In the beginning was God, and God made the Universe. A little bit later God made Matt. God did lots of other things, more important and more interesting, but this biography is primarily about Matt.
When Matt was born on November 19, 1977, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, his father had just spent the day taking final exams to graduate from Princeton Theological Seminary. His mother, a nurse, went into labor, so naturally Mom and Dad decided to go shopping at the mall. Dad bought an Ovation guitar. It was red. Three hours later at 11:44pm Matthew Donald Black was born. He was purple.
Before long Matt and his older brother were singing along to the Beatles in the back seat of the family Chevrolet as they traveled to visit grandparents or friends all over New England.
A short while later the family had moved to Santa Maria, California. Matt sang "Little Drummer Boy" with his older little drummer brother for a church talent show. Matt was seven, and it was very cute.
His creative and musical preacher-dad continued to rehearse and showcase his sons for special music in church. Each summer the family would travel back to New England to visit family and friends, and the Blacks would perform four-part a cappella songs for adoring grandparents with little Matt squeaking out the lead on "Happy Together" and "The Lion Sleeps Tonight". It was still very cute.
In seventh grade the family was now in Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, and Matt quit piano lessons after three years and had his father teach him guitar. Dad kindly spent hours watching a VHS tape on which they had recorded a video from MTV. The video was Extreme's "More Than Words". Dad listened and watched to make out the guitar chords, because Matt just had to learn that song. Then Matt also just had to learn "To Be With You" by Mr. Big. Then Matt knew enough chords to struggle through a couple of Beatles songs on his own.
Matt went to a summer music camp and had a great time. Matt joined the Donegal High School Chorus, danced and sang in the show choir, and participated in school musicals.
Then one day during his junior year, 16-year-old Matt was riding with his friends to school, and the car was filled with loud music of questionable musical merit. After enduring this for many mornings, Matt decided that anyone could write a bad song, and he intended to prove it. He went to his room with his guitar, and several hours later he emerged with a very bad song. However, it wasn't quite as bad as he had intended it to be. Actually, he kind of liked it. He decided he would write more songs, only now he would try to write good songs. He wrote and wrote, and of course all of these songs were awful. But it was fun, so he kept doing it.
Matt worked as a counselor at his beloved summer camp, leading songs around campfire with his guitar. Matt went to Penn State University and sang with Essence of Joy, a choir dedicated to outstanding music from the African-American traditions. Matt joined the State College Presbyterian Church and played guitar and sang with the youth programs and the college fellowship.
Matt graduated with a degree in Computer Science and got a job as a programmer. Then he married Kristin Hollenbach, his beautiful friend from church and college.
In 2002 Matt began playing his songs in coffee shops and bookstores around State College. In 2007, his debut album premiered on the Billboard Top 40 at number seven, and has yet to move from that position. All twelve songs from the album held all Top 10 singles slots for nineteen weeks. His second album, "Let's Give All Our Money Away" went platinum in 57 minutes. Two years later, world hunger ended, and in five years every military force in the world had been dissolved due to boredom. Most of the soldiers got jobs as Peace Corps workers, teachers, and doctors. Several took up ballet. One became the foremost guru of New-Age Taxidermy. The sudden re-appropriation of tax dollars allowed governments to cure cancer and AIDS in three weeks, health care became fully government-subsidized, and school music programs finally received decent funding. Matt's third album, due out next January, will be promoted by a world tour, including the first ever live telecast from the Moon.
Matt's favorite ice cream flavor is Mint Chocolate Chip.