J.Michael O’Neal is a Los-Angeles based pianist whose sound traverses jazz, pop, and gospel with a fresh approach that blends intricate harmonies with urban-rhythmic undercurrents. His music can best be described as soulfully authentic, passionate, and imaginative. His unique talent gave him the opportunity to work with artists like Howard McCrary, James Ingram, Melissa Manchester, Jon Gibson, Tyrone Wells, Peabo Bryson, Cece Winans, and Brian Duncan. His conceptual groove stirs listeners to RE-Imagine Music. J.Michael’s music bridges the genre gap, fusing together diverse musical elements to create unique sounds in the music industry.
"Whatever you play,
make the people
- J.Michael O'Neal
J.Michael furthered his training by studying under world-renowned instructors, such as producer and Grammy nominee, Howard McCrary; jazz pianists Billy Childs and Joe Bagg; Grammy award winners, Ottmaro Ruiz and Bill Cunliffe and Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Stan Breckenridge. His innovative technique bridges the genre gap and defies traditional conventions. He has worked with: Dove Award Winner Dex Alexander, Howard Hewitt, Rebirth, Elaine Macaluso, Keaton Simons, Emile Welman, Stephanie Mills, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr.
He also had the pleasure of performing for artists such as Teena Marie, Ruben Studdard, Tyrone Wells, Jon Gibson, Peabo Bryson, and Cece Winans, as well as the Golden Globes party hosted by Prince, with performances from Justin Timberlake, Adam Levine, and Herbie Hancock.
J.Michael cites many who have inspired his work such as Herbie Hancock, Stevie Wonder, Chic Corea, George Duke, Bernard Wright, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Sting, and many more.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Since third grade, J.Michael knew he had a unique gift of creating unconventional, melodious sounds when he played the theme of a popular movie note-for-note at a friend’s house, despite not owning a piano at his home. His mother, Saundra O’Neal, a prolific singer in the church, insisted on piano lessons. Soon after, he studied the classics of Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Schubert and Schumann with Patty Brumleve for nine more years.
He established his Gospel roots in middle school while playing at Fountain of Love Christian Center; the church founded by his mother and late father, Dr. James M. O’Neal. J.Michael’s mother, Saundra, often sang spirituals and hymns both at church and home. His paternal grandmother, endeared as “Big Mama”, had a great impact on his early Jazz development by introducing him to Wynton Kelly, Wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith. J.Michael wanted to further his music career, and was determined to hone his skill. He would go on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Piano Performance from the University of La Verne. His love for music and education led him to continue his education. He would later receive a full scholarship to attend Azusa Pacific University to attain his Master’s in Music with an emphasis in Piano Performance (Commercial Piano).
J.Michael’s respect for musicianship and mentorship is reflected in his love for teaching music. He has extended his vision beyond the piano for the past 18 years, instructing, mentoring, inspiring and encouraging other young musicians. He taught at various colleges in Southern California; including: Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, Univ. of La Verne Citrus College, and Azusa Pacific University. J.Michael has had the opportunity to lecture on a wide-range of musical subjects from Jazz History, History of Hip-Hop, Commercial Piano, and History of Pop music.