Michael Wimberly was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio during the civil rights era, surrounded by the toxic fumes of steel mills and buoyed by a sea of blue-collar workers. This is where Wimberly’s early beginnings in soul, funk, rock, jazz, and classical music began. Beating rhythms on the hoods of cars and boxes while dancing to the pulsating music of James Brown, Sly Stone, Funkadelic, and Aretha Franklin…the spirit of revolution was in the air.
It was during Wimberly’s undergraduate years at Baldwin Wallace University that the rhythms from the streets connected him to the rhythms of West Africa and 20th century contemporary music. During his graduate years at Manhattan School of Music, Wimberly broadened his musical palette studying electronic and improvised music. Music of the African Diaspora and improvisation has become key components of Wimberly’s musical excavations and explorations. These explorations connected him with master musicians from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, South America and Europe. He’s performed with funk legends George Clinton and the Parliament Funkedelic; The Boys Choir of Harlem; Paul Winter Consort; rock icons: Vernon Reid, Henry Rollins, and Blondie; R&B royalty: Dionne Warwick, Valerie Simpson, D'Angelo, Angie Stone and Alyson Williams. Wimberly has been a featured artist with Berlin’s Rundfunk Symphony, Vienna’s Tonkuntsler Symphony, Leipzig Symphony, and International Region Symphony Orchestra performing compositions of Daniel Schnyder, as well as his own orchestral compositions performed by Yakima Symphony Orchestra, and Sage City Symphony of Vermont.
As a composer and sound designer, Wimberly’s compositions have been performed by dance companies Urban Bush Women, Joffrey Ballet II, Alvin Ailey, Ailey II, Philadanco, Forces of Nature Dance Theatre, Joan Millers Dance Players, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Ballet Noir, Alpha Omega, Purelements, and The National Song and Dance Company of Mozambique. Film scores include As An Act of Protest by Dennis Leroy Moore, and Atlantic City Lights by Brent Owens for HBO. Sound design for theatre includes Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream for the Classical Theatre of Harlem, Saint Lucy’s Eyes by Bridgette Wimberly for the Women’s Project & Cherry Lane Theatre, and Iced Out, Shackled and Chained for the National Black Theatre for which Wimberly received two Audelco nominations.
Wimberly’s percussion instruction book/DVD “Getting Started on Djembe” and “Getting Started on Cajon” have received outstanding reviews and is available from Hudson Music/Hal Leonard publications. His latest album, “Afrofuturism” on the Temple Mountain Record label (TMR) distributed on Warner Music Group/Level, can be accessed on all major streaming sources. Wimberly joined the Bennington faculty in Fall 2012.