Michael Leonard Witham grabbed some blog and music editorial headlines in late 2014 with his debut album release, A Scandal In The Violets. The independent record, comprised of ten tracks of raw folk and Americana songs, received overwhelmingly positive critical acclaim from outlets such as No Depression, and The Big Takeover Magazine, the latter comparing the Little Rock based songwriter favorably to John Prine and Bob Dylan.
The origin of Witham's first steps in to a career in music was rather interesting. A few short years prior to his debut release, Witham, at the time unemployed, found a beaten up, acoustic guitar, sans strings in a strip mall in Shreveport, Louisiana. He learned to play the instrument by watching YouTube tutorials, and in a few short years, recorded an album. This "no budget," and "no plan" (according to Witham) album got some attention, and gave the new artist confidence to move forward and pursue a career in music despite very little knowledge of the business aspects of the music industry.
"Everything has been a baptism by fire." Says Witham. "I didn't exactly look before I leaped. I leaped and I've been swerving and doing all kinds of falling in holes and climbing out and hopefully learning. It's crazy. Maybe that's just the music business in general, but man I really had no idea until I was neck deep in it."
The baptism by fire hasn't deterred Witham, as he has continued writing songs and playing shows and has amped up his touring schedule considerably since the early days. His official follow up album (He released a live EP in 2016) is due out in 2019, and Witham says his sound has evolved a bit from the raw, rubble folk of A Scandal In The Violets.
"Well I've always been a fan of classic country music from decades past and I love modern Americana when it's done right. The new record is going to have even more of those elements like steel guitar and even some fiddle, and of course a compelling story...That's what makes a song to me."
Perhaps that is what sets Witham apart from the hordes of Dylan and Prine copycats and what compelled many music editorials to deem him, "the real deal." His ability to tell a story and paint a picture that we can all relate to, despite never knowing these characters prior to hearing the songs. It's what made Townes Van Zandt a legend, albeit posthumously. Here's hoping this storyteller finds his audience while he's still alive and kicking. He seems to be well on his way.