Michael McLean

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Mormon Song Writer Michael McLean
Michael McLean is a songwriter, playwright, filmmaker, director, singer, and author.

Early life

McLean attended high school in the Chicago area. He was the only member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his graduating class, but managed to serve as student body president, as well as performing in the school's production of "The Music Man."[1]

McLean served a mission in South Africa. After returning from his mission, he formed a band. They performed at the bottom of the club circuit, but never got a break. While a student at Brigham Young University, he took a music theory class in which he received a C and was told that he did not have what it would take to make it in music professionally.[2]

After this, McLean went to the University of Utah. He took a weekly composition class with Merrill Bradshaw. He then did some writing of music for local commercials in Salt Lake City and made some headway at this.[3]

McLean finally quit college after his wife, Lynne, was in an auto accident. He made his first march into the limelight by writing commercials for the Church's "Homefront" campaign. He next took a job as producer for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 1976. McLean would work with the Choir until 1993.[4]


As a composer, McLean has produced more than 25 albums of original music, selling over one million copies since his 1983 debut. Focused mainly on a Latter-day Saint audience, McLean has also produced albums with a broader appeal, such as The Forgotten Carols.

The Forgotten Carols has enjoyed continued commercial success through annual, regional tours of a stage adaptation during the Christmas season. Breaking from his thirty-year theater tradition of the musical, McLean filmed an adaptation for movie theater viewing during the COVID-19 pandemic Christmas season. He had planned on expanding his tour, but instead was inspired by the Disney+ filming of the popular Broadway musical "Hamilton." The movie was filmed using 15 cameras in Cedar City’s Heritage Theater in early fall 2020. It was available for viewing in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and parts of Canada. He later made it available on DVD.

McLean authored a book in conjunction with The Forgotten Carols.

During the Christmas season of 2021, McLean, shepherded a 30th anniversary tour, but not in the way he had planned. He was diagnosed with COVID-19 in December and then had a heart attack in February 2021. From COVID-19, he had stage-five kidney failure and is on a donor list for a kidney transplant. Meanwhile, he cast someone else in the role of "Uncle John" and took on the role as narrator and other minor roles.

In 1986, McLean began work on a musical called The Ark, which originally debuted at the Plum Alley Theatre. In 2000, the musical participated in the Festivals of New Musicals in New York City. The play debuted off-Broadway in the fall of 2005.[1]
In the early 1980s, McLean, along with Merrill Jenson, convinced veteran actor James Stewart to work with him at a reduced rate in a made-for-tv film entitled Mr. Krueger's Christmas. McLean later worked with other notable actors in various writing, directing, and producing projects, including Academy Award winner Celeste Holm.
Other well-known films include Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, Together Forever, What Is Real?, and The Prodigal Son.
McLean's musical Threads premiered and toured regionally in spring 2013.

Personal Life

McLean and his wife, Lynne, are the parents of three children and two grandchildren. They live in Utah.

McLean describes a faith crisis he experienced after one of his sons came out to him as gay:


  • You're Not Alone (1983)
  • Stay With Me (1984)
  • Celebrating the Light (1985)
  • A New Kind of Love Song (1988)
  • One Heart in the Right Place (1990)
  • The Forgotten Carols (1991)
  • You've Always Been There For Me (1992)
  • The Collection, Volume 1 (1994)
  • Soundtracks (1994)
  • The Garden (1995)
  • Our Unspoken Song (1995)
  • Celebrating the Light Soundtrack (1995)
  • The Collection, Volume 2 (1997)
  • Father and Son (1997)
  • The Ark (1998)
  • Safe Harbors (1999)
  • Michael Sings McLean (2000)
  • Connie Lou's Christmas (2000)
  • Arise and Shine Forth (2000)
  • The Forgotten Carols: Anniversary Edition (2001)
  • Something's Changed (2002)
  • Hold On, The Light Will Come: And Other Lessons My Songs Have Taught Me (2003)
  • The Best Two Years (2004)
  • As I Am (2005)
  • The Other Side of Down (2008)
  • Hope Hiding (2008)
  • It’s Not Love ’Til It’s Been Through a Storm (2008)
  • See Us Shine (2008)
  • Tender Mercies (2008)
  • The Forgotten Carols: Anniversary Cast Recording (20th, 2011)


  • Distant Serenade (1993, with accompanying CD)
  • The Forgotten Carols: A Christmas Story & Songs (2004)
  • Mission to Be Happy (2010)
  • Memoir &mdash Hold On, The Light Will Come: And Other Lessons My Songs Have Taught Me (2012)


  1. Deseret News, November 13th, 2003
  2. Deseret News, November 13th, 2003
  3. Deseret News, November 13th, 2003
  4. Deseret News, November 13th, 2003

External links

More at MormonMusic.org