Millions of people are listening to Peter Himmelman. He has been scoring original music for CBSs Judging Amy since its premiere in 1999. Described by Stereo Review as being "in the upper echelon of contemporary singer-songwriters," Himmelman has attracted his share of critical acclaim for this CBS drama. In 2000, he received an ASCAP award in the category of Top TV Series and was recently honored with a 2002 Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Music and Lyrics.
Now living in California with his wife and four children, Himmelman grew up in the Minneapolis suburb of St. Louis Park, where he began his career. He was playing and writing his own music by the time he finished sixth grade. In tenth grade, Peter had found his way out of white suburbia to North Minneapolis, where he played guitar with a group of R&B musicians, among them the great soul singer Alexander ONeal. Peter then immersed himself in the music of Bob Marley, and by twelfth grade, had become the guitarist for Shangoya, a transplanted Trinidadian reggae and calypso band. All the while, Peter was fronting his New Wave quintet Sussman Lawrence, whose influences included the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Costello, The Allman Brothers, and The Who.
Peter graduated high school early and landed a job writing and performing comedy sketches for Steamroller, a local TV show. Peter, whose Steamroller alias was Sussman Lawrence, used his job at the show as a means to get his own band on TV. The band, which included his cousin and schoolmates from his hometown, appeared on Steamroller and performed a song Peter had written for a comedy sketch. That appearance brought them their first indie record deal and formally launched their career.
While all roads pointed to pop stardom for the band, winds of change began to blow through Peters life. His beloved father fell ill and eventually succumbed to lymphoma. Himmelman got through this personal tragedy by writing music which expressed all the feelings he could not otherwise share. With all these changes going on inside him, Himmelman no longer felt satisfied with the music he had been writing and performing for Sussman Lawrence. As his life was changing, his art was changing as well. He eventually confronted his band and told them that he needed to record a solo album. Because their bonds ran deep (and still do), the guys stuck with Peter and backed him on This Fathers Day, his first solo effort, which ultimately garnered Peter a recording contract with Island Records in 1986, and was deemed "stunning" by Rolling Stone.
Peter has since released 10 solo albums and 2 childrens albums, which have brought him tremendous critical acclaim. His writing on his debut Epic release, From Strength to Strength, prompted Time Magazine to dub him one of "The New Troubadours", describing Peter as "writing songs with the same emphatic edge and aesthetic urgency that impelled the Lost Generation to write novels." His second solo album Gematria (1987) spun off a top 30 hit. Himmelman received the Minnesota Music Award in the category of Best Male Songwriter for his album Flown This Acid World in 1993. His debut childrens CD on Baby Boom Music, My Best Friend is a Salamander, received both the 1997 Parents Choice Award and the Family Channel Seal of Quality.
In addition to his work as a songwriter and recording artist, Peter has distinguished himself as a performer without precedent. USA Today called Himmelman "one of rocks most wildly imaginative performers." The great great grandson of a song and dance man from Russia, Peter has inherited the ability to totally captivate his live audiences -- a gift which has helped him to establish his devout international following. Whether hes passing out paper and crayons to solicit audience participation, or playing the role of Pied Piper by leading a couple of hundred people out of a club to continue his performance by moonlight on the shores of a Minneapolis lake, Peters highly improvisational shows leave a lasting impression on a crowd. " Ill do whatever it takes to break down the barriers between myself and an audience. I need the room to be turned into a kind of utopian community where time and space are completely transcended. If I cant take you away from your job and your mortgage payments for a couple of hours, then Ive failed as a performer."
Himmelmans resume in TV and film is extensive. He has scored a wide variety of shows for various networks including Bug Juice, In The Zone, Making the Band, Going to California, The American Embassy, and InStyle Magazine to name a few. His music has also been heard in episodes of Felicity, Providence, and Miami Vice. His feature film work includes Pyrates (Columbia/TriStar) with Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, Crossing the Bridge (Touchstone Pictures) with Stephen Baldwin, Jason Gedrick, and David Schwimmer, Snow in August (Showtime), Heart of Dixie (HBO), along with a variety of independent films including: Dinner and Driving, Souler Opposites, Liars Poker starring Flea, and A Slipping Down Life starring Lili Taylor and Guy Pearce. Peters music also appears in D2: The Mighty Ducks.
"Some people think its odd to wear so many hats. It just seems like they fit my head."