By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs

Last year was a rather eventful one for acoustic singer/songwriter Rocky Michaels.

This past May, Michaels was named as a finalist for "U.S. Male Rising Star of the Year" by the International Singer Songwriter's Association.

In October, he was one of the winners of Music Beats Cancer's crowdfunding challenge and came in second place, raising $3,000.00 in the process.

The winners were featured in a 60 second spot on iHeartRadio's Q102, a top 40 station in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

Michaels continues to build on his good fortune. On April 29 he released his third CD, Be the Change, which follows his sophomore effort, "Music for My Soul" and his 2020 critically acclaimed debut album, "The Great American Dream." spoke by phone with Michaels, who lives in Danville, California with his wife and two kids.
He discussed his love of music and his journey as a singer and songwriter as well as why partnering with Music Beats Cancer was so personal and emotional for him. Here is what else the talented and affable musician had to say.

Q. What made you want to be an acoustic guitarist and singer songwriter?

A. I began taking piano lessons at age 5, which formed the foundation for my musical experience later on. Right after college, my buddies and I started a band and began playing around the Bay Area. While performing mostly cover songs at first, we slowly began writing our own material. Also, hanging out with the guitarists, I began to learn a few guitar chords and really enjoyed the experience of combining piano with guitar writing. I found it to be a very synergetic process and it wound up expanding the creative possibilities for me further.
After the band parted ways, I continued to pursue my acquired passion for songwriting and continue to do so to this day.

Q. Your father and mother-in-law were diagnosed with Cancer. Most people that experienced the type of family tragedies as you might not have been able to persevere, but you have. What's given you such strength and how did you decide to partner with Music Beats Cancer?

A. Thank you for saying that. Fortunately, everyone in my inner circle is doing well. Regarding perseverance, I suppose my attitude was I didn't really think of it as a choice. We all needed to stay strong for each other. I became aware of Music Beats Cancer through social media and immediately reached out, given my family’s cancer issues along with my love of music. After having had the opportunity to speak directly with Dr. Mona Jhaveri, the CEO, I was so impressed with her mission and passion for the cause that it was very easy for me to get onboard.

Q. Tell me about the Music Beats Cancer organization? Where is the company based and how long has it been around?

A. Music Beats Cancer is a recently created crowdfunding non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. Their mission is to change the funding breakdown, known as the "Valley of Death," where great ideas go to die, by leveraging the power and passion of people and music to help raise funds and awareness of promising cancer innovations that would otherwise not receive the necessary funding.

Q. What did you have to do to be part of the Crowdfunding Challenge?

A. For the challenge, all participants had 30 days back in September to spread their message and raise donations. The top five artists in terms of donations raised were selected as the winners and had their music links promoted on social media. While it certainly felt good to have placed among the top five, what was more important was the amount of funds raised and the increased awareness for the great cause. So, in that sense, everyone wins!

Q. Where do donations to Music Beats Cancer go? How are they used?

A. The donations raised by MBC are used to increase the number of cancer-fighting technologies in the product development pipeline so that more solutions make it to those in need.

Q. How can people help you out and is there a website they can go to contribute in some way?

A. Those interested can always start with the non-profit website at In addition, I can be reached through my website at

Q. Who are your biggest musical influences?

A. Growing up, I would say the Eagles, Rolling Stones, Simon & Garfunkel, Tom Petty, and John Mellencamp were a few names that I gravitated toward. These days, I really admire so many others as well, including John Mayer, Kenny Chesney, the Zac Brown Band and even Post Malone (thanks to my kids).

Q. If you could wave a magic wand what artists, past or present would you like to perform with on stage?

A. Ooh, so many to choose among! A few that come to mind would be Bruce Springsteen, The Eagles and Tim McGraw. But just being onstage with an established artist would be amazing!

Q. How do you see the next chapter of your life playing out?

A. The wonderful thing about songwriting is that it is not limited by age. Hopefully, I can continue to write and share my music and messages for years to come. Regardless of the number of future streams or followers I may or may not acquire, when one person tells me they've related to a song of mine or have been moved emotionally in some way, that's the best form of currency I can think of receiving.

Editor’s Note: For more information on Rocky Michaels and his new CD, Be The Change, log on to his Website at