For someone known for serious, soulful crooning, Michael Bolton is surprisingly funny.
The singer has sold more than 53 million albums and has dominated the airwaves with hits like “That’s What Love is All About,” “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” and “When a Man Loves a Woman.” In addition he’s not afraid to flex his vocal muscles for a comedic cause.
In 2011 he joined forces with the comedy group Lonely Island (Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Andy Samberg), to create a music video for “Saturday Night Live.” In the video Bolton sings an overly dramatic ballad about the fictional Captain Jack Sparrow, the hero from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies.
The short was well received and has since garnered more than 99 million views on YouTube. Bolton followed that up with a tongue-in-cheek video add for Tidy Cat’s new brand of natural cat litter Pure Nature.
But Bolton has not let his funny bone distract from his music career and on Feb. 26 he’ll release a new album, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – A Tribute to Hitsville U.S.A.”
In January, he also released his autobiography, “The Soul Of It All: My Music My Life.” On Thurs., Feb. 14, Bolton will take the stage at the Ridgefield Playhouse for the theater’s Valentine’s Day Champagne Gala Fundraiser. The festivities — dinner, a raffle and more — kick off at 6:30 p.m. and Bolton is scheduled to perform at 8:30 p.m.
In anticipation of the show, Danbury News-Times writer Erik Ofgang caught up with Bolton, who was born in New Haven and currently lives in Westport. He spoke about his evolution from heavy metal to R&B and explained how he ended up crooning about Jack Sparrow and the Island of Tortuga on national television.
Culture Cache: What is your songwriting process like?
Michael Bolton: That can be hard to describe. It’s an evolutionary process. It can start with a melody, a lyric or even a conversation. I love writing with young artists and up-and-coming producers. They bring so much excitement and energy to the process and I’ve been lucky enough to be in the studio with Ne-Yo and Lady Gaga recently.
CC: You were born in Connecticut and I believe still live in the state, what keeps you here?
MB: I wanted to raise my family away from all the scrutiny of Hollywood and New York. Connecticut is such a beautiful state. It’s very peaceful here.
CC: Early in your career you played in the heavy metal band Blackjack but obviously your solo career has taken a different turn. How did this transition in style come about?
MB: I wasn’t making money with some of that early rock and metal music. But I started to have my songs recorded by other artists. It wasn’t until a label exec told me to stop giving my songs to other people to make famous that I transitioned to the sound that people came to know me by. I’ve always loved R&B music. With this new album “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – A Tribute To Hitsville USA,” I’m paying tribute to the kind of music that I grew up listening to.
CC: What first led to your interest in music?
MB: Well, let’s see . . . I was really bad at everything else. All kidding aside, I was drawn to music and what it could do for your soul. It all just felt natural to me. And I am so grateful that I have had a long career in the business. It’s been very rewarding.
CC: How were you approached to do the “SNL” pirate skit?
MB: I had been introduced to The Lonely Island guys a few years back and we always talked about doing something together. They had sent ideas but the timing never felt right. So when they brought this idea of Jack Sparrow, I couldn’t resist it. It was brilliant and those are some of the hardest working young men in show business. They’re hilarious and brilliant. I was really nervous about it because we really didn’t know how it would fly. It wasn’t until Sunday morning after the show aired that we realized something had really connected with people. It was a blast and one of the most memorable experiences in my career. I’d do it again.