Musician Annotti finds his moment in the sun

Michael Annotti

Unlike most professional musicians, Michael Annotti didn’t grow up singing or playing instruments. In fact, the Hollister native didn’t have any semblance of a music background when a bit of serendipity came his way while he was studying at Santa Barbara City College in the early-1990s.
While watching a concert at a park, Annotti met Leon Burke, who was a band leader and loaned Annotti a CD.
“When I gave the CD back to him, he asked me which songs I liked,” said Annotti, who will perform the national anthem on Oct. 23 at Levi’s Stadium before the start of the Niners-Buccaneers game. “I sang him a little piece and he said, ‘Mike, you might be able to sing (and have a future in it).’ That sparked a light bulb.”
Did it ever. At 21, Annotti started recording music the primitive way: by playing tracks on a boombox. He landed his first break in 1997 while watching a performance from Rock Steady Posse, an original reggae, ska, hip-hop and funk band.
Mesmerized by the band’s performance, Annotti asked one of the band members if he could jump on stage and perform with them. Wanting to make sure he would get the chance to do just that, Annotti went to the lead singer, Eric Cotton, and asked him if he could play on stage.
“He looked at me and said, ‘You better be dope,’” Annotti said. “I got a little nervous, but I knew I wanted to do this. I kind of laughed and said to myself, ‘Oh God, here it goes.’ Sure enough, it went really well, and I freestyled in the middle of a song. The crowd really liked it, and Eric gave me his card later.”
Annotti ended up joining the band in late 1997 as a backup singer before branching off on his own in 2000.
“That was my first taste of what the job would be like,” he said. “I played at places in San Francisco and Sacramento, and got thrown right into the fire. These guys were way better than me, and that was the way to learn because working with advanced people forces you to keep up. Experiences like that molded and prepared me for this moment to do the national anthem at Levi’s Stadium.”
Oct. 23 will be a milestone moment for Annotti, who has earned awards and earned solid reviews for some of his work, including the single Time Keeps on Tickin, which reached No. 62 on the national radio airplay charts and No. 4 on the Indie charts for nine consecutive weeks in the summer of 2013.
Even though Annotti has been recognized from those within the music industry—he’s a Los Angeles Music Awards winner—the chance to sing the national anthem before a Niners game will give him increased exposure, with the potential that he’ll receive greater opportunities in other outlets to showcase his talent.
It’s the highlight of a career that has been marked by hard work, perseverance and a love for all things music.
“I would definitely say of all the things I’ve done in music, this outranks everything,” said Annotti, whose music has been described as a combination of roots, reggae, rock, jazz and soul. “I’m just blown away and honored for this opportunity. This blessing is beyond my imagination.”
Annotti hopes he can do for others what music has done for him: be the means for healing. Before embarking on his music career, Annotti was planning on attending UC Santa Barbara to focus on child psychology. Turns out Annotti has been able to use his musical talents to help people in pain.
“I’ve always wanted to help kids who are having trouble,” he said. “I feel more people will get help because I have this stage and platform. That’s why I do music—to create more love in this world and create a positive impact. Music changed my life.”
In addition to performing the national anthem, Annotti has several other events lined up in the coming months. In November, he’ll be featured in an episode of “The Faithful,” a documentary series by 49ers studios that takes viewers into the lives of the team and fans (the series airs on Comcast Sports Net).
Annotti was at Levi’s Stadium last month to do part of the taping for the episode. Annotti was proactive in the process, contacting the executive producer of the show after watching one of the episodes for the first time. After a series of exchanges, the Niners chose to feature Annotti on one of the “The Faithful” shows.
On Nov. 19, Annotti will headline a concert to help raise money for the Emmaus House. He also was scheduled to perform last Saturday in the One Family Benefit Concert in Paso Robles, proceeds of which went to the One Family Foundation.
Annotti works with and supports other organizations that give to the needy, including Dorothy’s Place, the Community Food Bank of San Benito County and Music 4 Meals. Annotti’s experience talking with the homeless and the example his mom, Joanna Avalli, set have inspired him to help the less fortunate.
“I developed a heart for them by playing on the streets and just being able to know some of them and their stories,” he said. “And my mother was a very generous person. She gave me the example growing up to always treat everyone like family.”
Annotti also attributed his Christian faith as the reason to love others and believing that every situation has a purpose.
“Faith can move mountains and everything is possible,” he said. “I pray that my music can move the hearts of people.”
In 2003, Annotti played his songs on the streets of various cities throughout the country, making friends and contacts along the way. Annotti didn’t get paid for any it, but the experience proved invaluable.
Every experience has paved the way for Annotti to get his moment in the spotlight. On Oct. 23, in front of approximately 70,000 people, he’ll be playing acoustic guitar and singing the national anthem while being accompanied by one of his best friends, band mate Blaise DiGirolamo.
Since beginning his music career, Annotti has relied on music whenever he’s faced hard times. It served as his psychologist, a place where he could get away from whatever pain he was enduring.
“Music gives me peace and comfort to this day,” he said. “I can always rely on music—it’s been my best friend and is always there for me.”

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