Michael W. Smith

Michael W. Smith Biography

Through life’s inevitable changes, we live with a dizzying mix of belief and unbelief. As with the man in the Gospel of Mark, we cry, “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief.” Jesus intercedes. Apathy put down, we are emboldened to stand for hope and love.

That’s the declarative message behind Stand, Michael W. Smith’s 19th studio album for Reunion Records.

“Stand is a call to stand up for what you believe in,” says the award-winning singer/songwriter. “It’s a call to stand in awe of the One who gave all and to stand outside of the walls of the church rubbing shoulders with the lost. Together, we stand as followers of Jesus sharing a powerful opportunity: To live as a child of God.

“We must live as though we believe we are loved,” he says.

Smith releases Stand inspired by experiences culled during extensive international touring last year, as well as lessons at home, including his work as co-pastor of New River Fellowship, a Nashville-area church he helped establish.

“Scripture tells us that as children of God we inherit great things—love, hope, peace—all by God’s grace. Long ago people would have said we get to eat at the King’s table all the days of our lives. Today, we’d say we are given the power to live with abundant hope.

“But the problem I’ve seen,” Smith continues, “is that the biggest enemy we have as followers of God is that we just don’t believe who we are. And I’ve been right there, too.”

“So I’m taking a stand—and I hope others will—to really live what I believe and embrace who I am in Jesus Christ. And then I believe we are called to just get with it. We are called to share our joy by serving the lost. The poor. The sick. The brokenhearted. The least of these. In Christ, we are given the courage and strength to change the world.”

Produced by Matt Bronleewe, Stand rallies believers to their feet through ardent songs of mission and of worship.

“I heard someone say we need to think about what happens on Sundays as only 10 percent of what it means to be the church. The rest of the week should be 90 percent of what it means to be the church, the real body of Christ. That idea challenged me. Worship is great and necessary, but what are we doing the rest of the week?” Smith asks. “In Silence” calls the church to quick action:

“Sometimes we’re loudest when the doors are shut and no one can see our face/ But it seems we’re quiet when some one needs a touch of heaven’s grace/ I’m not gonna sit and stay in silence/I’m not gonna walk away in silence…”

Service in this spirit can only be fueled by the kind of love that knows no boundaries, exemplified primarily in Jesus. “‘Open Arms’ is about showing people the cross,” Michael says of the theme. “Again, it’s a call to stand up and be the church we’re supposed to be.” “Come to the Cross” extends that idea, representing Christ’s open invitation to discover freedom and the opportunity to become what God intends for each of us to be.

“It’s freeing to someone who’s been through hell and back when you tell them there’s room at the cross for them. That it doesn’t matter what they’ve done or where they’ve been. Their hearts turn, and they say, ‘That’s for me,’” Smith observes.

While Stand inspires listeners toward a love-centered purpose, the record crescendos by hitting a worshipful attitude along side its central message. The move stands for Smith’s belief that in worship believers gain strength for accomplishing God’s work, as exemplified in “Be Lifted High” and “Oh Lord You’re Beautiful,” made popular by the late singer/songwriter Keith Green. In kind, the ballad “Grace” is psalm-like in tone and uplifting in spirit. Written by Martin Smith (Delirious), the song returns thanks to God for blessing us with his empowering spirit in spite of our foolish and fickle ways.

The album draws toward its finale by uniting mission and worship in the simple chorus of the title track, while “Come See” extends an invitation to know grace. “God’s arms are open, ready to take you just as you are,” Smith says, summarizing the call.

Juggling responsibilities for his debut earlier this year in the Sony Pictures film Second Chance, Smith relied on the largest ensemble of contributors he’s ever had to complete the project right. “I had to turn some responsibilities over to others, which I hardly ever do, and it all just paid off,” Smith says. For example, “How to Say Goodbye,” reunites Smith with a music veteran who helped launch his career, singer/songwriter Amy Grant. “Amy’s a great writer, and I’ve been dying to do something with her again,” Smith says. “I asked her to put words to music I wrote after dropping off our daughter Whitney at college, which was one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had. Amy really hit a home run capturing a lot of mixed emotions.”

On seven of the record’s 11 tracks, Smith invested extensively in 18-year-old songwriter Leeland Mooring, frontman from the new Essential Records rock band Leeland. Michael, who has long mentored up-and-coming acts, says, “This kid’s special. Somehow he’s tapped into the heartbeat of God. There’s no doubt to me Leeland is destined for greatness.” The pop hit “Escape Your Love” is one fruit of that collaboration. A hooky, romantic lyric celebrating relationships, the light-hearted, closing track was co-written by Mooring and Tyler Smith, Michael’s son. It honors the 25 years of marriage Michael celebrated recently with his wife, Debbie. Other Mooring standouts include “Cover Me,” “Come to the Cross,” and “Open Arms.”

With so many men and women uniting to create the album, Stand illustrates the power of community building for a greater good.

“We cannot be deceived. We cannot believe we’re not good enough because our works don’t measure up,” Smith says. “By grace, we are children of God—and it’s time we started living as though we really believe that truth. That’s ‘it.’ Period.”

Stand emerges as another thought-provoking album from one of the most popular recording artists in Christian music. Smith has enjoyed chart-topping success on pop radio, and he’s amassed a staggering 31 No. 1 singles. To date Smith’s sold over 13 million units resulting in five RIAA-certified platinum and 16 gold projects, an American Music Award, three GRAMMY Awards and 40 Dove Awards. His most recent recordings have included best-selling projects Worship and Worship Again, each contributing dramatically to the advancement of today’s modern worship movement.

In addition to his work at New River Fellowship, Smith is founder and president of his Rocketown Records label and founder of a Nashville teen club, Rocketown. He also remains a regarded philanthropist active in DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade Africa, established by U2 frontman Bono), Compassion International, and was recently appointed by President George W. Bush as vice chair of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. But Smith pushes away his résumé.

“I know who I am more today than I ever have,” Smith says with that signature grin we’ve come to appreciate across his distinguished career. “But my confidence doesn’t have anything to do with all that. I know who I am because I really believe I’m a child of God.

“Life’s not all about the stuff we can accumulate or the honors people heap on us,” Smith continues. “Serving people in the name of Jesus is what really matters in the world. We have to step into people’s lives so that they can be changed by God.

“But we really have to start believing this is our mission—that this is the authority that is ours as children of God. Simple acts can start to change thousands of peoples’ lives.

“It’s time we take a stand believing we are loved,” Smith concludes. “And then, let’s go. Let’s go change the world.”

Michael W. Smith Bio from Discogs

Born October 7, 1957.

He is a Grammy Award-winning American singer-songwriter, musician, recording artist, composer, and actor.


Married to Deborah D. Smith.

Father of Ryan Smith (10), Whitney Smith, Tyler Smith (10), Emily Smith (2), and Anna Smith (2).

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