey (2014).  He is currently recording songs inspired by Melville’s Moby Dick.

Everyone’s a giant when you’re a little kid
Everyone’s a giant but you
(Selfish Giant, now at CDBaby.com)

Composer – Michael in the theater and on the road

Michael is the 2010 recipient of the prestigious
Hans Christian Andersen Award for his adaption of
The Snow Queen, for which he also wrote the musical score.


“His songs are so resonant with layers of myth and magic and so perfectly enhanced by the genuine beauty of his melodies and instrumental arrangements that you can listen to a single one over and over for a whole day and feel happy.”

Read a background bio for Michael here.  http://michaelpetersmith.com/msbio.shtml


Featured among a list of luminaries in Paul Zollo’s 2016 book: More Songwriters on Songwriting (Da Capo Press), Michael Peter Smith is as productive as ever!  He recently released Songwriting, a CD recording that is part master class, part memoir.  Recorded at WFMT Studio in Chicago. Songwriting, and was featured on the music program Sweet Folk Chicago, and is available at CD Baby.
Link: https://www.jamieoreilly.com/smith-songwriting-cd-mail/

Michael has been singing, writing and touring in North America for over five decades.  His songs of been recorded by artists the world over. His song The Dutchman is considered a classic in the folk lexicon.
This self-taught musician is also an award-winning composer.  As a now beloved master in the folk music scene, Michael continues to deliver the goods.  Time and again, audience report an evening with him is an unforgettable appearance.  As a soloist, Michael has been a program highlight at musical venues and and at folk festivals from Kerrville, Texas to Shawano, WI and Toronto, CA.  Michael’s East Coast tours, as both a solo artist, and in performance with Anne Hills, have brought him to folk venues and concerts halls from Princeton, NJ to Cambridge, Mass.  

Michael Smith’s Moby Dick
Michael regularly contributes songs and original scores to the finest theaters in United States and internationally.  An avid reader, Smith’s work often the finest poets and authors: Lorca, Steinbeck, Wilde, Mistral, Brecht, Jackson, Stevenson, among the many.  His most recent project Michael P. Smith’s Moby Dick features original songs inspired by the seminal American classic, setting the texts from Herman Melville’s novel as sea shanties, story-songs, ballads and anthems.  Strong, swarthy, infectious, and infused with Smith’s signature poignant melodies, the songs of Moby Dick are reminiscent of 19th century balladry, and capture the tantalizing power of seafaring life.  The 20 original compositions are performed with stirring vocals and Michael’s fine guitar playing.  As strong a collection as any in the 21st century Americana folk music lexicon, Moby Dick may be some of Michael’s best work!

Michael is engaged by, and for estimable cultural institutions.  In the past few years, he was a featured artist/songwriter for the Poetry Foundation in the programs  And the Poet Sang, and in Brecht’s Love Poems (with Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble members).  A sampling of Illinois host-venues alone includes The Museum of Contemporary Art, DePaul Humanities Center, Logan Center for the Arts, Lookingglass Theater at Waterworks, Old Town School of Folk Music, The Woodstock Opera House, Irish American Heritage Center, Roosevelt University’s Ganz Hall, the Chicago History Museum, and Northwestern University Thorne Auditorium.

Michael’s extensive catalog of original compositions
includes critically acclaimed
theatrical scores, recordings, and songs for  award-winning theatrical productions. He wrote the
music for the 1990 Tony Award-winning Steppenwolf production The Grapes of Wrath (1990).
Michael Margaret Pat & Kate (1994) at Victory Gardens Theatre
earned him four Joseph Jefferson Citations, including Best Original Music.
In 2009, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Woodstock Folk Festival.
The Snow Queen was a winner of Denmark’s prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.
Michael’s songs for Hello Dali From the Sublime to the Surreal (2000), received an After Dark Award for Best New Work for Victory Gardens Theater.  His songs have been featured in four Chicago Humanities Festivals.

In recent years, Michael worked extensively with celebrated puppeteer/producer Blair Thomas, including in a touring production of The Brotherhood of the Monastic Order of Ancient Mariners Purges the Ills of Society Through a Reading of the Tales of Moby-Dick, performed at the The Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes in Charleville, France.  A workshop production was also mounted at Virginia Tech University, and had a limited run at the prestigious Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.  

Another Thomas collaboration is their piece based on Oscar Wilde’s The Selfish Giant, a highlight in the Chicago International Puppet Festival, and touring for the Children’s Theatre Production.  Michael contributed music to Edward Gorey’s The Vinegar Works for Loyola University Museum of Art. Blair and Michael collaborated on The Snow Queen for Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, with Tony/Academy Award-winning director Frank Galati.  

The Heart Songs of Opal Whiteley was written with longtime collaborator Anne Hills.
Anne has performed the music as a multimedia theater piece, and solo concert.
These lifelong friends continue to tour together and collaborate on songwriting.

Michael’s 20 year collaboration with Chicago vocalist, producer Jamie O’Reilly resulted in a formidable series of folk-cabarets: Pasiones: Songs Of The Spanish Civil War (1997), directed by Peter Glazer, was written in collaboration with veterans of the legendary Abraham Lincoln Brigade.  The stirring cabaret was seen at Chicago’s Theater on the Lake, and toured to New York City, San Francisco, Oakland, Allentown, PA and more.  The recording in 6 languages is sold around the world. Michael composed music for the box office hit Hello Dali: From the Sublime to the Surreal (2000).  Their production received two After Dark Awards for Best New Work and Best Ensemble for Victory Gardens Theater. Other original productions and recordings with Jamie O’Reilly include The Gift of the Magi (2003) for Judith Svalander Dance Theatre at the Woodstock Opera House, the chamber opera Songs of the Kerry Madwoman (2006) for the DePaul Humanities Center, and the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Their most recent program and recording Songs of a Catholic Childhood (2011), is performed as “pub-dinner theater” and is beloved by both practicing and latent catholic Baby boomer audiences.

For booking information please contact Jamie O’Reilly, mps_booking@jamieoreilly.com,

Or call 773.203.7661

MORE on Songwriting

“He’s our Picasso.” (Kathy Kelly, WNUR Folk Show)

“Amazing keynote address, songwriting talk and performances at FARM last weekend. I was moved to tears, enlightened and reinvigorated. Thank you.”  (Scott, fall 2011)

The songs of Michael Smith are published by Bird Avenue Publishing,
learn more here
. Contact Dolly Z dmzx333@gmail.com


“The thing that stands out most in Michael’s work is his unpredictable creativity just when you think you know where he’s going, lyrically or musically, he’ll turn a metaphoric corner on you, double back, sneak up behind you and slip a rainbow in your pocket.
(Hill Country House Concerts, Bulverde Texas)



“Michael P. Smith, Songwriter”

Listen to Michael The_Dutchman_Kerrville, 07

MUSIC.  Now on CDBABY and iTunes!

Selfish Giant Cover (final)


“The Selfish Giant”
Singing and playing a variety of instruments, Smith performs a charming group of songs, inspired by Oscar Wilde’s story. Written for a theatrical production created by puppeteer Blair Thomas. Pure joy!
Get it here: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/michaelpsmith1





MAGIcover“The Gift of the Magi”
Digital Downloads at CDBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/msjo
“A veritable Christmas basket, overflowing with musical treats. Smith’s mahogany and O’Reilly’s pure crystal tones wash over the listener.” (London, Canada)



Michael’s solo CD
Old Man Dancing (on the blog

Original songs: Accokeek, Sure Has Grown, Ballad Of Dorian Gray, Roger Maris, Ballad Of Phil Spector

Five Stars. Maverick UK! 
Michael self-released a recording of the songs from “Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate,” produced by Hills, in 1994. The Wind River subsidiary of Folk Era Records made the album more widely available in February of 2000. The Wind River version included the previously unheard, doo-wop inspired, “Little Falls” – a tribute to the town where Michael spent his teen years and first performed in a band. The disc also featured an extended version of “Coffeehouse Days.” Apart from a few covers, including the Cole Porter standard “Begin The Beguine” and the traditional “Kilgarry Mountain,” Michael penned the remaining material which included spoken narratives. The upbeat “Belmar” recalls a childhood visit to the beach, “Looking For Maureen” is a tale of unrequited love, while “I Brought My Father With Me” remains one of the most touching songs in Smith’s oeuvre. On 1st January 2000, when we were able to assess the music of the century that had just passed, my rating was that “Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate” was, by clear miles, the finest album that had been made. I know that I am not alone in that opinion, and pray that one day the small crowd, that I am currently a member of, becomes a nation [and more]. Smith may be recalling events from his own life, but he does it with consummate honesty, in the process capturing the love, heartache, humour, humility, desperation and countless other emotions that constitute this human existence. As an entity, the album is the finest [musical] journey I have ever taken. I revisit it often.
(Arthur Wood, Maverick UK)


B & W photo by Suzanne Plunkett

Center and right photos by Kevin Viol
Michael with a beret J. Friedrich
One Sheet – Main Royal Design