Mike Stevens is an award winning musician, composer and author living in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. He is the Founder of Artscan Circle a non profit organization that builds relationships with Northern Communities across Canada and Alaska using the arts as a tool for self expression and joy.
Mike has a powerful message and is a sought after performer, speaker, composer and educator. His book Bluegrass Harmonica has been distributed worldwide and provides instruction about his groundbreaking style of Harmonica playing. He facilitates workshops for groups, corporations, and youth nationally and internationally. He also likes salt and vinegar chips, way too much.
Mike Stevens created a place for the harmonica in Bluegrass with his explosive and expressive playing. In 1988 while appearing at a Bluegrass festival in Georgia, Mike met Bluegrass legends Jim and Jesse and the Virginia Boys. When they heard Mike they invited him to play their show. After that performance Jim and Jesse told MIke he needed to perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Mike has now performed more than 300 times on the Grand Ole Opry stage and can count Roy Acuff -The king of Country Music – as one of his biggest fans.
Mike toured the world as a feature performer with Jim and Jesse for close to 15 years playing all the major Bluegrass festivals solidifying Mike’s position as the pioneer of Bluegrass harmonica. In 1991 Mike’s recording “Blowin up a Storm” was the highest selling release on Pinecastle Records. In 1994 Mike was named a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of Kentucky for his contributions to Bluegrass music.
Mike signed with Borealis Recording Company in 2001. “Old Time Mojo” and the groundbreaking Canadian Fiddle Tune recording “The World is Only Air” were released on the Borealis label.
In 1999 Mike visited a Northern community in Canada that changed his life. Since that impactful visit, Mike has worked to bring arts and music to Indigenous youth. He founded non-profit ArtsCan Circle in 2002. ArtsCan builds relationships with Northern Communities across Canada and Alaska using the arts as a tool for self expression and joy.
Mike has been the subject of 2 Feature Film Documentaries:
- The award winning Harmonica Crossing (2000) about Mike’s career at the World Famous Grand Ole Opry
- The recently released A Walk in My Dream (2011) produced by Jonathan Torrens about his work with ArtsCan Circle
Mike’s collaborative highlights include:
- Avante Garde multimedia performances with world famous Magnum photographer Larry Towell
- Duo performance’s with Legendary Bluegrass musician Raymond McLain
- Acoustic Blues shows and award winning recordings with Blues star Matt Andersen
- Composing & Performing with the Atlantic Ballet
- Recording and performing with West African Master musician and dancer Okaidja Afroso
Awards & Accreditations
- Meritorious Service Medal – Government of Canada Medal
- Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal – Government of Canada Medal
- YMCA Canada Peace Medal- Canadian Medal
- Honorary Kentucky Colonel -the State of Kentucky
- Slaight Music Humanitarian Award – Canadian Country Music Association
- Innovator of the year Award (first ever)- Canadian Folk Music Awards
- Estelle Klein Award – Folk Music Ontario
- Award of Excellence – Ontario Contact
- Peter Gzowski Award – PGI Canada National Literacy
- Recording of the Year – Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards
- Top selling record Blowing up a Storm – Pinecastle records
- 1990-1994 Entertainer of the Year – Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards (retired from the category)
Mike Stevens has taken to the stage around the World, from the Grand Ole Opry to his TED Talks. His musical abilities are as inspiring as his public speaking. To be in a room with Mike is an experience that can be felt in the heart.
As a musician Mike provides session work and is available to help make magic on your projects, private lessons and and public performances.
As the founder of non-profit ArtsCan Circle and a committed activist Mike is available for speaking engagements, educational talks and special events related to ArtsCan Circle.
A chance encounter with at-risk youth in Northern Labrador altered the course of harmonica virtuoso Mike Stevens’ professional path and leads to an epiphany of why he plays music in the first place.
ArtsCan Circle, founded in 2002, was inspired by this work. ArtsCan Circle is a registered charity dedicated to linking creative artists with indigenous youth in northern indigenous communities.
ArtsCan Circle now sends teams of indigenous and non-indigenous musicians and artists to engage children and youth in northern indigenous communities in creative art workshops. Our mission is to teach new skills, promote self-esteem and creative self-expression. ArtsCan Circle visits the communities of Pikangikum, Fort Albany, Attawapiskat and Gjoa Haven. In the past, ArtsCan Circle has held workshops at Sheshatshiu, Misheegogamang, Wabaseemong, Eabametoong and Kugluktuk.
ArtsCan Circle https://artscancircle.ca/
Donate to ArtsCan Circle https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/3580
- Solo Concerts and Residencies
- Select performances with Bluegrass Legend Raymond McLain
- CanadAfrica – Blues Roots meets World music in the explosive music of CanadAfrica Mike Stevens and Okaidja Afroso – A combination of traditional dance, songs and music into a remarkable Original show – Now touring in support of the Borealis record release of Where’s The One?
- Select Performances with The Atlantic Ballet of Canada
- Multimedia performances with Magnum Photojournalist Larry Towell
Mike has written music in many genres:
- PiggyBack and Push Record – 2 CD’s of original music co-written and released with Roots music phenom Matt Andersen
- Many Bluegrass music originals written and recorded
- Soundscape and Film soundtrack work on A Walk in My Dream
- Composed and performed music for The Atlantic Ballet Of Canada
- Diving rock music and live looping on the CD Normally Anomally
- Experimental Multimedia soundscape music for Larry Towell – Recently performed at World Press Photo in Amsterdam
Mike has been the Keynote Speaker and guest lecturer at many events such as:
- The Canadian Music Therapy Conference
- Ontario Conference of Folk Festivals
- Dalhousie Medical School
- TED talk presentation and many more
Workshops & Residencies
From Ground Breaking Harmonica technique to Songwriting and Live looping and combined with Mike’s extensive experience with “At Risk” youth, Mike creates an engaging environment for many types of workshops, residencies and team-building exercises.