It has been three years since vocalist Michael Cagle has come home to the Tri-Cities for a visit.
And on Dec. 31 he'll lend his powerful singing voice to this year's First Night Tri-Cities event at Columbia Basin College in Pasco. He will perform at 10 p.m. in the CBC theater.
A lot has happened to this hometown boy since he moved away six years ago.
The move not only had its hopeful moments and heartbreaking disappointments, but it also made a dramatic impact on his personal life.
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He got divorced, embraced his homosexuality and took off for Las Vegas to earn his wings in the music business and hopefully win a Grammy some day.
"I believe I've grown both personally and professionally since I left the Tri-Cities," Cagle said recently from his Vegas home. "In the beginning, my goal to be a serious recording artist was not as big a passion as it is now."
Life's hard knocks taught him some valuable lessons, he said.
"I learned a family member had a terminal illness and suddenly waiting for tomorrow was not an option for me," Cagle said.
He realized everyday was a gift, and he should quit coming up with excuses for himself as to why things didn't always turn out the way he wanted.
"Now it's all about growth and doing my best at becoming all I can be," he said. "I'm finally at a place in my life where I'm finally happy with who I am."
That growth includes a new record contract he recently signed with the Universal Music Group based in Los Angeles.
"The first songs with this major record label will begin appearing (playing on radio stations) in February 2011," he said.
A couple of years ago, he caught a break and was asked to sing in a country music show in Vegas that featured the music of Rascal Flatts.
He hedged at taking the role at first because he thought it meant he would have to impersonate the voice of Flatts lead singer Gary Levox.
"But rather than impersonating, the producer wanted my personality singing songs from Rascal Flatts," Cagle said. "I could be me without the worry of imitating someone else."
The show ran for six months before closing.
Despite the hardships of trying to make it in the music business, Cagle feels he's come a long way since graduating from Kennewick High School in 1984.
"I'm really so excited about performing at First Night Tri-Cities this year," he said. "It'll be very emotionally for me because the Tri-Cities is where it all started for me."
He was involved with community theater here as well as many other music festivals while growing up. And for a time, he also was involved with a music ministry.
"Music ministry is still my favorite form of music," he said. "Whenever I do my own shows, I try to include a little gospel sound."
But his First Night appearance will be a mix of all sorts of Cagle's favorites.
"People are going to have a fabulous time," he promised. "The show will be much like what I do in my Vegas shows."
Admission to the CBC campus is free, but you will need a button to gain entry to the indoor entertainment venues. They are $10 each. Children 5 and younger are free. Buttons available at all Tri-City Sunmart locations or at the event.