Michael Maffei, a Buffalo singer-songwriter, AIDS activist and longtime AIDS survivor, died Dec. 28 in Erie County Medical Center. He was 53.
Encouraged by his parents in his musical aspirations as he was growing up, he considered music his driving force. A regular at Peopleart and the Coffee Bean Cafe in Buffalo, he also performed at the Turtle Hill Folk Festival, the Williamson Folk Fest, clubs in Toronto and Syracuse, and as an opener for Shakespeare in Delaware Park.
A reviewer wrote of Mr. Maffei's first CD, "Consequences of Desire," in 2001, "With grit and grace, [his] musical vignettes hit home with anyone for whom love's been a hard road, but who ain't pulling off to the side just yet." He was working on a second CD at the time of his death.
Diagnosed with AIDS in 1990, he became deeply involved in improving understanding of the disease. He was a frequent speaker at high schools and AIDS retreats.
Born in Niagara Falls, he grew up on Grand Island. He was a graduate of Bishop Duffy High School in Niagara Falls and attended Brockport State College before moving to California, where he lived for 12 years and worked as an interior designer.
Returning to Buffalo in 1986, Mr. Maffei did window treatments for Amherst Interiors and became active in the local gay community, helping to organize several Gay Pride events. He also performed at Gay Pride celebrations in Toronto and Syracuse.
Surviving are his partner of 10 years, Kyle Meaker; a sister, Susan; and a brother, Francis.
Many of the musicians who performed with him will offer a celebration of his life at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 12 in First Presbyterian Church, 1 Symphony Circle.
-- Dale Anderson