The Ultimate Dance Party with Michael Williams at the Duke Live

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Submitted by Sandy Graham

Michael Williams is a Canadian television personality who may be best known for his work as a VJ at MuchMusic from 1984 to 1993. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Williams moved to Montreal in the 1970s to attend the Communications Arts School at Loyola (now Concordia University). While attending the school, he started a DJ service in the receptive musical city of Montreal and started
Williams was part of MuchMusic's core opening team of VJ's alongside J. D. Roberts, Erica Ehm, and Christopher Ward. Williams hosted various shows including Soul in the City, RapCity, Electric Circus, Pepsi Power Hour and The NewMusic. To this day people stop Michael in the street and ask for his autograph, or tell him what an influence he had on them during this Much days. Some thank him for being an inspiration to them.

We caught up with Michael at his home in Oakville, Ontario and got some insight into what drives this man – it is the music. He is like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to tunes, Motown, Country, R&B and the British Invasion era as well as the 80’s music he got to play in his days at MuchMusic.
When asked who influenced him the most growing up when it came to music, his answer was immediate. “My Mother, absolutely she sang around the house, and she had a set of the Time-Life series, ‘The Greatest Music of All Times’, which was everything from John Henry to Mozart, Beethoven, Stravinsky to all kinds of music. We had that series that we played constantly. The next influence would be have been the radio, we had a transistor radio that was our main source of entertainment in our little apartment on 123rd Street in Cleveland, Ohio.  Then I would say school; I had a teacher by the name of Miss Kilpatrick who just was absolutely wonderful. The Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, who were on the same level as Leonard Bernstein who I saw when I was in Kindergarten. Then, of course, my Uncles, Uncle Norris and Uncle Amos, who were musicians and weekend warrior players. I know all the songs of the Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones to name a few.”

Michael WilliamsMichael Williams“The beginning of my record collection was when I joined Columbia Record House and I was one of those kids who believed I would get 12 records for 99 cents and my Mom got a bill for $60.”
Who was the most memorable artist you interviewed? “Robert Plant, Quincy Jones, Robert Palmer, but they were all memorable.”

Soul in the City was a signature logo that is always associated with Michael Williams. “It actually started in Montreal at CKGM.  I was working at CHOM-FM, and Rob Braide came to me and asked if I could do a few hours to fill a time slot on our sister station. We had no windows in the studio and had to watch the City through a camera and somehow that name came to me. That slogan has followed me throughout my career.”

“When I came to MuchMusic I didn’t want to be the token black guy playing the black videos. That was too easy and not interesting enough for me to do. I didn’t want to be the black guy on TV, I wanted to be the best guy on TV. Eventually four or five years into Much, we started to do Soul on the City as a program. It was one of the most successful shows in the history of MuchMusic, being syndicated in over 21 countries. When I got off the plane in Paris, years after I left MuchMusic, I was signing autographs, on the plane when I got off the plane, on the streets of Paris. I had no idea it had been syndicated in 21 countries. I found out after that that my fan base included legendary artists like Prince, Quincy Jones, Tina Turner, David Foster, Smokey Robinson; they all watched the show, no matter where they were in Europe, they saw the show.”

“I have always dj’d, ever since I was in Juinor High School. I dj’d before there were mixers. The old Bell & Howell 3M turntables and had microphones in front of them. I never really stopped. Doing my radio shows was like dj’ing – I got to pick my music and do my show.”

“Dancing is really important for your health. Dj’ing is easy, you just play one great song after another.”

“At the Duke Live I am going to be there on Friday night, June 22, and I am going to be playing a lot of great music, Motown, a lot of R&B, 80’s, some 60’s stuff. I am really looking forward to playing the hits, showing some videos from the past and playing someone hit wonders.”

“Bring out your dancing shoes, you should bring two pairs because you’ll wear out the first!”

The Ultimate Dance Party with Michael Williams Soul in the City
The Duke Live
1225 Queen Street East
Friday, June 15, 2018
9 pm $10 cover
Reservations Recommended Call 416 463 5302