Peaceful, relaxing music on an instrument you’ve probably never heard of.
Carlos Santana said Michael’s music made him feel good and called it “a gift from the heart”.
Top Ten Billboard charting New Age artist Michael Kollwitz is a Stickman, but he’s no drummer. He is one of very few musicians who have mastered an unusual stringed instrument called “The Chapman Stick”, and for the past forty years, he has stayed true to his mission to bring The Stick’s unique music to as many people as he can. He may have been born under a lucky star, or it might have been good old serendipity, but in the 1970’s, Michael was fortunate to cross paths with The Stick’s inventor, Emmett Chapman. To Michael’s delight, Emmett was more than willing to take him under his wing and the two embarked on a teacher-student journey that has lasted to this day.
Though Michael’s music career began back in high school as a talented trumpet player, once The Stick was in his hands, he didn’t look back. The Chapman Stick is the only instrument he now plays and records on. The Stick’s magic may well lie in the simplicity of its design: it’s part of the guitar family, and indeed, resembles the neck and head of a guitar, but is played more like a piano with two-handed tapping, and has an incredibly versatile range of sounds. The expressive instrument gives players endless possibilities, and Michael has harnessed these with virtuosic effect.
Being a first generation Stickman came with decided benefits for Michael. Consistently booked for musical gigs, he traveled extensively, opening for the Beach Boys one year, and earning raves for his one-of-a-kind performances along the way. By the early 2000’s, he had amassed such a following that he decided to record his first solo album and join the festival and fair circuit to play music full time. Sacramento became home base for a time, and with his typical flair, Michael became a fixture in the community as a street performer in Old Sacramento. He had numerous television appearances, radio interviews and even starred as the subject of the award-winning documentary, “Stick Man.” In 2007, seeking new adventures, he relocated to Hawaii.
Hawaii proved to be a musically fertile place for Michael. He crossed paths with Carlos Santana while playing a gig on Maui, and Santana was visibly moved by Michael’s music. Fresh off the glow of having a personal musical idol respond so well to him, Mick Fleetwood also happened upon Michael during a performance. Fleetwood planted the seed that Hawaiian music would sound amazing played on The Stick, and Michael went on to record six albums during his time on Maui.
Michael has since taken The Stick to new heights, recording music in such diverse genres as Jazz, Classic Rock, Latin, Hawaiian, and Americana. Michael’s 21st album, “Serenity”, marked a change in course for his music. From the album art of the famous Sedona landmark, Bell Rock, to the rich, versatile songs, Michael’s goal was to create a sonically healing experience, and evoke simplicity and relaxation for his listeners.
Michael’s 22nd album ‘Serenity II’ is the Billboard Top Ten New Age charting followup album to ‘Serenity- Peaceful Music on The Chapman Stick’ (2017) that reached #8 on Billboard one week after its release in April 2018. Michael’s first album in the New Age genre – ‘Serenity I’ – enthralled listeners worldwide and continues to receive international acclaim and airplay while introducing many to a little-known instrument capable of astounding expressiveness and versatility. ‘Serenity I’ reached #8 on the Zone Music Reporter chart in Sept. 2017 and was nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album of 2017 by One World Music Radio in the United Kingdom. It also gained placements on the ‘Spa’ channels of four international airlines.
Both albums consist of a full hour of simple, peaceful, relaxing music on the extraordinary yet uncommon stringed instrument created by Emmett Chapman in 1974 known as The Chapman Stick. One of the inventor’s first students, Kollwitz wields his considerable talents on The Stick to create unusual sonic tapestries that evoke calmness, healing and reflection- just like the red rocks of his hometown in Sedona, Arizona. He credits his musical inspiration to his ongoing study of ‘Steps To Knowledge- The Book Of Inner Knowing’ by Marshall Vian Summers.
Michael has performed at more than a thousand festivals, fairs, civic & corporate events. Carlos Santana called his music “a gift from the heart” that made him feel good the moment he heard it. He’s been an opening act for The Beach Boys, The Goo Goo Dolls and has introduced many to the new instrument over the years including Mick Fleetwood and Herbie Hancock.
Over the years, his albums and music have spread worldwide. His music has been featured on both national and international radio, in television appearances and he was the subject of an award-winning short documentary by Roy Plisko entitled “Stick Man”. His musical style has been influenced by many genres including Jazz, Rock, Latin, Hawaiian and New Age.
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