Michael began playing guitar at the age of eight, influenced by his grandfather, a New York City musician.
He spent much of high school in various rock bands, while continuing to study guitar privately.
As a guitar major in college, he was deeply influenced by jazz, including Bebop figures Charlie Parker and Bud Powell, trumpeter Miles Davis, pianist Keith Jarrett, and guitarists Mike Stern, John Scofield, Pat Metheny and John McLaughlin.
After earning a B.A. in Guitar Performance from the University of Central Florida, he became intrigued with country guitar, particularly the playing of Albert Lee, Nashville session musician Brent Mason, Tony Rice, Danny Gatton, and Johnny Hiland.
Michael toured for 5 years with Nashville singer David Mathis and is one of the most sought-after country guitarists in Central Florida. He has played countless gigs in all styles of music and has worked or played with jazz saxophonists Sam Rivers and Steve Skinner, country guitarists Johnny Hiland and Bill Kirchen, country artists Toby Keith, Kevin Sharp, Mark Wills and Gary Allan, as well as members of southern rock band Molly Hatchet.
Michael has also been on the faculty of the National Guitar Workshop for the past ten years and continues his 20-year private teaching practice. He currently plays in Florida's premier top-forty dance band "The Boomers" and is the author of "Red Hot Country Guitar" published by Hal Leonard.
"Michael Hawley is one of those gifted musicians that can play virtually any style of music with taste, intelligence and feeling." Matt Smith(NYC based guitarist, Ovation clinician)
"I love this CD. Hawley's versatility is nothing short of amazing and he does it all really well while maintaining an original voice. What more could you ask for,"-- Mark Dziuba (Director of Jazz Studies, SUNY New Paltz, New York, Jazz guitar monster, Author for Alfred Publishing)
"Michael Hawley is a musician of the highest caliber. Listening to him play can be a humbling experience, for even the most accomplished player. His fiery yet restrained style defines him as truly a guitarist's guitarist. Michael Hawley is definitely one of the great unknown guitarists of our generation."-James Hogan (North Florida based Jazz/Fusion virtuoso and music educator)