Michael W. Smith
|Michael W. Smith|
|SERMONS, ESSAYS AND OPINIONS||
Since his first solo project in 1983, Smith has become one of the most popular artists in the Contemporary Christian Music world, while also finding considerable success in the mainstream. Smith has frequently topped both Christian radio and Billboard charts, and is often listed as one of the top keyboardists in rock and roll in Keyboard Magazine. Smith had sold more than seven million records and had 25 #1 hit songs. By 2003, he had 10 gold records and 3 platinum records.
By the time Smith graduated from high school, he had found himself with serious drug and alcohol abuse problems. Nevertheless, he was able to get through a couple of years of college and develop his songwriting skills with various local bands. In October of 1979, Smith suffered an emotional and mental breakdown that awakened a recommitment to the Christian beliefs of his childhood. He cleaned up his substance abuse problem and began playing keyboards for the CCM group, Higher Ground.
In 1981, Smith was signed as a writer to Meadowgreen Music, where he racked up a number of highly successful gospel hits penned for artists like Sandi Patty, Kathy Troccoli, Bill Gaither and Amy Grant. The following year, Smith began touring as a keyboardist for Grant on her Age to Age tour. He would eventually become Grant's opening act, and recorded his first Grammy nominated solo album, Michael W. Smith Project (which he also produced), in 1983, on the Reunion label, a label started by Grant's brother-in-law, Dan Harrell, along with Michael Blanton.
By the time Smith's second pop album was released in 1984, he was headlining his own tours. In 1986, Smith released the critically acclaimed rock effort The Big Picture, with well known record producer Johnny Potoker (Brian Eno, Genesis, Madonna, No Doubt, Talking Heads, etc).
After the release of his 1988 effort, I 2 eye, Smith once again teamed up with Amy Grant for her "Lead Me On World Tour". The following year, Smith recorded his first Christmas album.
In 1990, Smith released Go West Young Man, which was his first real mainstream effort. That album was followed by 1992's Change Your World, 1995's I'll Lead You Home and 1998's Live The Life. Also in 1998, Smith released his second Christmas effort, Christmastime. In 1999, Smith released This Is Your Time, largely inspired by the Columbine shootings. Smith had been asked to perform at some of the memorial services that were held in honor of the victims, which made a huge impression on Smith.
In 1996, Smith opened his own record label (although he does not record on it), Rocketown Records, named for a teen club which he established for Christian youth in the Nashville area. He states the label is driven by the artists, and one of its first artists signed was Chris Rice, who had written "Go Light Your World," a #1 hit song by Kathy Troccoli, in 1995.
Nearly all of Smith's albums contain at least one instrumental track, and in 2000, Smith recorded his first all instrumental album, Freedom. The following year, Smith released an all praise and worship album, called Worship, which was followed by a sequel, Worship Again. Both albums were recorded live in concert. A Worship Again DVD was released in 2002, which immediately topped the Billboard video charts.
After two decades, Smith finally won the coveted Male Vocalist of the Year award at the Dove Awards in 2003.
Smith's latest album, "Healing Rain" was released in 2004. It combines the pop style of his previous recordings with the praise and worship feel of his two releases in that genre. The title track was the first released as a single, and Smith has recently recorded a music video to coincide with the song.