Michael T. Francis grew up in a home where he was surrounded by music and remembers marching around the coffee table to Sousa marches at age four. His mother, an excellent pianist, performed the great classic piano masters’ literature for him and his grandfather played piano and violin in family jams. Uncle Frank was a graduate of North Texas State College and became a popular Dallas area pianist. Michael began his dedicated professional jazz life at age 16, playing Ragtime and traditional jazz piano at Turn of the Century Melodrama Theater in El Paso, Texas. Successfully ignoring his parents' advice to “make sure and get a real job,” he has had a long, rewarding career as a band leader - performing, recording and producing concerts with America’s finest , including Ray Charles, Chick Corea, Count Basie, Houston Person, Hillary Smith, Holly Hofmann and the list goes on... Basically self-taught before earning his Bachelors of Music degree, Michael loves all “good” music and composes and performs in many different styles, including Blues, Gospel, Ragtime, Stride, Swing, Mainstream and World Music. Michael has a rich Latin repertoire, about which he is most passionate. He is a founding member of the Roswell, NM Jazz Festival and has been Artistic Director since it began in 2006. An important component of his festival is jazz education for young students.