‘American Idol’ contestant Michael Williams joins Philharmonic at Mason event

WARREN COUNTY — Michael Williams, a Mason resident who made it to the Top 20 on “American Idol” last spring will make a special guest appearance with the Southwest Ohio Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of this month.

Williams will perform several patriotic songs. He will also share several of the songs he sang on the show.

The Journal-News spoke with Williams in a Q & A to find out more about the concert as well as what he’s been working on lately, musically.

QUESTION: What we can expect from the upcoming concert?

MICHAEL WILLIAMS: I’m really excited to perform with the Southwest Ohio Philharmonic. I have never performed with an orchestra before in this type of a setting. So, I’m very excited to explore this new part of my artistry.

The event is called “America the Beautiful.” It’s a patriotic concert, so I’ll be singing a couple patriotic songs. I’m going to be singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and I will be singing “America the Beautiful,” and I’m really excited about those two songs, specifically, just because I love the country we live in, but also the pride of living in Mason, and getting to share this community with everybody that lives here.

This performance is going to be super exciting. I’m also singing two songs from “American Idol,” that I performed on the show, so I’m thrilled to get to be able to share those with everyone that comes out to the performance. One song I will perform, which is very near and dear to my heart, is called “Tuesdays,” and while I was on the show, I got to dedicate it to my parents, who have been married for 39 years, so that was very cool. It’s about love being a lot more than the butterflies, and the highs, it’s about living every day with somebody, and choosing them every single day.

People can expect a really fun night of music from the orchestra, and some special guests, and it will just be a nice night with family and friends.

Q: You’ve performed a lot of different places, but what is it like for you when you have a chance to perform in your hometown, whether that’s in the Cincinnati area or Mason?

A: There’s nothing like performing back home. With all the traveling I get to do, I do get to perform in a lot of different places, but coming home, there’s nothing like the support and the love from the community that we get to live in. So, I have to be honest, the hometown performances are always my favorite.

Q: Give us an overview of some of the things you’re working on right now, musically?

A: From the time I got off of “American Idol,” I’ve been writing songs, and working on my own mini-EP, or mini-album, so it’s an EP. I’ve just been putting together different songs I’ve written over the past few years about my journey that I’ve been on with falling in love, and falling out of love, and everything like that, and everything in between. I have an acoustic version of one of my songs that I released in January coming out at the end of this month, actually on the day of this performance. It’s an acoustic version of my song, “Honey.”

After that, I have a single from the EP coming out, about a month after the performance, and that song has a new vibe for me. That single is going to be released on Oct. 27, and the EP is coming out on Nov. 17. So, I’m very excited about all of that, and later on, I might be announcing another hometown show this fall.

Q: You were in the Top 20 on “American Idol,” and before that you were on “The Voice.” Those are a couple of the highlights, but can you tell us what this has been like for you?

A: My musical journey has come from family support, basically. When I grew up, my Dad was a pastor, and my Mom did the choir, so I was highly influenced by the music there. She would sing around the house, and I would hear songs and church, and everything like that. It was always a desire and dream of mine to pursue music professionally, but it wasn’t until I graduated high school that it really became a reality.

I got the big opportunities like “The Voice,” and “American Idol,” and working with Pat Benatar on a professional musical project, and working with people like Idina Menzel in professional theater, but also, most of my musical career is the hard work. It’s songwriting, and getting in rooms with people to work on the stories that I want to tell, knowing who I really want to be, and what I want to say with music, and that’s in the small moments of sitting in the studio and diving into the life that I’ve had, and the experiences I’ve had, and trying to put those experiences into words and music.

Q: Going back to the TV shows, how did those opportunities come about?

A: Both “The Voice” and “American Idol” really shaped me into who I am, and who I am becoming as an artist. When I was younger, I would watch the music reality TV shows with my sister, and my family, and they would say, ‘That’s something you should go for, or ‘You should do it.,’ and I didn’t know if I ever felt ready. So, when I did “The Voice,” I was like this is what I’m going to do. I feel ready, let’s do it, and see what happens, and it pushed me into the music industry pretty fast as a 17-year-old, or an 18-year-old, and I really got to know the in’s and out’s of what it takes to do this.

Walking away from “The Voice,” it just gave me a greater sense of confidence in my abilities, also the sense of ‘I can do this. This is what I want to do with my life, and this is what I want to do with my career.’ Both of the shows taught me that everybody has that unique aspect about themselves. It’s like when you talk about snowflakes, and how every single one is unique. That’s the same with everybody’s story. The reason why the music reality shows are so cool is because you get to know the people and their stories, and you find out a little bit more that you might not necessarily get to know otherwise, and I that’s really cool, because I think everybody has a story. And, everybody has a unique thing, and that influenced my writing heavily.

Going from “The Voice” into “American Idol,” there was a greater sense of confidence, like, I kind of know how this works, but also I just wanted a greater ability to connect with my fans, and the people of Mason and Cincinnati, because they’ve been so supportive of me. I just want to represent Mason well, if you know what I mean? So, it was really cool to be able to do that, and then, come off the show and know who I am more. I know the artist that I want to be, the kind of person I want to be, and I know what I want my work to represent.

Q: You touched on love, and falling in love earlier, and maybe that’s one thing you really want to communicate about through your songs, but what are some other key things that you would hope to speak to or address in your songs?

A: I just want everyone to feel known and seen. I want people to know that everybody has a place in this world, everybody has a purpose to be here, and that they can achieve what they want to achieve. A big thing for me with my music is I write love songs and I love talking about love, and when people come to a Michael Williams show, I just want them to be able to have a good time, I want them to be able to check out of whatever they are stressing about, or the pressures of life, and I want them to be able to be entertained, and feel a connection through my songs.

I want people to know that we’re all going through stuff, and nobody’s alone. And because we all experience similar things, we can help each other out.

How to go

What: “America the Beautiful” featuring the Southwest Ohio Philharmonic orchestra with special guest Michael Williams

When: 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29

Where: Corwin Nixon Park, 6249 Mason Montgomery Road, Mason

Cost: Free

More info: www.swophil.com. Note: in the event of inclement weather, the concert will take place inside the Mason Middle School Auditorium at 6370 Mason Montgomery Road.

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