Kerry Michael Warren
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Kerry Michael Warren

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Music

The best kept secret in music

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Discography

Mighty Days - LP (October 2004)

1. Mighty Days
2. Little Runaway
3. Falling Down
4. Paradise
5. Fool
6. Cry Run Fly
7. Love is Here
8. I Gotta Let You Know
9. All Over You
10. Cobalt Blue
11. Fantasy
12. Love is on the Way
13. Till Every Dream Comes True
14. Tempted

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Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Kerry Michael Warren’s powerful debut, Mighty Days, is like an aural diary you revel in hearing, the emotions and stories spilling out in song like so many secrets. Mighty Days is a baker’s dozen of original tunes that range from haunting to soaring to bluesy to melancholy to vibrant. And Warren, whose potent trained tenor ties the dynamic CD together, has experienced and survived things most people only read about, pouring all his emotions, experience and humor into Mighty Days.

Warren, who has lived in San Diego most of his life, working in theatre, piano bars and as a singing teacher, explains the genesis of Mighty Days: “It started out with a bit of that singer-songwriter ‘slit your wrists’ seriousness. Then I had an epiphany: I'm not that precious! I didn’t want to perform Christmas suicide music my whole life. That's not who I am. Sex and food—maybe at the same time—and laughing, those are my favorite things. It shifted the whole album for me.” Warren’s writing and delivery is cathartic, full of the passion and pain of a hard-lived life, coupled with a beauty and light that can only be gleaned by seeing the ugliness.

And Warren has seen the darker side. The product of a single, alcoholic mom, Warren was almost an orphan when his mother got terminal throat cancer before he was even a teen. “I was farmed out to family friends, and then I got mad at my mom and said, 'you can't die!" She had surgery, couldn't talk for a year, but didn't die!” relates Warren, who, by that age, was already an accomplished singer, pianist and guitarist, and had written his first song, “Sunshine Blues” at the age of 9. Despite being a loving parent and driving Michael to theatre auditions—which he would always nail, thanks to a beautiful vibrato and dramatic charisma—his mother’s drinking problem escalated, and at 14, Warren ran away from home. “I became a homeless teenager,” he relates. “I was very good at not letting anybody know. I would sometimes sleep on the floor of a room my mom's friend was renting near downtown San Diego. It was a house owned by a huge black guy. He was running this place as a whorehouse, and his claim to fame was that he sold pot to the Beatles. There were nights I slept in the park. Or I'd stay up all night with friends at Denny's and sleep in the park during the day, which was safer.”

Warren’s irrepressible spirit was never dampened. “I had a fantasy that I was going to be a star,” he laughs, “but survival was paramount.” Fortunately his talent and stature helped him survive. “I was singing in a piano bar at 15, and I was already 6 feet tall, so I was able to get my own apartment at that age as well. At the bar I got free drinks and tips and was playing Elton John and Billy Joel; I love singer-songwriters, music that moves me, that's emotionally dynamic. Plus, I love the whole sardonic caustic wit thing.” As a homeless teen, Warren was without many of the usual growing-up landmarks of MTV and concerts. “I was always in my own little musical universe,” he admits. “I bought 45s at garage sales. My first album was Meet the Beatles, and it was old by then, but new to me. I love Joni Mitchell’s Blue, Carole King's Tapestry... and I had an older friend who introduced me to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. All my friends have been older, weird eclectic artists, so I grew up playing and loving Cole Porter and Billie Holiday.”

Songs on Mighty Days reflect his hardscrabble life, innate talent and myriad influences. Along with the moody, retro-feeling “Cobalt Blue,” the commercial yet left-of-center “Little Runaway” is one of Warren’s personal favorites. “Kids having trouble at home think they’re really big and tough, and they have no fucking clue how tough it is out there,” says the voice of experience. “I thought I was immortal, and by the time I finally got my own apartment at 15, most of the kids I knew were dead or in prison. Nobody survives my childhood. To me, it seemed kinda fun to be homeless…But of course, I did it in a much more innocent time.”

While many songs reflect Warren’s life experience, he also points out that his compositions, which are akin to “three-minute movies,” are much more universal than first-person: “I don’t paint with that kind of palette; it’s pretty broad, and a little more impressionistic than realistic,” he explains of his writing approach. “I’m a person of big feelings, and I try to express them.”

Surviving solo as a teenager gave Warren a maturity beyond his years, with a rare compassion, drive and humor to go with it. So it was only natural that, as a young adult, Warren would get involved in helping the homeless community he was once part of. He founded and became the volunteer director of the "Curbside Players," a homeless choir 27 people strong based out of San Diego’s Friend-to-Friend clubhouse. Warren also sang lead on the song "Eye of the Storm" which was released internationally through MCA on a CD titled Voice of the Homeless. Without a backg