If you made a list of performers who have sold more than 53 million records, won multiple Grammy trophies for Best Male Vocalist and countless other honors, earned a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame and sold out arenas worldwide, Michael Bolton would be on that list.
But if you tallied all the artists who've sung with Luciano Pavarotti and Ray Charles, written songs with Bob Dylan, penned hits for Barbra Streisand and KISS, played guitar with B.B. King and been sampled on a track by hip-hop superstar Kanye West (featuring megastar Jay-Z), Michael Bolton would be the only name on that list.
Part of what he's earned has been the opportunity to share stages with the likes of Charles, his all-time favorite singer (and singing "Georgia on My Mind" to him when Charles was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame), Patti LaBelle, Sledge, King and other greats, to sing at the Apollo and at the Ebony Awards, and to be the only white artist asked to perform at Motown's 35th Anniversary gala. "It twists your head around, to be invited to participate in this way," he says.
Bolton's sense of connection to the African-American community goes back to his Russian-Jewish father's experience as a survivor of intolerance and extends beyond his music. Through the Michael Bolton Charities organization, which he founded in 1993, he created a United Negro College Fund scholarship, as well as a music class for the Harlem Boys and Girls Choir, who joined him in singing Bill Withers' classic "Lean on Me" during a post-9/11 tribute to firefighters and police at Yankee Stadium.
Bolton's achievements as a songwriter may surprise those who are only acquainted with his singing career. In addition to hits for Streisand, KISS and Cher, he's written songs for Joe Cocker, Marc Anthony, Kenny G., Peabo Bryson, Greg Allman, Wynonna Judd and many others; over the years, he has earned multiple honors in this field, including BMI's Songwriter of the Year, Song of the Year and Million-Air awards, ASCAP's Writer and Publisher Awards and a Hitmaker Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame.