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Biography



Personal
Name: Michael Whitaker Smith
Born: October 7, 1957 in Kenova, West Virginia
Married: to Debbie (formerly Deborah Kay Davis) on September 5, 1981
Children: Ryan, Whitney, Tyler, Anna, Emily

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Career Statistics
Grammy Awards: 3
Grammy Nominations: 13
Dove Awards: 36
Number One Songs: 31
Albums: 25
Double Platinum Albums: 1
Platinum Albums: 6
Gold Albums: 16
Albums Sold: 18,105,000+

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Background

Michael Whitaker Smith was born October 7, 1957, to Paul and Barbara Smith, in Kenova, West Virginia. His father was an oil refinery worker and his mother was a caterer and church secretary. He has one sister, Kim.

As a child, Michael was active in church activities, baseball, and playing piano, writing his first song when he was five. When he was ten years old, he made the decision to give his life to Christ. An early dream was to play professional baseball. During his teens he was surrounded with a solid support group of fellow believers who frequently gathered to play music. After graduating from high school, the group split up.

Michael attended a semester of college at Marshall University in West Virginia but dropped out and moved to Nashville with the hopes of a career in music. He played with local bands. Unable to get a record deal, Smith experimented with drugs and alcohol for a short time before reclaiming his direction and renewing his faith in October, 1979.

He started performing with a Christian group called Higher Ground, playing keyboards. While he was playing with Higher Ground, he signed his first songwriting contract with Paragon/Benson Publishing Company. The sixteen-hour days writing music was a labor of love for Michael.

It was during this time in 1981 that Smith met his wife, Debbie. Quoting from his book, It’s Time to be Bold:

“…one afternoon while I was working in my office, Deborah Kay Davis walked by. I thought she was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. When she passed by, it was all over for me. I was blown away. Totally head over heels in love. I frantically picked up the phone and called my mother in West Virginia. ‘Mom, I can’t believe it. You’re not going to believe this, Mom. I just saw the girl I’m going to marry.’ ‘What’s her name?’ ‘I don’t know, Mom. I haven’t met her yet. But I gotta go. I’ll find out and call you back.’ My poor mother! She must have thought I’d lost my mind. But I’d never been so clearheaded in my life. I left my office and went searching for this girl in the warehouse. Sherlock Holmes couldn’t have done a better job of tracking her down, and eventually I found myself standing outside the ladies’ restroom, waiting for her to emerge. She walked out. I introduced myself. We were engaged three and a half weeks later - and married four months after that!”

Michael’s next break came soon after he was asked to play keyboard in a young Amy Grant’s band. He began touring and Amy’s managers, Mike Blanton and Dan Harrell, saw a wealth of potential in Michael (and another young new talent, Kathy Troccoli), but they were unsuccessful in finding a record company to sign them. One door closing is an opportunity for another door opening, and as a result, they started Reunion Records. In 1983, Michael released his first album, The Michael W. Smith Project. Debbie, Michael’s wife, wrote the lyrics for Project. This debut album was nominated for a Grammy award for Best Gospel Performance. Michael’s trademark song, Friends, debuted on this first album.

Michael was elevated to Amy’s opening act and he continued to tour with her.

In 1984, Michael released his second album, Michael W. Smith 2. The next several years saw Michael releasing several more albums and two concert videos, Michael W. Smith Live In Concert and The Big Picture Tour. The style of music was being directed more toward a younger audience with more of a rock-oriented style. Some of the songs were secular in nature and enabled Smith to break into the mainstream music arena.

In 1991, Reunion Records allowed Geffen Records to distribute his albums, hoping to make in-roads into the mainstream pop audiences. There was some controversy from a segment of fans that felt he was selling out to the secular market. But Smith’s motivation was to get his message out to a wider audience and to help young people who he saw struggling with many important issues.

Throughout the 1990’s more albums were released in addition to another concert video, Change Your World Live, music video singles, and the release of several books.

In 1992, Michael received an honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, West Virginia.

In 1994, Michael founded Rocketown, a club for teenagers, in a warehouse in Brentwood, Tennessee. The club provided a place for teens to gather in a safe, positive, and encouraging environment. The club closed after a few years. The new Rocketown club, a renovated 38,000 square foot warehouse in downtown Nashville, opened in early 2003.

In 1996, Michael, along with Reunion Records executive Don Donahue, founded Rocketown Records. Their initial artist was Chris Rice and over the years their artist roster has included Ginny Owens, Shaun Groves, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and Watermark.

In 1999, Michael was invited to sing at the Columbine Memorial service in Littleton, Colorado. The Columbine High School shootings inspired his album This Is Your Time which is based on the story of Cassie Bernall. In Michael’s own words:

“I went to Littleton (Colorado) to sing Friends at the Columbine Memorial Service and it was a day that impacted me greatly. It was so over-whelming emotionally, that I just had to find a way to cope with it and to digest it all, so I found myself at the keyboard writing music. Meeting Cassie Bernall’s family inspired me the most. Cassie claimed she believed in God and lost her life for it. I have written a song called This Is Your Time which is a challenge for us all to recognize through Cassie’s life, that now is our time to stand up and live life unabashedly for God.”

Also in 1999, Michael and wife Debbie were instrumental in starting New River Fellowship Church. Michael’s Pastor and mentor, Don Finto, helped to provide the new church’s leadership.

In 2000, Michael releases the Freedom album. This instrumental album, recorded in Ireland with the Irish Film Orchestra, included classic piano arrangements.

In 2001, Michael rode the worship wave and created his Worship album, a highly successful and well-received work. A sequel album, Worship Again, and Worship-The Video were released the following year.

In 2002, Michael produced the soundtrack for the motion picture Joshua. Michael’s updated website, Friends Online, was also launched in the fall of 2002.

In 2003, Michael expands his realm of accomplishments by narrating The Gospels Come to Life, which is an audio book featuring the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Also included during the reading is a Smith-inspired musical background scored by Michael Omartian.

Throughout his 20+ year career, Michael has had the opportunity to sing for Presidents, national leaders, community gatherings, memorials, the Billy Graham Crusades, and on national and international television...and his work is not yet done.

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Discography
2014 The Spirit of Christmas
2014 Sovereign
2014 Hymns
2012 Decades of Worship
2011 Glory
2010 Wonder
2008 A New Hallelujah
2007 It’s A Wonderful Christmas
2006 Stand
2004 Healing Rain
2004 Worship Box Set
2003 The Second Decade
2003 The Second Decade Limited Edition
2002 Worship Again
2001 Worship
2001 Devotions
2000 Freedom
2000 The Acoustic Set
1999 This Is Your Time
1998 Christmastime
1998 Love Me Good Maxi-Single
1998 Live the Life
1997 Live the Life Maxi-Single
1995 I’ll Lead You Home
1993 The Wonder Years 1983-1993
1993 First Decade
1992 Change Your World
1990 Go West Young Man
1989 Michael W. Smith Christmas
1988 I 2 Eye
1987 The Live Set
1986 The Big Picture
1984 Michael W. Smith 2
1983 Michael W. Smith Project
For Album Song Listings Click Here

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Grammy Awards  Grammy
2004 Worship Again (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
1995 I’ll Lead You Home (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
1984 Michael W. Smith 2 (Best Gospel Performance Male)

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Grammy Nominations
2007 Stand (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
2005 Healing Rain (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
2003 Worship Again (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
2002 Worship (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
2000 This Is Your Time (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
1998 Live The Life (Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album)
1990 Go West Young Man (Best Pop Gospel Album)
1989 Holy, Holy, Holy (Best Gospel Vocal Performance Male)(Track from Our Hymns, Word Gospel)
1988 i2(Eye) (Best Gospel Performance Male)
1986 The Big Picture (Best Gospel Performance Male)
1983 Michael W. Smith Project (Best Gospel Performance Male)

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Double Platinum Albums
Worship

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Platinum Albums
Worship Again
Worship
Worship - The Video
I’ll Lead You Home
Change Your World
Go West Young Man

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Gold Albums
Christmas
Freedom
Healing Rain
Live In Concert: A 20 Year Celebration
Worship - The Video
Worship Again
Worship
Christmastime
This Is Your Time
Live The Life
I’ll Lead You Home
Change Your World
The First Decade
Go West Young Man
I 2 (EYE)
Michael W. Smith Project

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Videos
2009 A New Hallelujah DVD
2004 Live In Concert: A 20 Year Celebration
2003 Second Decade Limited Edition (included DVD)
2003 Back Stage Pass DVD (Come Together and Worship Tour behind the scenes)
2003 The Bigger Picture DVD
2002 Worship DVD/Video
1999 This Is Your Time Video Collection
1993 Change Your World Live
1987 The Big Picture Tour
1986 Michael W. Smith In Concert
For Video Song Listings Click Here

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Movies
2006 The Second Chance

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Compilation Contributions
2007 Glory Revealed, Come, Worship the King
2003 With Open Hearts Live DVD, I See You
2003 Next Door Savior, All Hail The Power of Jesus Name
2002 WOW Christmas 2002, Emmanuel
2002 Joshua Movie Soundtrack, Love Is Moving
2002 Our God of Wonders: Volume 1, Agnus Dei
2002 Your Love Broke Through, There Is One
2000 Left Behind Movie Soundtrack, Never Been Unloved
2000 Celebrate Freedom, I Still Have The Dream
2000 Roaring Lambs, Out There
1999 A Night In Rocketown, Worship Medley
1998 Awesome God Rich Mullins Tribute, Awesome God
1998 Songs 4 Life: Renew Your Heart!, I’ll Lead You Home
1998 Exodus, Exodus, I See You
1997 God With Us, Anthem for Christmas
1996 Emmanuel, Emmanuel
1995 My Utmost for His Highest, Move In Me
1993 Songs From The Loft, What We’ve Come Here For

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Books
2004 Healing Rain
2004 Signs
2003 The Gospels Come To Life (Audio Book)
2002 The Price of Freedom w/CD
2002 Worship w/CD
2001 I Will Be Your Friend
1999 This Is Your Time
1999 Where’s Whitney
1999 Cooking with Smitty’s Mom
1998 Your Place In This World
1997 It’s Time to Be Told
1997 Friends Are Friends Forever
1997 Old Enough To Know

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Books Contributed To
2003 Come Together and Worship (MWS, Third Day, Max Lucado)
2003 Mission: Africa (MWS contributing author)
2000 The Ragamuffin Gospel (MWS Foreward)
2000 She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall (MWS Afterward)
2000 What’s in the Bible for Teens? (MWS contributing author)

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Other Audio/Video Items
2003 Third Day Live In Concert DVD, interview with Michael W. Smith
2002 There She Stands (promotional single)
1999 This Is Your Time w/bonus track From Here On (Wal-Mart marketed version)
1998 Live the Life w/bonus tracks (Japanese Import)

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Christian Radio #1 Singles
2005 Here I Am
2004 Healing Rain
2003 Lord Have Mercy
2002 Purified
2002 Breathe
2001 Above All
1999 This Is Your Time
1999 Let Me Show You The Way
1998 Missing Person
1998 Never Been Unloved
1998 Love Me Good
1997 Live The Life
1997 Jesus Is The Answer
1996 Breakdown
1996 I’ll Be Around
1996 I’ll Lead You Home
1996 Straight To the Heart
1995 Cry For Love
1993 Picture Perfect
1993 Give It Away
1993 Somebody Love Me
1991 Place In This World
1991 For You
1990 Go West Young Man
1989 The Throne
1988 Pray For Me
1987 Emily
1986 Rocketown
1986 I Know
1983 Great Is The Lord

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Mainstream Radio Chart Makers
1999 This Is Your Time (Top 25 AC R&R)
1999 The Love Of My Life (#7 AC R&R)(with Jim Brickman)
1997 Love Me Good (Top 25 AC R&R)
1996 I’ll Lead You Home (#8 AC Gavin, #24 AC R&R)
1996 Straight To The Heart (Top 25 AC/Gavin)
1995 Cry For Love (#11 AC Gavin)
1993 Somebody Love Me (#9 AC R&R)
1992 I Will Be Here For You (#1 AC R&R, BB Hot 100)
1991 Place In This World (#4 AC R&R, #6 BB HOT 100, #5 Gavin CHR)

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Dove Awards
2013 Best Instrumental Album (Glory)
2009 Praise and Worship Album of the Year (A New Hallelujah)
2009 Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year (A New Hallelujah)
2008 Christmas Album of the Year (It’s a Wonderful Christmas)
2008 Special Event Album of the Year (Glory Revealed)
2003 Artist of the Year
2003 Male Vocalist of the Year
2003 Long Form Music Video of the Year (Worship)
2003 Praise and Worship Album of the Year (Worship Again)
2002 Artist of the Year
2002 Album of the Year (Producer, Artist)(Worship)
2002 Instrumental Album of the Year (Producer, Artist)(Freedom)
2002 Inspirational Recorded Song of the Year (Artist)(Above All)
2001 Youth/Children’s Musical Album of the Year (Artist)(Friends 4 Ever)
2001 Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (Producer, Artist)(This is Your Time)
2000 Song of the Year (Artist)(This is Your Time)
2000 Songwriter of the Year
2000 Short Form Music Video of the Year (artist)(This is Your Time)
1999 Artist of the Year
1999 Producer of the Year
1999 Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (Producer, Artist)(Live the Life)
1999 Special Event Album of the Year (Artist)(Exodus)
1998 Special Event Album of the Year (Artist)(God With Us - A Celebration of Christmas Carols and Classics)
1998 Children’s Music Album of the Year (Artist)(Sing Me to Sleep Daddy)
1997 Special Event Album of the Year (Artist)(Tribute The Songs of Andre Crouch)
1996 Songwriter of the Year
1996 Special Event Album of the Year (Artist)(My Utmost For His Highest)
1995 Music Album of the Year (Artist)(Living on the Edge)
1994 Praise and Worship Album of the Year (Artist)(Songs From the Loft)
1992 Song of the Year (Artist)(Place in this World)
1992 Musical Album of the Year (Artist)(The Big Picture)
1992 Choral Collection of the Year (Artist)(The Michael W. Smith Collection)
1991 Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (Producer, Artist)(Go West Young Man)
1990 Short Form Music Video of the Year (Artist)(I Miss the Way)
1988 Long Form Music Video of the Year (Artist)(The Big Picture Tour Video)
1987 Pop/Contemporary Album of the Year (Producer, Artist)(The Big Picture)
1985 Songwriter of the Year

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Television Appearances
CNN Larry King Live
Hannity and Colmes
44th Annual Grammy Telecast
The Tonight Show
Good Morning America
CBS This Morning
Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee
The View
Grammy Awards
Christmas In Washington
American Music Awards
Kathie Lee Gifford Christmas Special
1998 Miss America Pageant
Entertainment Tonight
CNN Showbiz Tonight
CNN WorldBeat
Billy Graham World Television Series
VH-1 Coverage
Top 21 Countdown Host
Inside Music
The 700 Club
The Hour of Power
Columbine High School Memorial Service

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Other Achievements
* Co-writer of Come Together Now benefit song for survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

* Gospel Music Association (GMA) Seminar in the Rockies Summit Award given to Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Smith’s award read “For 20 years of outstanding achievement as a songwriter and artist, and for your vision and example in impacting the culture for Christ.”

* Michael W. Smith goes across the Atlantic Ocean with his Summer 2003 European tour including nine shows in these countries: Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

* Michael W. Smith, Third Day, and Special Guest Max Lucado participate in the unprecedented Come Together And Worship Tour in the Fall of 2002. The tour had 16 dates with over 180,000 people in attendance and 10 sold out shows.

* The Worship Again album debuts at #14 on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart. The original Worship album is at #100 on the chart, marking the first time Michael W. Smith has had two albums on the chart at the same time.

* Michael W. Smith is a Performer and a Presenter on the 44th Annual Grammy Awards show.

* The Worship album, released on 9/11/2001, is RIAA certified platinum. It is the best selling album in Christian retail - 2001 and 2002.

* This Is your Time generated the highest first-week sales for a recording by a Christian artist in the history of SoundScan.

* I’ll Lead You Home shipped Gold and is certified RIAA in two months, making an unprecedented Christian debut at #16 on Billboard’s Top 200 Chart.

* Michael W. Smith performed at the 54th Presidential Inaugural Prayer Service in 2001.

* Michael W. Smith performed at the National Day of Prayer in 2001.

* Michael W. Smith receives the ASCAP “Golden Note” Award in 1999.

* Friends is named the #1 Song of all Time by CCM Magazine 20th Anniversary Issue in 1999.

* Michael W. Smith receives the Nashville Music Award for the Pop Album, I’ll Lead You Home.

* Michael W. Smith receives the American Music Awards “Favorite New Artist, Adult Contemporary”.

* Michael W. Smith is the National Spokesperson for Compassion International.

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