With his intimate, folk-inflected sound, Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, has built a loyal following, garnering accolades and chart success along the way. A native of Brighton, Rosenberg initially started Passenger as a band, but after a debut album, he headed out on his own, assuming the moniker as his stage name. He busked around Australia while recording his first few albums, before breaking through with the single "Let Her Go" from his 2012 album, All the Little Lights. The song topped the charts in several countries, including peaking at number one on the Billboard Adult Top 40 chart. It also earned Rosenberg a Brit Award nomination for British Single of the Year, and won the Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work. Since then, Rosenberg has remained a constant presence on the folk and pop charts, issuing a handful of lyrical and cinematic albums.
Rosenberg was born in Brighton, England in 1984 to an English mother and American father. He started taking classical guitar lessons, and by his early teens was writing his own songs. Hoping to pursue a music career, he left school at age 16, and spent several years busking in England and Australia. After he met multi-instrumentalist/producer Andrew Phillips in 2002, the duo formed Passenger, bringing on board bassist Marcus O'Dair, keyboardist Richard Brincklow, and drummer Alon Cohen. In 2007 they released Passenger's full-length debut, Wicked Man's Rest, which spawned the single "Walk You Home." Passenger opened for several high-profile indie acts throughout the U.K. that year, including Kate Nash and the Hold Steady. The following year found the band providing the soundtrack to the film Where Have I Been All Your Life? and performing at the 2008 SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.
After Phillips left the band in 2009, Rosenberg adopted Passenger as his stage name. His sophomore album, Wide Eyes Blind Love, also released that year, reflected this change with a stripped-down acoustic sound. A year later, Passenger returned with the "fan-only" release Divers and Submarines. Also in 2010, he released Flight of the Crow, featuring collaborations with such artists as Josh Pyke, Katie Noonan, Elana Stone, and others.
In 2012, Rosenberg released his fifth full-length effort as Passenger, All the Little Lights, which featured a more fully fleshed-out sound. While the album was released in the summer of 2012, it wasn't until 2013 that the single "Let Her Go" broke through as a hit in Europe, eventually reaching number one in 16 countries, including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Italy, and Belgium. By the end of 2014, "Let Her Go" had garnered a Brit Award nomination for British Single of the Year, and won the Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work.
Rosenberg had already begun work on his next album, Whispers, toward the end of 2013 and enlisted All the Little Lights co-producer Chris Vallejo to work with him. Whispers was released in 2014 and featured the singles "Scare Away the Dark" and "Heart's on Fire." Also well received, it peaked at number two in Australia and number five in England, and landed at number 12 on the Billboard 200. A year later, Rosenberg paired again with Vallejo for Whispers II, with all profits going to help fund UNICEF U.K.'s work in Liberia.
Passenger returned in 2016 with Young as the Morning Old as the Sea, which saw Rosenberg and Vallejo collaborating as producers alongside a newly assembled group of musicians. A massive success, the album topped the U.K. charts and reached the Top Ten in countries around the world. In the summer of 2017, at the end of a major tour, Rosenberg surprised his fans with his eighth studio album, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, which was issued by his own label. The album peaked at number five on the U.K. charts. In 2018, Rosenberg celebrated his American heritage with the rootsy, Americana-inflected Runaway, featuring the single "Hell or High Water." To promote the album, he embarked on a three-week road trip of the United States, filming acoustic video performances of songs from the album at various inspiring locations. ~ Matt Collar