Michael Peterson

Singer Songwriter Patriot

by Tommy Jackson


I've been privileged to have met a large number of music stars in my career. All of course are talented; almost all are down to earth and very friendly; and finally, many are gifted in a number of other areas as well. Then there is Michael Peterson (And that by the way can only be interpreted as the highest form of praise).


Michael Peterson is all those and a lot more as well. What an impressive guy! He looks like he could play in a movie about the Old West, and has in fact appeared in an episode of "Walker Texas Ranger". He was also a member of the Pacific Lutheran University football team that won a national championship. Interestingly enough it was his friendship with a former teammate on that championship team who went on to work as a producer for gospel star Deniece Williams that helped Peterson get established in the music business. More on that in a bit.


I remember Michael from the late-90s when "From Here to Eternity" was racing up the charts. Two thoughts came to mind watching and listening to Michael on the small screen back then: "What a great voice and what charisma" were my thoughts.


Now fast forward about 20 years down the road, when after hearing and meeting Michael in Branson, my earlier thoughts from seeing him that first time on television were only reinforced.


Michael smiles a lot, especially when talking about the red-hot new show in Branson called "Raiding The Country Vault". Housed at the beautiful state-of-the-art Mansion Theatre, the show is drawing rave reviews from both the media as well as the fan-generated Trip Advisor rating. It is easy to see Michael Peterson is proud of this excellent body of work and he should be! He is a vital cog in the talent-rich cast (which he also helped select). He is Joint Musical Director as well as handling lead vocals and playing guitar. He's joined on stage by the likes of Billy Yates, Danielle Peck, Colt Prather, Michelle Poe, and Melody Hart. All possess very strong resumes. Band members have equally strong credentials as well. We don't think we would be too far out on a limb to say this is the most talent ever assembled on a Branson stage. Heck we may even go a bit farther on that limb by saying the Branson talent level rivals both Nashville and Las Vegas, maybe surpasses!


Let's go back to Michael's first job in Nashville. He was a songwriter who got acquainted with a couple of guys named Josh Leo and Robert Ellis Orrall as Michael was paying his dues in the early days he was in town. He followed the advice of his buddies to pursue a singing career, and Leo and Orrall later co-produced Peterson's first album for Reprise. The self-titled product yielded five charted songs. "From Here to Eternity" went to the top of the charts, but "Drink, Swear, Steal and Lie" didn't miss by much and remains a cult favorite to this day. Another cut on the debut album that I still listen to a great deal was "Too Good To Be True".


So with five hits on the first album and awards coming Peterson's way, there was much buzz about the upcoming sophomore project. It was titled "Being Human" and was released in 1999. It debuted to positive reviews and produced two charted songs. A third album was never released, save for Europe. So after seven hit songs for an artist who was well-liked and charismatic, what happened! Well what happened was label politics and jealousy and egos got in the way inside the label's hallowed walls, so Michael Peterson, instead of "household word", became an innocent victim caught up in the slime.


No one ever said life was fair, particularly in that crazy business called "country music", but, friends, Michael Peterson certainly has had the last laugh ever since.


Here is what I mean. While I don't know how appropriate it would be to call Peterson the "new Bob Hope", one could certainly make an argument for that title going on Michael's resume. You see he has given more than 150 performances for our service men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan, which prompted the USO to present him with the highly distinguished "Bob Hope Spirit of Hope Award". But that's not all...his voice has been featured on spots for the following: Special Olympics, Selective Service, Ronald McDonald House, USO, St. Jude's Research Hospital, American Legion, the New Holland Corporation and the U.S. Army. In addition he has been a contributing author on the "New York Times" best-selling "Chicken Soup For The Soul" series. He and his wife COL. (Retired) Jill Chambers collaborated on the children's book, "Little Is Good".


In addition to being featured on 18 albums, he has been the primary male voice for the acclaimed 21st Century Orchestra and Chorus on their Western Concert Series in both this year and 2015 that has traveled to acclaimed venues all over the world, including the Frankfurt Opera House and London's Royal Albert Hall.


Michael Peterson is a good guy who though he never achieved world-wide status as a singer, has certainly far surpassed everyone else we know of who did achieve such status, and Michael's recognition is for doing the things that count!


By the way in another example of his amazing versatility, Peterson has had songs he has written recorded by artists who hold memberships in various pop, country, gospel, and rock halls of fame.


"Raiding the Country Vault" takes the audience on a highly entertaining journey through the greatest hits of country music. The show runs through October 29. (The last two weeks of September include only weekend shows while there will be no shows the week of October 17-23.) You can contact the theatre at 417-335-2000 for a complete schedule and ticket information or visit raidingthecountryvault.com. We give it a most enthusiastic recommendation and can't wait to go back again soon.


Tommy Jackson is a former newspaper editor who now writes a weekly entertainment column. Contact him at tommyjackson1a@yahoo.com.


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