Michael D. O'Brien
Michael O'Brien, nationally known singer and songwriter of contemporary Christian music, has been associated with some of the best known performers in that genre for over two decades. A former Heritage Singers member, he became a solo artist in 1995 with Benson Records and then joined the Christian band Newsong as their lead singer. He returned to a solo career in 2006 in order to spend more time at home.
While a part of the CCM scene, he has also been widely praised for his gifts as a songwriter of popular music in the classic vein and eloquence as a singer of his own music. Legendary Hugh Martin, composer of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," referred to him as "one of God's most gifted singing angels."
Michael's childhood and teenage years were troubling ones. Although a physically commanding person with obvious talents, by the time he was in college he had adopted a lifestyle that included sexually immoral behavior and drugs, one that alternated between euphoria and despair. After making a commitment to Christ and abandoning his earlier habits, he joined the Heritage Singers, where he met and then married his wife, Heidi, also a singer in the group.
They continued to sing with HS and eventually moved to Southern California, where they lived briefly before settling in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1991. While there, he wrote music, signed a recording contract, and recorded three solo CDs. Following the release of his CDs, he joined NewSong, where he was the lead singer for the next seven years.
By the end of his time with Newsong, the O'Briens had three children. The stress of being mother to three and pregnant with a fourth along with the long separations from Michael, who was on the road with the group for extended periods of time, became too much for Heidi.
At this point she was diagnosed with bipolar manic-depression and, following the birth of their fourth child, was admitted into a psychiatric ward for evaluation. At the same time, she begin to rethink self-imposed expectations and gained new insights about the unconditional love of Christ, which helped her deal more evenly and constructively with the challenges in her life.
During this time Michael also began to face and deal with behavioral issues remaining from his earlier years, sharing more fully with Heidi the challenges he had faced earlier in his life and was still seeking to resolve. The struggles they now shared led them both to regain a spiritual experience that had waned and restore a marriage that had almost failed during the travails they had weathered.
A 2007 CD by Michael, Something About Us, features songs written by him about their journey and new-found experience in love and the Christian experience. The CD has been widely praised, being described by author and speaker David Nassar as "modern day sonnets," and "a reminder that passion and romance are God-given gifts."
Sources: Michael O'Brien; Jeff Trubey, "Making Waves," Adventist Review, 17 July 1997, 1. Online Sources.
Michael O'Brien††† 1997
Ití About Time††† 2001
Something About Us††† 2007
Be Still My Soul††† 2010
Fugue #52 and Other Original Pieces††† 2012