“The music never ends,” but it did ever so briefly with the passing of musical legend, American Songbook interpreter, composer, and lyricist, Michael H. Palter (Mikee) on August 30, 2021.
For over 50 years, with Lynne Jackson Palter, his partner in marriage, business, music, creative processes, and breath, Mikee regaled lovers of music the world over with his magnificent voice, his delicate, rich interpretive bass playing, his wit, humor, intelligence, and professorial love of music. Dedicating his entire life to social justice issues and children’s rights, Mikee was schooled in politics and life by his late father, Louis Palter, and late mother, Eunice (Abramson) Palter, from whom he got his vocal talents.
Mikee distinguished himself at UMASS Amherst, then later at the University of New Mexico, as a humanitarian and activist, where he was honored to receive the Paul Re Peace Prize. Whether at the March on Washington in 1963, or as a co-founder with his professors and former wife, Elizabeth Schneck Palter at UMASS, of Synthesis, which was an organization for peace and disarmament, or while performing the anthem he co-wrote with Lynne and Arthur Hamilton for UNICEF, “We Dream a Brighter Day” at the United Nations, Mikee was adamant that every voice be heard, especially that of the underrepresented and underserved.
Among his many honors, Mikee was the recipient of the first Encore Cabaret Humanitarian Award for efforts on behalf of children, the hungry, and the homeless. Among the numerous songs written to raise funds was “Lullaby,” for burn victims and medical prostheses for the children of Nicaragua. Invited by the family of General George Patton to perform in Normandy to commemorate the 51st anniversary of the liberation of France, they earned the personal congratulations of President Jacques Chirac. Mikee and Lynne, with Arthur Hamilton, also co-wrote “It’s All Right to Be Afraid” to raise funds for those affected by the AIDS epidemic.
His life was dedicated to activism. This was so obvious in his joyous work collaborating with Lynne while educating and singing with children as the musical director of Neverland Theater for over a decade and as the co-founder, playwright, composer, lyricist, and musical director of Jazz is a Rainbow, for almost two decades.
Mikee was constantly entertaining his family and his varied audiences and students with jokes, endless pranks, and puns, which resulted in years of eye rolling, head shaking, and belly laughs at many the holiday table.
His children and grandchildren, Lisa Palter of Rhode Island (Edwin DeShazo) and their children Olivia and Zach, and David Palter of California (Celine Fua Palter) and their children Louis and Ellie, along with his siblings, Nancy Palter Gorden of Florida (Brian), Dianne Palter Gill (Joseph) of Beverly, Leslie Palter of Swampscott, and Alan Palter (Cathy) of California, and all their children Robert and Kelly Gorden and Thomas, Michelle Gorden, Lauren Gill Pimpare and Jay Pimpare and Myla, Boston, and Coco, Joseph and Lauren Gill and Brielle, Brady, Matthew Gill, Becka Palter and Natalie Palter will forever miss their dad and brother and grandpa and “Uncle Monkey,” and along with all of Mikee’s loving cousins and his Auntie Glenda Abramson, and the supporters who became part of their extended family, they all know “the music will never end.”
Take me to your home
Take me to your children and your hearth
And the quiet places in your soul
Where fiends and angels bargain dreams
And hopes from dust rise to speed the night
Just take me in
As you would the traveler in the storm
Or ship-wrecked sailor, even thief
My silences and the harmonies are yours to listen and create
Take me in
I won’t betray your faith
And we will live together while the clock ticks
And the wolf howls
I will sing your song.
– by Michael Palter
A memorial service will be held at a later date.