Michael was born near Detroit, Michigan. He studied piano and sang in choirs from an early age and fell in love with opera at the age of 12, but it wasn't until he reached high school that he started singing. He attended a magnet school for the performing arts, studying voice and theatre, until 2005, when he graduated, and studied voice at Western Michigan University. Whilst at Western, Michael developed a keen love for choral music as well. Although his studies at Western took him to Italy and England, it wasn't until his final year that he discovered musicology, and before graduating in 2009, decided to write his honors thesis on Verdi's Otello.
In 2012, he completed his Master's degree in Musicology at King's College London, with a dissertation on the representation of male madness in early Verdi, for which he received first class honors. He plans to undertake a Ph.D. in the near future. His research interests are wide-ranging, but he especially enjoys Italian and French opera, Foucault, and critical theory.