Michael W. SmithMichael W. Smith remembers well the time in his life when drifting, drugs, and depression sent his knees, and the rest of his body, down to the ground. "I was curled up like a baby on my kitchen floor and cried for hours," says Michael in a CCM interview. "At the end of the whole thing . . . I just felt like the weight of the world came off my shoulders. I felt like God showed up in my kitchen, and I just felt like, 'Okay, this is the turning point . . . Lord, I'm going to live my life for you.'" Ever since that incident nearly 20 years ago, Michael -- one of Christian music's most celebrated artists -- has been living a life dedicated to the service of Christ.
Michael Whitaker Smith was raised in Kenova, West Virginia -- population 5,000. His first love was baseball. His father had played in the minor leagues, and Michael wanted to play professional ball. Music and piano came next. In September of 1978, Michael packed his bags and took off for Nashville to find a place in the music business. He also found drugs and alcohol. And his parents prayed. Prayed that he would hear the voice of God saying, "I'll lead you home." That's how he ended up crying, and changed, on the kitchen floor.
In September 1980, he signed his first publishing contract with Reunion Records. His songs have been recorded by Sandi Patty, Amy Grant, Kathy Triccoli, Bill Gaither, Larnelle Harris, and, of course, Michael W. Smith. He has won an American Music Award, two Grammy Awards, nine Dove Awards, and been named one of the world's "50 Most Beautiful People" by People magazine. His hits have topped both the Christian and pop radio play charts, and three of his projects are among Billboard magazine's Top 25 contemporary Christian albums of all time.
Now, on the heels of his work with the Billy Graham Crusades and the What Would Jesus Do? youth movement, Michael has released his new Live the Life album. The songs, delivered in a more aggressive style, with an edgier punch than his previous I'll Lead You Home album, challenge listeners to strengthen their commitment to Christ-like living. Sometimes that's the way it happens -- Christ gently says, "I'll lead you home," and then he challenges you to "live the life."
Michael and his wife, Debbie -- she wrote the words for the perennial favorite "Friends" from his first album -- have been married for 17 years. They have five children and live on a 200-acre spread of pastures, hayfields, and woods in Tennessee.