Michael Heart (born Annas Allaf, Arabic: أنس علاف) is a Syrian American singer-songwriter, recording artist, guitarist and audio engineer based in Los Angeles, CA. He was born in Syria and raised in Europe (Switzerland and Austria) and the United States.
He started playing piano and guitar at age 10. Shortly thereafter, he began songwriting and eventually progressed towards recording. After earning his audio engineering degree from Full Sail University, he moved to Los Angeles in 1990 and began working on the local studio circuit as a session guitarist and a recording engineer.
In 2008, he independently released his debut solo album "Unsolicited Material". The album is a collection of Pop/Rock songs with lyrical content covering such topics as adultery ("Living In Sin"), war ("Damaged World"), domestic violence ("Finally Free") and the challenges of making a living ("Life Goes On").
He has worked with such artists as Brandy, Will Smith, Toto, Natalie Cole, The Temptations, Phil Collins, Patty LaBelle, The Pointer Sisters, Earth Wind & Fire, Ricky Lee Jones, Lou Rawls, Jesse McCartney, Hilary Duff, Jessica Simpson, Jennifer Paige, Al Jarreau, K-Ci & JoJo, Deborah Cox, Monica, Taylor Dayne, Keiko Matsui, Steve Nieves, Luis Miguel and Tarkan ... he also worked in the studio with French artists like Calogero (The Charts), Marc Lavoine and Véronique Sanson. Other projects also included work with producers Rodney Jerkins, Philippe Saisse and David Foster. ... most of Michael's work has been in the recording studio, he has also done some touring (notably back in the early 90's, when he toured as a Flamenco guitarist in a guitar trio with Juan Manuel Canizares, opening for Dire Straits) ... also recorded and toured with the smooth jazz band Jango. On most of these recording credits, Michael is credited with his real name as "Annas Allaf".
Activism and charity:
Song for Gaza:
In January 2009, he composed and released a song in support of the Palestinian civilian victims of the Israeli war in Gaza. The song is called "We Will Not Go Down (Song For Gaza)" and gained popularity on sites like YouTube.The official YouTube video of the song was viewed over 1 million times within a month of its release; the recording of the song was broadcast on radio and television in many countries along with blogs and websites worldwide and it was chanted in many demonstrations in cities ranging from Sydney, Australia to London, England. The Palestine Argentine Delegation Embassy website also put the song with lyrics on its page.
Heart initially made the mp3 of the song freely downloadable from his official website, which he reports has been downloaded over 500,000 times, encouraging the listeners to make a donation to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). After incessant emails from people asking why the song hadn't been made available on iTunes, he finally uploaded it to the Apple music site in July 2010.
Though musically praised around the world, the song received some political criticism from the Israeli camp.
In January 2010, Heart co-wrote a song with British songwriter Mark Holding, in support of the victims of the Haiti earthquake. The song is titled Help is on the Way (Song for Haiti) and once again, the YouTube video encouraged viewers to make donations to the victims of the quake.