Our sincerest thanks to Michael
English for sending us these wonderful photographs!
We all know what it feels like to have an admiration
for someone in the public eye, whether it's a sports
figure, a politician, an actor, or in my case ....
an amazing musician.
Travel back in time
with me if you will to 1991. After a couple of schlocky
horror films, I had just booked my first credited
role in a big studio film, Batman Returns.
A couple of nervous weeks before filming began, I
was home flipping through channels on my TV. Landing
on TBN, I saw a bunch of old-time southern gospel
singers standing around a piano, singing my favorite
style of music. I put the remote down and sat back
Then it happened.
As someone says, "Sing the second verse, Michael,"
the camera pans to a tall young fellow in a turtleneck.
That was the first time I understood the term "voice
of an angel." The TV special was the very first
Gaither Homecoming. This voice belonged to a member
of the Gaither Vocal Band who instantly became my
favorite male vocalist of all time ... Michael English
... singing what has become a signature song of his,
"I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy."
Since 1991, I have
followed his life and career as closely as an admirer
can. I own every solo album of his, every Gaither
Vocal Band album that he is a part of, and I play
them all with the frequency of a crazed fan. As my
own movie career took off, and I began to travel more
for location shoots, Michael's CDs would make every
trip with me. Without him knowing it, Michael has
sung me through all the peaks and valleys of my own
personal and professional life. He's been the voice
that keeps me company on road trips, that soothes
me after a horrible day, or that celebrates with me
after a fantastic day. All the while, as most fans
do, I would wonder what it might be like to know him
in real life. Would we be able to relate to each other?
Would we share a sense of humor? All that.
So this past November,
almost exactly 19 years after that first TV viewing,
I am sitting in my hotel room after a very full day
appearing at Austin Comic Con in Texas. The song I
needed to hear to calm me into a slumber before the
next day was "Healing" by Michael and his
good friend Wynonna Judd (from The Silent Fall
movie soundtrack). I linked that YouTube video into
messages on all my social media, saying, "Great
day at Austin Comic Con! Back at it tomorrow. And
now to lull me to sleep, here's Michael English &
Wynonna Judd (with YouTube link)." I had a comforted
listen, and went off to sleep.
Back home in Los Angeles,
I checked in with those social media outlets again,
and when I looked at Twitter, I went pale as all the
blood drained from my head. I had a new follower and
a message from @menglish001 ...
... You've got to be kidd- ... WHA- ... Oh. My. Gosh.
OMG! OMG! OMG!!!!! It's Michael Flipping English!!!!!
I didn't even know
he was on Twitter!!! But he had seen my tweet about
his video with Wynonna and answered by saying, "Not
sure if I should take that as a compliment or not."
I chuckled, then quickly
followed him back, and replied by reassuring him that
it was indeed a compliment, and I thanked him for
"making this goofy actor pee down his own leg."
Yes. I was that excited to have made contact with
my musical idol of 19 years.
Thus began some back
& forths on Twitter that turned into private Direct
Messages where he told me he was also a fan of mine.
I think I lost my pulse that day. But you know how
it's been said that actors are fascinated with singers,
and singers are fascinated with actors? No truer words
Our fascination with
each other continued as phone numbers were exchanged,
and we turned into giddy, gabby, texty teenagers.
Imagine that first call, with Michael telling me,
"I can't believe the Silver Surfer loves my music."
And me telling him,
"Well I couldn't have gotten through that shoot
without you," as his CDs sang me through that,
and many other challenging film shoots.
Also imagine me, a
non-book reader, tearing through Michael's autobiography
(THE PRODIGAL COMES HOME - see link below) in only
two days, texting back & forth with its author
all the while - An experience most readers don't get,
We were becoming close
friends at such a surreal pace. Surreal. A word that
keeps coming to mind as I try to wrap my head around
finding such a great friend this way. And the only
word that can describe what came next ...
... January 29, 2011 ... A live concert in the Los
Angeles area only two and a half months after that
first Twitter message. Michael is back with the ever-popular
Gaither Vocal Band, and their Homecoming Tour was
heading out West. He insisted that Mrs. Laurie and
I come as his guests with the "full V.I.P. treatment,"
including a parking space by the tour buses four hours
before showtime so we could hang out, laugh, get to
know each other in person, and have dinner with the
Gaithers and guest artists. Then during showtime,
we sat in the artists section just offstage, getting
an insider's perspective during what is now my favorite
concert I've ever attended. This is what Heaven must
sound like, as I was in tears several times throughout
the show, and laughing until my throat hurt during
all their comedic bits onstage. Michael sang to perfection,
forever keeping his title as my favorite male vocalist
of all time.
Even with this perfect
musical experience with my idol, my favorite part
of this day was completing something that started
on Twitter, of all places. As well as we clicked via
Twitter, texting, e-mails, and phone talk, this in-person
experience clicked even stronger. I felt like I was
meeting someone I'd been seperated from at birth (and
we joked that the doctors cut us apart just my side
of center). We connect with many similarities, celebrate
our few differences, and laugh our way through all
Michael English is
a big-hearted, gentle soul with a wicked sense of
humor whose talents and gifts go far beyond that angelic
voice. Even if he never sang another note, I will
cherish his brotherly friendship from now into eternity.
There are many who can sing, but so few who can truly
communicate. To me, Michael's singing never came from
his perfect vocal chords, but from his beautiful,
intuitive heart that touches the hearts of all who
hear him. I am so proud to hold him as a close friend
with so much more ahead.
And don't let Mrs.
Laurie fool you. She was every bit the giddy school
girl that night. More good news, in the meantime,
is that she and the delightfully brilliant and beautiful
Mrs. Marcie English have become fast, furious friends
over the phone, as well. All four of us get on like
family, and it just feels like slipping into that
familiar, comfortable pair of shoes.
Michael walked us
back out to our car at the end of the night. After
more hugs, head pets and funny noises, Mrs. Laurie
and I drove home in complete silence for an hour and
a half, as this perfect day of love, laughter, music,
and hugs echoed in our ears. I don't even remember
the drive home, because I think we floated.
To those of you who
have read this far, thank you for indulging me in
my giddy state. And for you who have told me that
you were jittery or giggly before meeting me for the
first time, you may consider this story as sweet revenge.
you search "Michael English" on YouTube,
you can stay in there for days, so let me get you
started with this early clip of that signature song
I mentioned, "I Bowed On My Knees And Cried Holy."
This is the kind of live performance that has always
marked him as a God-inspired force of nature.
of Michael English's solo CD's, this link will take
you to the Music page of his official website (just
follow the instructions from here to Amazon). I could
boast about his voice all day, but Dolly Parton put
it best when she said that there are a lot of good
singers out there, but "Michael English has 'that
thing.' " That thing that no one can put their
finger on as goosebumps form and tears well up.
terrific read, his book, THE PRODIGAL COMES HOME
will take you on Michael's very candid personal journey.
I'm not much of a reader, but I rifled through it
in only two days with it's easy flow, compelling drama,
inside scoop, and an outcome that will make you believe
in God's redemption in all of our lives, no matter
what we've been through. This link to his official
site Book page also has an Amazon link for ordering.