With a stage presence to match and thousands of live performances under his belt, Michelson’s ability to connect with his fans is earning him a prominent spot in country music’s landscape. “I’m an entertainer, it’s who I am. I’m not there for you to clap for me -I’m there to put on a show and engage with you.”The Portland, Oregan native grew up in a musically inspired family -his stepfather was a high school theater director, and his stepbrother a musician. Watching as his stepbrother secured a record deal in Nashville and kicked off a successful career in Christian music opened Michelson’s eyes to the potential for a career in music . “Seeing my brother do what he did made music seem possible. I remember thinking, ‘Man, that’s what I want to do. If I can do that, I want to do that.’”
Michelson picked up a guitar for the first time at age 10, and almost immediately began writing songs, learning a few chords at a time. In high school, he hit the road selling merchandise for his brother on tour. “My brother would get me up to sing at his shows. It was such a rush -entertaining just came naturally to me.” When home, he continued writing and performing in church, improving as a musician and band leader. Upon graduating high school, his brother moved back west to start band Root Down -and employed Michelson as a lead singer and bass player. Though a west coast tour schedule and opportunities to showcase for labels proved invaluable, it was a show at Nashville’s famous 3rd and Lindsley that altered Michelson’s course. “Dan Huff saw the set and approached me afterwards. He told me he didn’t love the music, but loved watching me and encouraged me not to give up.
Coming from him, that was a game changer.” When Root Down disbanded, Jackson knew he needed to go solo. “I knew I needed to go for it -and I knew I was going to work harder than anyone else.”Michelson began booking shows regionally, writing and recording -using all the money he and his wife had to record his debut solo project. “We’d saved up enough money to record at the studio Willie Nelson recorded his first album in. I was playing a few hundred shows a year, married with a young kid at the time, trying to make ends meet. There was no plan B.” His efforts paid off -the project distributed over 20,000 copies independently, and built Michelson a solid fanbase in the country genre. “I would sign and meet with people after every show -it didn’t matter if I was playing to eight in a smokey bar, or 10,000 opening for Lee Brice. Fans would say, ‘I really like your style of country music…’ I’d set out to record a great record, regardless of genre.”
After a chance meeting with Nashville-based booking agent Todd Thomas, Michelson added monthly trips to Music City to the mix, writing twice daily, five days at a time. “I knew I needed to give my writing the same attention I’d given the road for the past several years.”His major turning point, though, came with the help of fellow country acts Brice, Cole Swindell and Frankie Ballard. “I was doing a run of shows with the three of them down the west coast, and I’d just released my single ‘The Good Life.’ The three of them made a video for the program director of SiriusXM’s The Highway, asking him to give me and my music a shot… and he did.” The national success from the exposure on The Highway’s On the Rise program lead to interest from several labels, including Curb Records. “Tim McGraw was a favorite of mine growing up, and he was signed to Curb. I knew it was my place.” Shortly after label owner Mike Curb flew out to one of Michelson’s shows, the artist made his dream partnership official.Michelson’s spent the better part of the past few years preparing new music. “I started working with Curb for publishing, and wrote over 100 songs last year so I’d have plenty to pick from.” Collaborating with Justin Ebach, Jeff Pardo and Jim Ed Norman for production, his new music is a testament to his hard work, continued dedication to fans and spot as one of country music’s most anticipated up-and-comers. “There’s nothing like the fan connection that comes with a great song and live performance. I have to do this for the rest of my life.”