Michael Sweet - Live in the Vault

Michael Sweet

When you’ve fronted one of the most trailblazing groups of the MTV generation, written a stable of Billboard charting singles, filled arenas all the world over, said goodbye at the peak of it all, took stock in a thriving solo career, got the band back together for yet another record breaking run and even took a stint co-leading one of the most legendary classic rock acts ever, then you undoubtedly have a story to share. But there’s still much more to Michael Sweet than selling over eight million albums in Stryper or singing and guitar slinging for Boston, including an equally riveting behind the scenes story packed to the brim with triumph, heartbreak and redemption that’s finally being told with unvarnished candor through not only the musical means of the solo CD I’m Not Your Suicide, but also the immensely anticipated autobiography Honestly (both hitting streets May 6 on Big3 Records).

“The album is the story of the book and the book is the story of the album,” says the Grammy nominee and Dove Award winner. “It makes a powerful statement to have them both come out at the same time, especially since both have played such an important role in the full circle journey I’ve taken as of late.”

Musically speaking, Sweet is coming off yet another creative high in the Stryper camp thanks to its 2013’s return to form record No More Hell To Pay. Besides making an instantaneous Top 40 debut on the Billboard 200, it landed at #2 on the Top Christian Albums charts, #3 on Top Hard Rock Albums and #6 on Top Rock Albums. It’s certainly a testament to the band’s perseverance, wetting the public’s appetite all the more for Sweet’s I’m Not Your Suicide, which may technically be the follow-up to 2007’s individual offering Touched, but is actually the singer/songwriter’s first full-length original album since 2000’s Truth.

“I think sometimes my different musical influences come out in Stryper, but to a much larger degree, they come out in my solo career,” observes Sweet. “We’ve established a certain style and sound people expect to hear and that’s what we want to play and give. Putting a steel guitar or a country vibe onto a Stryper record probably wouldn’t fit, but my solo albums give me an opportunity to do just that. My self-titled album was arena rock, Real was acoustic rock, Truth was super electric, then Touched was a vocal and symphonic piano album. I’m Not Your Suicide is more in line with Truth, but there’s really something for everyone, from the edgier side you might hear in Stryper, to the lighter side of a piano ballad.”

In other words, get ready to rock out to “Anybody Else,” which benefits from the muscular accompaniment of Whitesnake guitarist Doug Aldrich and Fozzy front man/World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Chris Jericho as it primes itself to be the latest in Sweet’s canon of classics. There’s also the Beatles-esque contagiousness of “This Time,” featuring unmistakable harmonies from Kevin Max (of dc talk and Audio Adrenaline fame), alongside a rock n’ country cover of Neil Young’s “Heart Of Gold,” which plays out as an endearing duet between Sweet and Electra Mustaine (daughter of Megadeth’s Dave Mustaine and a burgeoning country artist in her own right).

Lyrically, there’s also plenty of potency across I’m Not Your Suicide, which is anchored in the title track co-written with Blair Daly (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Sixx:A.M., Rascal Flatts). The affirming anthem chronicles Sweet’s frequent encounters with childhood bullying and even criticism later in life as Stryper was caught between the seemingly divergent worlds of mainstream heavy metal and the Christian faith.

“The title is about multiple subjects tied together, basically going out to anyone who’s been bullied or abused in any sense and serving as a rallying point for not letting someone or a group of people beat you down or take away your value,” he relates. “By being strong, looking at the big picture in the future and moving forward, you’re not their suicide. Musically and lyrically, this project is a soundtrack to rise above your circumstances.”

It’s especially fitting to find the intensely personal nature of these musical expressions supplementing the vastly thorough and revealing subject matter of the book Honestly, titled ever so poignantly after the chart-topping Stryper song of the same name. Not only does Sweet delve further into his rarely discussed youth, but offers a full array of rock n’ roll antidotes, plus several surprises from his family and faith journeys.

“The book has literally everything in it, starting from the time I was born, loving music, being a brat kid pranking my brother, my dad talking him into letting me join his band and even getting arrested multiple times as a kid,” unearths Sweet. “Fast forward to Stryper, and I get into the good and the bad, the fame and the misuse of finances. I go into why I left, why I didn’t want to come back at first, eventually reuniting and the struggles faced doing that. There’s also a portion about moving back up east during a time when I stepped out of music to work at a family business, to my wife Kyle getting sick with cancer and feeling like God wasn’t there for a two year period of her suffering and passing. Then there’s of course my time in Boston right up through meeting and marrying my wife Lisa, along with how that affected my children and our friendships. It’s really an open book and even people who’ve been following my career the whole time are going to be surprised that I’m talking about it all.”

As this double release cycle heats up, Sweet makes a point to mention he’s still most certainly in Stryper (the group is in fact poised to release a live record later this year), but is simply using these solo outlets to channel his unquenchably prolific spark. Besides all those irons in the fire, Sweet also just signed on to a yet-to-be-named supergroup co-starring George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), James LoMenzo (White Lion, Megadeth) and Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Foreigner), who are also slated to release a record sometime in 2014.

“Looking back on my life and career, from the school aged struggles, to music industry success and its many challenges, to seasons of tremendous loss and newfound love, to a resurgence in Stryper’s career and the opportunity to say what I want to say individually, I just hope to be a witness to our faith,” sums up Sweet. “We spent the past 30 years sticking to what we’ve spoken about, and even though we’ve been far from perfect, God’s really blessed us beyond our dreams. I’m here to say this is real and there’s power in what God can do. He not only blessed us all back then, but He continues to bless the band and me personally 30 years later in incredibly new ways, which really blows my mind! I don’t care how many copies this album or book sells. I’m only thinking about the opportunity to tell my story, and in doing so, hopefully it will have a positive effect on someone out there going through at least one of the same things I’ve experienced on the unpredictable and unbelievable ride so far.”

Moriah Formica

Moriah is on her way up. At the young age of 16, her debut album/EP was released July 22nd 2016. This original collection of work showcases her talent and creativity as a truly unique vocalist, musician and songwriter.

Music has been a part of Moriah's life since the beginning. As a baby, she fell asleep to classical music. "Guitar by the Sea" calmed her down like nothing else when it was time to sleep or relax.

Moriah got her first guitar when she was 6. She played around with it on her own for a while until she realized she wanted “more” out of playing. She loved the instrument. All she wanted to do was play it and play it now! At the age of 9 she started guitar lessons but that only lasted for a couple of weeks. She found playing by ear much more appealing than the traditional style of her instructor. She put her lessons on hold and began to teach her herself to play what she heard. Moriah gathered inspiration practicing for countless hours to the bands she loved—starting with her favorite: Aerosmith. Her love for the guitar grew and led her to teach herself other instruments like drums, keyboard, and bass.

In the fifth grade, Moriah’s music teacher recognized her talent and drive. She was given the opportunity to play the guitar in one of the school concerts. She was shy and uncomfortable in front of large groups of people. Her teacher encouraged her in ways that empowered Moriah in spite of her fear of performing. This concert was her very first performance in public. She played "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor. That life-changing performance became a defining moment for Moriah.

During a family party that year, Moriah made her debut vocal performance with Adele’s, “Rolling In The Deep”. Mouths dropped when they heard this very young girl with such a powerful voice. People gathered around to listen as if she had been telling an amazing story.
Moriah's oldest brother learned about an opportunity to take vocal lessons and play in a band at Modern Day Music, a local music school. At MDM, she found an outlet to explore her talents as a lead singer and a guitarist in some of the bands formed by the school. It gave her the platform to quickly develop and grow into a more skilled musician and performer. She was fortunate to work with incredible coaches who taught her how to use her gifts. At MDM, she became more and more comfortable connecting with an audience. She began to take risks and embrace herself as a true performer.

At 11-years old, Moriah wrote her first song, Lovestrong. This song made it to her debut EP years later and would become a favorite of her producer and bandmates. Although she has an appreciation for a wide range of styles, bands in the rock/metal music genre have provided the greatest influences for Moriah. In addition to Aerosmith, other favorite artists of hers are Evanescence and Halestorm. Her most productive writing sessions take place while jamming in her room. The songs she writes show her uncommon grasp of the ways in which instruments collectively sound and flow together--rare for such a young artist.

Moriah has had the privilege of working with some amazing professionals and nationally recognized musicians in the production of her EP. Through her experience, she has learned invaluable lessons that have made her a more skilled, focused and confident performer. She remains open and energized to continue her journey.

Moriah is passionate. She loves music and believes in its unique power to inspire and motivate people. Like so many of us, Moriah wants to make the world a better place. By sharing her music—an extension of herself—Moriah hopes to connect with people and have a positive impact on their lives. For the record…she fully intends to have the time of her life along the way!

Franki Dennull

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