A performer, educator, composer, and conductor, Michael Shirtz is known for his versatility with jazz, contemporary, and classical music audiences. As an entertainer his vocal style and arrangements feature Jazz, Blues, Funk, Rock, Gospel, and Singer/Songwriter styles into his performances. Credited as a “songsmith,” his shows highlight 20th Century American music and legendary artists through multimedia performances, leading to the release of his most recent show and album Blue Skies in 2018. Shirtz has worked with such artists as Maureen McGovern, Melissa Manchester, Evelyn Wright, among others.
“Mike approaches the piano like a masterful storyteller. He is sensitive to what he is “saying.”
Whether simple, or profound he is adept at making musical statements that reach the hearts
of every listener.”
- Johnny Parker, music director & producer
His conducting credits include vocal coaching and directing educational, repertory theatre, masterwork, and pops music productions for choral, symphonic, and music festival organizations. Shirtz has written compositions for choirs, orchestras, jazz bands, musical theater, and major works such as "The Solemn Blessings" and his most recent musical narrative, "To Rise Above: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman."
“Strong musicianship and spontaneous substantive
musical ideas flow effortlessly from Mike’s performances.”
- Pete Ford, jazz pianist
Holding degrees in jazz studies and conducting from Capital University Conservatory of Music and California State University, Los Angeles, Shirtz has served on the faculty for Capital University, American Music Academy, Terra State Community College, and director in residence for Pellissippi State-Knoxville.
Currently, Shirtz is an active performer and leads the Michael Shirtz Quartet, conducts the Symphony Chorale with the Firelands Symphony Orchestra & School of Music, teaches with Heidelberg University's School of Music & Theatre, and works with Tri-C JazzFest & Performing Arts Series. Shirtz is a member of ASCAP, African American Jazz Caucus, and Jazz Education Network. His advocacy for mental health awareness and engaging communities in creativity have led to a series of programs and workshops with music therapist Dr. Deforia Lane entitled, Finding Your Way.