“I don’t flow for street credibility. Because the streets need hope more than I need credibility.” ME

Michael D. Ellison is an African-American recording artist and actor. Ellison was born in Ethiopia and is based in Detroit, Michigan.

Ellison’s 2013 CD Flytanium is an introspective album that redefines the performer’s musical identity. Ellison’s recent film work includes roles in movie’s “Love and Honor” (2013), “Quad” (2013), and “Beyond The Mask” (2013).

The recording artist’s AfroFlow CD, released under the moniker MIKE-E, was the first hip-hop project released by Detroit’s Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, at the time the world’s largest institution dedicated to the African-American experience. The AfroFlow Tour combined music and outreach programs in the U.S. and Africa, and helped garner the artist international attention.

EPK / Intro Video


Mike Ellison was born in Ethiopia and lived with his family in Addis Ababa before relocating to Reston, Virginia where he was raised. Ellison graduated from the University of Virginia with a degree in communications, worked in the field of professional sports for several years thereafter, and transitioned into a full time artist in Detroit.

The foundation of Ellison’s early family life is described by his father, the late Bob Ellison, the first and to-date only African-American President of the White House Correspondents Association, in the piece “Keeping the Promise.” The elder Ellison penned the personal account of his son’s sojourn from Africa to America and back shortly before his untimely death on May 24, 2010 due to pulmonary complications resulting from previous years of smoking.

Ellison initially emerged as a spoken word artist with regular performances at Detroit’s Cafe Mahogany, known in the late 90s for fostering performance poets, singers and emcees. Ellison performed at numerous venues throughout Detroit, and the country, appearing as an opening act for hip-hop, R&B, soul and jazz concerts.

The poet’s repeat appearances on the HBO series “Russell Simmons presents: Def Poetry,” include “Mezeker Means to Remember,” a meditation on the universal struggle for freedom and equality; and “Lightskin-Did”, a satirical take on the decline of fair skinned African-Americans in popular media, prompted by the prevalence of darker hued celebrities, previously passed over due to color bias. Toward that end the poem highlighted the accomplishments and popularity of basketball legend Michael Jordan, actors Denzel Washington, Wesley Snipes and Morris Chestnut, and rappers Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.

Ellison was then tapped for on-camera performances during the NFL Network’s 2007 NFL Draft and season long Thursday Night Football broadcasts. On December 29, 2007, as 34 million viewers tuned in to watch the 15-0 New England Patriots face the New York Giants, he opened the NFL’s first ever three-network simulcast (NFL Network, CBS, NBC) with a piece addressing the Patriots’ quest for a perfect season.

Moving from the gridiron to the hardwood, Ellison assisted Karin Buchholz, former Vice President of Community Relations and Field Marketing/Fan Development for the New York Knicks, Rangers and Liberty, in founding and then hosting the New York Knicks Poetry Slam, profiled in an Emmy Award-winning MSG Network program.

The event began in 2003 with a small reading at the Hue Man Bookstore in Harlem, NY. Under Buchholz’ leadership, the Knicks Poetry Slam grew to a citywide performance and written poetry competition that rewarded young poets with four year scholarships to major colleges and universities, prize money, computers and educational supplies. In partnership with acclaimed youth poetry and literacy organization, Urban Word NYC, and its executive director, Michael Cireli, the event ran annually for nearly ten years.


As an actor, Ellison’s credits span film, television and theatre.

In 2002 he appeared in and provided voice over for 2002’s “Standing in the Shadows of Motown;” and narrated the segments

“At Long Last Glory” and “The Ones Who Didn’t Make It” for the film’s DVD release.

Ellison earned roles in “Love & Honor” (2013), starring Liam Hemsworth and Theresa Palmer; Quad (2013) starring Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul of AMC’s popular “Breaking Bad” series; “Beyond the Mask” (TBD) directed by Chad Burns and the tornado thriller “Black Sky,” directed by Steve Quale (2013). Ellison appeared in “All’s Faire In Love” (2009) headlined by Christina Ricci and “Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations” (2009), the third installment of the horror franchise kicked off by Ashton Kutcher. His song “Aleho U Lovin’ Me,” was also featured in the film.

In addition to spoken word performances on HBO, Ellison appeared in the first episode of the network’s popular original series “Hung” (2009), directed by two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne. Ellison portrayed Detective Greg Garson in the episode “Broken Engagement” on ABC’s “Detroit 1-8-7” in 2010. In 2007 Ellison wrote, produced and appeared in a series of public service announcements for the American Cancer Society (ACS), including “Victorious,” which featured his aunt, Veronica Elliott, a cancer and heart transplant survivor.

Ellison has appeared in theatre productions, including award-winning presentations of “A Soldier’s Story” and “Full Circle.” He has also provided voice-over for documentaries, advertisements, and national hip-hop and R&B concert tours including Jay-Z’s “Fade to Black Tour,” Usher’s ‘Truth Tour”, Trey Songz’ “Chapter 5 Tour”, and several of “The Scream Tour” concert series that featured the likes of Ne-Yo, Lil Bow Wow, B2K, and Omarion.


Black Sky (2014)
Beyond The Mask (2014)

Quad (2014)
Love and Honor (2013)
Little Murder (2011)
The Ides of March (2011)
All’s Faire in Love (2009)
The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations (2009)
Joy Road (2004)
Standing in the Shadows of Motown (2002)

Detroit 1-8-7 (2010, ABC TV series)
HUNG (2009, HBO TV Series)
NFL Draft (2007, NFL Network)
Thursday Night Football (2007 – 2008 season, NFL Network)
New England Patriots vs. N.Y. Giants (2007 simulcast NFL Network, NBC, CBS)
Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (2005, HBO Series)
Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry (2003, HBO Series)
“Victorious” (2007, PSA)
“Detroit Public Schools” (2006, PSA)


Flytanium [2014] as Mike Ellison
AfroFlow II [2010], as MIKE-E
AfroFlow [2007], as MIKE-E


“(Ethiopia) Everything Will Be Alright” [Single 2003] as MIKE-E
“Addis Ababe Bete” “[Remix/Video 2007]
“Turikumwe” [Single 2011]


With the release of his third studio album, “Flytanium”, Mike Ellison reintroduces himself with a markedly differently sound, drawing on myriad influences from a vantage point of artistic confidence earned through years of creative endeavor.

With musician and songwriter Mark Chu’s compositions, Ellison’s Flytanium reflects the influences of Detroit’s diverse musical landscape, ranging from hip-hop and soul to pop and electronica. Lyrically, Ellison veers inward toward love, relationships, and self-actualization, while continuing to explore the themes of social consciousness and defiance that characterized the artist’s earlier work.


As MIKE-E, Ellison released the 2004 single “Ethiopia (Everything Will Be Alright)” in the U.S. and his birth-country Ethiopia, where it became an anthemic hit.
His subsequent CD 2007’s “AfroFlow” (flowing from Africa), recognized the African roots of hip-hop and humanity. The CD and its 2010 “AfroFlow II” sequel featured nods to musical traditions that spanned the African Diaspora. Both CDs strive to create respect for Africa as the source of civilization, and for Ellison’s artistic base, Detroit, as a wellspring of music and culture.

AfroFlow I was marked by social and political commentary, supplemented with celebratory songs. AfroFlow II delivered a similar blend with deeper lyrical complexity and musicality. The project presented collaborations with a medley of artists including Senegalese bassist/singer Pathé Jassi, traditional Ethiopian kirar player Temesgen Hussein, Bluesman Paul Miles, versatile vocalist Kenny Watson, Americana/Folk singer Alison Lewis, multi-genre singer Monica Blaire and jazz musicians Rayse Biggs, Randy Scott and Ed Gooch.

“AfroFlow II” was highlighted by the video “Stamina,’” which merged East and West African traditions with elements of African-American ethos and hip-hop expression.

TOURS / Fighting Cancer and Big Tobacco

Mike Ellison extended the AfroFlow concept into the multi-year AfroFlow Tour (2007 – present). Ellison’s onstage criticism of the tobacco industry’s disproportionate advertising targeting children, teens and young adults in African-American, Latino, and economically challenged communities caught the attention of the American Cancer Society (ACS).

Ellison, in coordination with the ACS, garnered corporate sponsor support and created the AfroFlow Tour, an initiative utilizing live music and extensive community outreach as a platform to engage young audiences and families in fighting the cancer risks and health effects associated with tobacco abuse.

The tour has featured a rotating cast of musicians, B-Boys, traditional African drummers and dancers, delivering its message to K-12 schools, colleges and universities, performance venues, festivals and cultural celebrations across 25 states. The 2012 and 2013 tours were entitled “Music Saved My Life”, with a heavy concentration in the Midwest, particularly Illinois.

ETHIOPIA / Outreach and Education

Since 2004, as a performer, fundraiser and volunteer, Ellison has helped raise awareness and money for health initiatives across Ethiopia, including African Prize for Leadership Honoree and celebrated humanitarian, Sister Tibebe Maco’s Hiwot Integrated Development Association (HIDA), formerly HIV/AIDS Prevention Care and Support Organization (HAPCSO); the construction of Harrar’s Fistula Clinic, spearheaded the Fistula Foundation and Tesfa Iniste, a volunteer group of Ethiopian women; and medical missions conducted by the Ethiopian North American Health Professionals Association (ENAHPA) and its construction of the Maternal Child Health Center in Awassa. In 2008, Ellison led the American Cancer Society’s first official delegation to Ethiopia in support of oncology at Addis Ababa’s Black Lion Hospital and Ethiopia’s Life’s Second Chance Foundation. Ellison’s work with the Sister Tibebe Maco’s orphan support programs and numerous Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Associations at colleges and universities continues today.

Ellison was also a featured performer at the July 2010 FESPAD (Festival of Pan-African Dance) in Kigali, Rwanda. Acknowledging the horrific genocide of 1994, while emphasizing Rwanda’s resilience in rebuilding the picturesque country, Ellison led an enthusiastic crowd in a chant he created from the letters of its namesake: 
Rebuild With Africa Never Divide Again. This mantra became the impetus for the 2011 single, “Turikumwe” (we are together). Inspired by a tour of the Kigali Genocide Memorial Centre and the Masharika Theatre Company’s play commemorating the tragedy that claimed over one million lives in approximately one hundred days, Ellison wrote the lyrics and melody for “Turikumwe” during his return flight to Detroit.

A year later, he produced and recorded the song in Detroit with Rwandan artist Ben Mugisha (aka The Ben). Released on Christmas Eve 2011 via social media and Rwandan entertainment websites, “Turikumwe” quickly became the #1 song in the country and remains popular among Rwandans worldwide.

In October 2011, February 2012 and 2013, Ellison produced and performed with the “Fela Outreach Initiative” for middle and high schools. The live music and multi-media presentations taught students about the life and legacy of famed Nigerian musician and activist, Fela Anikulapo Kuti; while highlighting culture, history and progressive development throughout the African continent.

In similar fashion, Ellison wrote and produced BROKEN MIRRORS: Bullies & Bystanders soon thereafter, to address bullying and teen suicide. The production employs music, interpretive dance, compelling personal testimonies, and interactive media as a vehicle to explore this social plague’s greater relationship to present and historical intolerance and discrimination.