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Born in Seattle, Washington in 1961, the deep-toned R&B vocalist Michael Wansley has performed under the name TeeWanz, but is more commonly known simply as Wanz due to his 2012 appearance on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' international hit single "Thrift Shop." That particular piece of humor-spiced hip-hop -- from the album The Heist -- hit the number one spot in no fewer than nine countries and its video went on to clock up over 340 million YouTube views. After four decades of writing, recording, and performing anything from jazz, funk, gospel, and opera with only minor success, one late-night call from veteran producer D-Sane and a hastily arranged hour in his studio, led to this overwhelming level of worldwide exposure.
Wansley's early career saw him graduate from being a school choir regular to seven full years studying jazz at Central Washington University. Following stints singing covers in Boys Will Be Boys and playing bass in a funk outfit called Life Ring, he was asked to front the local, harder-rocking Ghetto Monks in the mid-'90s.
This led to the release of two well-received albums: 1997's High Steppin' and 2000's Pop Vulture.
Although he continued to make music as a hobby for the next decade, Wansley's primary source of income during this time came from his job as a software test engineer.
The release of "Thrift Shop" in 2012 was a catalyst for prime-time U.S. TV appearances and a tour of Australia, which helped persuade him to leave his day job. By 2013, the first fruits of a solo career had appeared with the release of the fluid, laid-back R&B single "Tell Me One More Time." ~ James Wilkinson
- Seattle, WA