Skip to main content
Marissa Cetin
30 January 2024, 12:01

Michael Watford, legendary house music singer, dies

The prolific gospel-trained vocalist worked with the likes of Masters At Work, Kerri Chandler and En Vogue, and was part of the early Jersey house scene

Michael Watford, legendary house music singer, dies

Legendary house vocalist Michael Watford has died. 

The American singer's son Solomon Watford announced the news on Sunday, 28th January, via Facebook, confirming the date of his passing on Friday, 26th January. "We want to thank everyone and including the house music community who has contacted me and my family during this difficult time", Solomon Watford wrote.

Michael Watford's cause of death was not disclosed, though it appears he had been dealing with health issues. In December 2023, New York DJ Lenny Fontana posted on Instagram that Watford was in hospice care. He wrote at the time: "Send all the prayers to this man... he is one of our soldiers in house music and a huge legend in the Jersey house sound!"

A GoFundMe campaign has been set up to help Watford's family cover funeral costs as he did not have life insurance. "Can we give the love back?", organiser Walter Neal wrote. "The music industry is a tough business and we all don’t finish wealthy and famous. Most artists need help". 

Michael Watford was trained as a gospel singer in his youth, growing up in Virginia and New Jersey. That training remained key to his music as he began releasing house records in the early 1990s, his first being the 'Holdin' On' single, with Roger Sanchez and Eddie Perez, for the Jersey house Smack collective. Watford earned a No. 1 single on the Billboard dance charts in 1994 with 'So Into You', from his first and only solo LP

The prolific singer contributed vocals to records by Barbara Tucker, Kerri Chandler, En Vogue, Masters At Work, Robert Owens, Jamie Lewis and more. His music has been a staple of house mixes and compilations since the '90s, appearing in hundreds of releases by the likes of Todd Terry, Tony Humphries, Pete Tong, Defected founder Simon Dunmore, Paul "Trouble" Anderson, Roger Sanchez, as well as Masters At Work and "Little" Louie Vega solo. Watford's last release was the 2018 single 'Hey Everybody' with Stefano Sorge. He also recorded as BMW and was part of Sanchez's Brotherhood of Soul with Colonel Abrams and Jay Williams. 

Listen to 'So Into You' and read tributes to Watford from his family, friends, colleagues and peers.