Michael W Smith: Renewed and Ready
By Robert Hull - an interview with Scott Ross
The 700 Club
Michael W Smith is one of Christian music’s most celebrated artists. His new album, A New Hallelujah, is a moving worship CD that further expands his extensive library of music and worship. He was recently honored for his 25 years in Christian music and his impact on the world through his charitable service. Scott Ross had a chance to sit down with him and talk about his career, service and future in music and worship.
Scott: 21 albums, 25 years and I want to know where the other four albums are.
Michael: What a great run, and I’m just, I pinch myself actually.
Scott: Are you surprised that it’s been able to last and be maintained and even moved to other levels?
Michael: There’s a lot of optimism in my life, probably more optimistic now than I ever have been. Maybe my greatest work is ahead, and I say that with all humility. So, I sort of have this new lease on life and I think a lot of that has to do with, at least for me, just coming to know who I am, and it’s not about me. You finally start to figure out what it’s really all about, and then you’re really more free to really create.
Scott: A few years ago your music took a shift.
Michael: I had a, sort of, a big argument with God about that first worship album. I said I would do it. Then I said I wouldn’t do it. Then I said I’d do it. Then the third time it was like 3:00 a.m.; I usually don’t wake up in the middle of the night, but it was sort of like (pointing) for such a time as this - this is the record you’re to do. It was just something I just felt compelled to do, and more than anything, I felt like it’s really what God wanted me to do.
Scott: Did you lose your audience, gain an audience, both?
Michael: I think I did both. At the end of the day I just got to go, just do, what you feel compelled to do and just go for it. And, A New Hallelujah, if you want to call it the third installment of the more sort of vertical - this thing was done in Houston with 12,000 people. It was an amazing night and I couldn’t be happier with it. I think it really turned out well.
Scott: Do you see it having an impact in broader culture, the worship genre, the worship music itself?
Michael: We’ve got to disciple people and really let people know what resonates with the heart of God. We can sing worship songs till we’re blue, but if we’re not feeding the orphans and taking care of widows and the kid who’s got the drug addiction down the block; if we’re not taking care of those people, then we’ve totally missed it. I have to make sure when people are going ‘oh we love worship, we love worship,’ are you feeding the poor?
Scott: When you get up there in front of them and you sing and play do you call them up to anything?
Michael: The number one thing that I want to convey is that they’ll get the revelation that God not only loves them, but actually likes them and is very fond of them. That’s my prayer every night - is this massive revelation comes to people and the light bulb goes off. I’ll never forget when it went off for me, and it rocked my world and I’ve never been the same since.
Michael’s popularity with his music has opened up doors of political influence as well. He has been given an audience with President Bush
He and Bono, from the group u2, worked together to bring financial aid and awareness to the fight against AIDS in South Africa.
Michael: You know I sort of teamed up with Bono because this was an emergency and he had a plan; and it was a good plan. And the plan was really, just rally the troops. Look, we just can’t turn our backs on what’s going on over there.
Scott: Your best days are ahead of you, and you look back on what you’ve done; it’s like the Lord coming to Solomon, ‘ok, go ahead, what do you want?’
Michael: I just want to make the record of a lifetime; tap into something that is not just me sitting down at the piano going, ‘I wonder what the next big pop melody is?’ Not just trying to write a pop song or trying to write a worship song; but a serious download from God, creatively - that’s something that’s never been done before.
Scott: Let me provoke you with a good Bible verse. This is Isaiah 42:10 and it comes from the Hebrew and the whole sense of what God is saying to Isaiah the prophet, God speaking, said this, ‘I’m going to bring forth a new song that’s never been heard in the heathen world.’
Michael: We’ll I’d like to claim that verse (laughing).
Scott: Good, do it, because that’s what you’re saying, that’s exactly what you’re saying.
Michael: You know, that’s really what A New Hallelujah is about a bit, going, ’let the world sing a new song. Arise, let the church arise! Let love reach to the other side.’ How do we sing a new song? Maybe that’s just the beginning of something that’s going to happen. But, if it’s not me, if it’s somebody else, then so be it - but if it’s me, I would love the privilege and the honor of doing it.
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