Michael Cain was born April 2, 1966 in Los Angeles, California, and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada, shortly thereafter. He first started playing the piano at the age of four and was quickly improvising and composing. The following year he began studying classical music, although by the age of ten it was jazz that became predominant, as well as an interest in integrating several kinds of popular music.
Michael went on to attend several universities starting with the University of North Texas. Although initially a jazz major, he found that classical music was occupying more of his time and switched to that major. From there he moved to Los Angeles and continued to study classical piano at the University of Southern California, and finally ended up at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, CA., where he did both undergraduate and graduate work. Michael received a Bachelor's degree in jazz piano 1988, and a Master's degree in fine arts in 1990. While a student and teaching assistant at Cal Arts he became particularly interested in non-western music and began studying the music of Bali, Ghana, and India. While a student at Cal Arts, Michael began playing with Los Angeles- based musicians, including Billy Higgins, Marlena Shaw, big band leader and composer Gerald Wilson, and the New American Orchestra. He also began touring and recording with flutist James Newton and recorded If Love, a CD also featuring drummer Billy Hart and bassist Anthony Cox.