Jazz guitarist, Anthony Papamichael, released his first CD, Just Like It Sounds, in 1999. The first song he wrote for the CD, is entitled “A Scar to Remind Me.” Anthony is often asked where this title came from. It came from two places, his heart and literally his right hand. For that is the hand that in 1997, punched through the window of his home. His home that was on fire. The home that had his fiance’, his dog, his guitars in it. All the things that he loved were gone. Having lost everything in that fire, the scar was all he had to remember.
Processing this experience was so very difficult for Anthony. He felt as if a bomb had exploded on his whole life. The loss was so large. Where does one start to grieve when so many things were lost? This conflict caused Anthony to experience headaches and the one thing that gave him relief was playing guitar. Slowly, through his music he was beginning to heal. His need to create was huge. Anthony knew that if he was being healed through the music, so could others. This idea kept him going and the thought that his music could live on without him was comforting. Anthony knew he had the creative power to record his first CD.
It was always Anthony’s goal to record original music. The native New Yorker had a strong music foundation. Starting with his formal education, Anthony was accepted to the “Fame” famous, Music & Art High School of NYC and then attended the arts focused, Five Towns College. His foundation was fortified even more when Anthony became friends with legendary jazz guitarist, Joe Pass.
After college, Anthony and a college buddy opened a recording studio. It was here that Anthony learned how to produce. He loved having access to all the equipment. Mixing boards, synthesizers, recording devices, you name it, he got to use it and soon he was marrying his musical talent with the technical side of the music industry. During this time, Anthony fulfilled his need to perform by playing with a very successful Led Zeppelin cover band. It was the 80’s. Rap music was hitting the scene. Boy bands were hot and R&B was still spilling over from the 70’s. This brought in the likes of Usher, New Kids on the Block, M.C. Lite, Dru Hill and Barry White to Anthony’s studio. As he produced he learned what he liked and what he would want to pull from to fuse his own style.
After eight years working at the studio in Queens, NY, Anthony was sick of spending over thirty minutes each night looking for a parking spot. He decided it was time for a change. He was looking for a slower pace, better cost of living and of course a great music scene. After some research, he decided on Atlanta. Though the stress of NYC living was gone, Anthony’s life was out of balance. He had no time to record and the writing/composing just wasn’t coming naturally. Then came the fire.
As his hand and his heart healed, Anthony began to believe that things would be better. He believed that “God, the universe, spirit, whatever you want to call it,” would help restore the balance to his life. Having just experienced so much bad, wasn’t it now possible to experience that much good? Anthony knew that he had a story to tell. He wanted to touch people with his story and his music. It was time for him to live the dream. He already lived the nightmare.
Today, Anthony is living the dream. He balances his music (he is finishing up his fifth CD with his band Papamichael World Group), his work (he works for an audio-visual firm) and his family (Anthony is married with a little girl) with an open heart, grateful soul and a scar to remind how far he has come.
SOUL Survey Questions
- How do you stay focused and motivated?
The end result feels so good. I know the feeling of the reward and I look forward to feeling that again.
- How do you deal with naysayers?
Being a jazz muscian, I hear it all the time. “Is there a market for that?” “Why not do something more traditional.” I know that if I go with my gut and I’m not forced into an idea, I will be happy.
- How do you blur the lines between work and play?
For me it’s all about balance. I have a full-time job that funds my dream. It takes a lot of the worry out of the equation. I am fortunate to have the situation where I can work on my job and music with some flexibility. But, when I’m in front of a crowd and I can feel that they get it, I know I’m an artist. And that’s play.