Fans love Michael Bolton. Critics hate him.

Bolton has survived the criticism during a 30-plus-year career. He's sold more than 53 million records and earned two Grammys for best male vocalist and six American Music Awards.

"You can't let one person's opinion ruin your lifetime of dreams," says Bolton, who's on tour.

The 55-year-old singer-songwriter has never let the critics stop him from doing what he has wanted to do since he was a youngster in New Haven, Conn. — make music.

Bolton has used his success to promote a variety of causes through Michael Bolton Charities, which has raised more than $7 million to provide assistance, education and shelter to children and women at risk.

A talk with the performer:

Q: You've been doing this for more than 30 years. Any plans to slow down?

A: Actually, I'm hoping to step it up for the new album coming out in August or September. I've heard this from a few people who have had careers that just run and run. It's something you never think of early on in your career because the striving, starving-artist years are so tough that you don't think in terms of slowing down. Twenty years after success begins and you have tour after tour, album after album, television show after television show — life kind of runs together. You're just grateful for the experience.

This was my dream as a teenager. It's not something you want to go away. It's not like, "I've worked hard enough, I wish I could retire now." You start to go stir-crazy when you take too much time off. The creative careers, the careers in the arts — if you love what you do, and your work is also your passion, it's something you wake up looking forward to. You tire from not doing it.

Q: Some critics have not been kind to you. Is it upsetting?

A: Does it bother me that I can't win everyone over? In the beginning I was surprised. I had a record deal when I was 16, but I didn't have a hit until I was 34. It was like an 18-year walk out into the desert. Finally, when the career kicked in with "That's What Love Is All About," it was such a feeling of relief and hope.

It surprises you when you run into people who don't love what you're doing. ... So when you read a review that somebody doesn't like what you've done or you hear this person doesn't like your music — it surprises you. But you have to realize, "Welcome to mainstream success." You cannot please everyone. The bigger your success, the more people who don't like what you're doing will write about you, because that gets their name noticed.

Q: You seem to have a lot of confidence in yourself.

A: I always knew this was what I was supposed to do. I didn't understand why it was taking so long. I just couldn't understand why I had so many near-successes. I think if I had known it would take 18 years — it's a good thing I didn't know because I wouldn't have chosen it. It was so tough sometimes, and I had three young daughters at the time who I tried to protect from the drama, the intensity, the reality of a check bouncing, not knowing where the food was coming from the following week, living hand to mouth, all the starving-artist syndromes that you read about. It's feast or famine and mostly famine in the artist's career.