Interview with Songwriting alumnus Michael Amadi

We quiz our songwriting alumnus on how powerful music offers hope during tough times…
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Originally from Florence, Italy, our Songwriting alumni Michael Amadi came to the UK, as he says, nervous about his musical future.

But his old self should never have had any doubts. Fast forward three years and he’s just released his new single, 'Rise Again, a powerful piece of positivity featuring a 15-piece gospel choir and won the Songwriting Award at our recent graduation event. Watch the video below funded by our very own Accelerator Fund

If you’ve ever frequented the Dorchester or The Savoy, then you may also have come into contact with Michael and his music as he’s a resident at many of London’s top hotels. He’s come a long way in a short time and we caught up with him to find out how he’s done it…  

How did you get started in music?

My first memory of music was when I was six. I remember going to church three times a week to play the organ and sing in the choir! Those were also the years when I started my first studies in guitar, piano and music theory. My mum used to drive me to school and we were listening a lot of Michael Jackson and Elton John. 'Invincible' and 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' were probably the first records I’ve ever listened to. In 2003 I watched Robbie Williams’ 'Live at Knebworth' and that’s what made me think: I want to do that, I want be a musician! 

How did you find your experiences with ICMP?

I moved to London in 2015 from Florence, Italy, my hometown. I remember being really nervous about it because it was the first time moving out from home and I didn’t really know what to expect. I decided to join ICMP because I wanted to improve my artistry, writing and performance skills so I joined the songwriting course.  For me that was a big step!

The challenge was being able to do a university in a different language, working with successful people in the music industry and meeting all the expectations. Fast-forward three years later, I graduated with the highest marks of my course and won the award for “Best Overall” songwriting student."

I found ICMP to be the perfect place for me to grow as an artist. It is a really supportive environment and I feel like I’ve learnt so much from it. All the people I met there and worked with - including tutors, staff and course mates - have contributed to make my experience at ICMP really positive. 

'Rise Again' is your new song - could you talk a little about this new release - where did the idea for the song come from? 

The idea came when I was in the US. I was given the opportunity to do a tour between New York and Portland, Oregon. I was really excited to be there because that was my first time in the States and I was so happy that music brought me there!

On the last day of the tour I felt so grateful and I remember thinking of finding ways for giving back. I started writing a series of songs with the intention of sharing them with organisations that help people through music. A few months later I wrote 'Rise Again' , the song I was most happy about. It has a very powerful and uplifting message that reminds people of not giving up when things in life get hard. 

Where did the partnership with Healing Using Music begin? 

After I wrote the song I started looking online hoping to find an organisation that would have been interested in doing a collaboration. That’s how I found Healing Using Music in Vancouver, Canada. I sent them a letter with the song and the idea of organising some events together to spread the message.

They were so excited about it so we started working together. I am happy I chose to work with them because their message as a non-profit really resonates with the intention that I put behind the music I write: using music as a way to bring happiness into people's lives. They are a collective of musicians that organize musical events in collaboration with local charities. Back in January 2018 they flew me to Canada to perform The Rise Again Concert Tour: a series of shows, including acoustic sets, songwriter’s circles in the Vancouver community and a concert with Ronald McDonald House Charities for children facing treatment for cancer. This is how the partnership started. I’m looking forward to see what else we are going to do together!

You also perform at the Dorchester - could you talk a little about this? How did you get the gig and what has it taught you? 

I am a resident singer/pianist at top hotels around London, including The Dorchester and The Savoy Hotel. This has been a blessing for me because it allows me to make a living out of what I love doing. I perform up to five piano and vocal shows a week and still it doesn’t really feel like a job to me. I call it a dream!" 

It started two years ago. I had to go through some auditions because I didn’t get the call back immediately, it took a while to get where I am today. I am glad that I  kept persisting and working for it. I also had the honour to be heard and complimented by Chris Martin from Coldplay, Nicole Kidman and many others VIPs! This makes me think that I am moving in the right direction.

Could you talk a little about your creative process? Have you a way into your music and songwriting? 

When it comes to writing songs for me it is all about being honest with myself. I usually sit on a piano or grab a guitar and write what I really feel I need to say and share. I have been doing this since a very young age, even before I knew what songwriting is, so today this process comes really naturally.

What's the best piece of advice you've heard about songwriting? And what's the best piece of advice you'd give to our students? 

A really good friend of mine once reminded me that I always have to put 100 percent of myself in what I do because if I love it, other people will love it too. This can be applied to many things but I always keep this is mind when I do music! 

After finishing ICMP I feel I can advise other people going through the same experience to keep working their crafts! Everything we are doing as artists it is in preparation for what it’s coming next. The unknown doesn’t scare when you keep preparing for it! 

Listen to 'Rise Again': 

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Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email enquiries@icmp.ac.uk and start your music career today.

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by Jim Ottewill
December 13, 2018
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