Michael Flayhart was born in Birmingham, AL on July 22, 1992 to Laurie and Bob Flayhart, who had moved to Birmingham 4 years earlier to plant a PCA church. At a very young age Michael took great interest in creative writing, sometimes sitting under his bed for hours to write poetry and short stories. He spent 2 years writing a fantasy novel, collaborating with other writers and editors on the project, though the book was never completed.
When he turned 8, Michael received his first piano and began taking lessons. He went through multiple teachers, having a frustrating experience because his teachers wanted him to look at the sheet music while he played but Michael would have his teacher play the song once for him and then he would play the song by ear, sometimes pretending to read the sheet music. Michael stopped taking lessons several years later.
Michael also enjoyed creating art through sketching and painting, sometimes venturing into the use of other mediums as well, such as pastels. When visiting his grandparents in Niceville, FL he would sit for hours and draw birds. Around the same time, Michael started to develop an even stronger interest in entrepreneurship by taking his art to computers and learning how to use Adobe Photoshop. He then taught himself HTML and CSS and began creating websites as a hobby. He launched several projects such as TeenLife, an online creative writing magazine, Hyrule Settlement, a fan site for Zelda, and a joint project with his brother called Gaming-Vortex, which reviewed upcoming video games. These websites gained mild popularity. Michael’s first highly successful website was Shadow-Grove, a fan site for a then popular MMORPG called Shadowbane. The online role-playing game, published by Ubisoft®, was essentially dropped from the company’s radar, and the timing worked out such that Shadow-Grove launched right as Ubisoft lost interest in supporting the game. Shadow-Grove then became the primary website used by fans of Shadowbane. While both the game and the website lived a short life (1-2 years) after Ubisoft left the project, the success was viral, accumulating millions of users during its lifespan and giving Michael a strong presence in the world wide web, known at the time under the pseudonym Mike Hart.
After the success of Shadow-Grove died down, Michael decided that he would like to try his hand at making his own video games for the PC platform. At this point Michael was about 12 years old. He created several games without seeing much success, spending the majority of his time working on a PC-based sequel to the Golden Sun video game series, which gained support from a large number of the game’s fans, though the project was never completed.
When Michael turned 15, he still spent a large amount of his time creating websites. During this time, a family friend by the name of Rick Holladay hired Michael to do some design work. Holladay was an entrepreneur himself and saw that Michael had talent in design, so he advised Michael to start a web and graphics design company and offered to invest in it as well. Holladay suggested that Michael call the company Artigrafx, and in May of 2008, Artigrafx, LLC became a registered company in the state of Alabama.
From 2008 to 2010, Michael dedicated his time to creating websites for small businesses under Artigrafx, LLC, using his young age as an incentive for business owners to hire him since he could “offer high-quality websites at a great value.”
In early 2010, Michael started thinking about his career and where he should attend college. This was a difficult time because, while Michael was talented in many different areas, he was unsure about what his passion truly was. It was then that Michael realized that he had spent his entire life cycling through new hobbies and passions every 1-2 years, and the only thing he had never stopped doing was singing and playing the piano. So he made the decision to attend Belmont University in Nashville, TN and pursue a career in music.
Michael spent his first year as an established musician playing in venues across Alabama, primarily as a singer/songwriter playing coffeehouse music that he had written. In his freshman year at Belmont, Michael found himself losing interest in writing coffeehouse music. His inspirations had always been bands such as Green Day, Muse, Blink-182, and other rock, alternative, and punk bands, but he never ventured into those genres because he feared that his smooth, jazzy voice could not handle the power and grit often required to suit such musical styles. In May, 2012, Michael decided it was time for him to release a debut album. He called his producer and set a deadline for the album to be released in August, 2012. When Michael and his producer, Darren Morton (Gat 3 Studios) worked out the schedule for the album, they saw that time allowed Michael to only have two weeks to write the music for the record. In the first few days of the writing period, Michael felt conflicted between what his fans knew him for (singer/songwriter coffeehouse music) and what he knew he truly had a passion for. Despite advice to stick with the singer/songwriter genre, Michael chose to take a chance and began writing whatever came to his mind, no matter what genre it was. The first song written in that two week period was Enemy, later released as a single in late July of 2012.
As of now, Michael’s debut album, Sound Manifesto, is still set to be released in early October, 2012. The album will feature 12 songs.