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Michael W. Smith          

Grammy Award Winning Christian Artist, Best Selling Author, Actor

A sister named Kim would follow. Michael was a typical boy - active in baseball, his family's church activities, and playing piano. But in not-so-typical fashion, he wrote his first song at age five. At the age of ten, he made a decision to give his life to Christ. He dreamed of playing professional baseball.

Michael attended college at Marshall University in West Virginia but after one semester dropped out to move to Nashville and pursue a career in music. (Side note trivia: In 1992 Michael received an honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, West Virginia.)

In 1982, Michael was asked to play keyboards in a band that was backing up young artist Amy Grant. He also continued to write songs for himself. The story goes that Amy's managers, Mike Blanton and Dan Harrell could not find a Christian record label that would sign Michael or a young New Yorker named Kathy Troccoli. Believing so much in these two young talents, they started Reunion Records.

Michael made his very first record in 1983 and it was called Michael W. Smith Project. Michael wrote all the music and wife Debbie wrote the lyrics. The now famous song "Friends" debuted on this album. Michael continued to tour with Amy, now as her opening act.

In the midst of 18 albums and ten books as well as the awards (Dove awards and Grammy awards among them), Michael and Debbie were blessed with five children: Ryan, Whitney, Tyler, Emily and Anna.

In 1994, Michael founded a teen club called Rocketown in an effort to provide a place for teens to gather in a safe, loving environment. A warehouse in the Cool Springs area of Brentwood, TN was converted into a dance floor, rooms with pool tables and a coffeehouse. After three years, the club closed. The leadership continued to build a ministry devoted to kids, and a new site in downtown Nashville that reopened in 2003. Visit Rocketown at www.rcktwn.com.

In 1996, Michael founded Rocketown Records with Reunion executive Don Donahue and launched their first artist, Chris Rice. Michael and Don shared a dream to be part of a label where great songs were the focus, where artists, not acts, were developed. They wanted a label that felt like a family. And what a family it is! Go to www.rocketownrecords.com  to learn more!

In 1999, a prayer group of Michael and Debbie's that had been meeting at their farm, had blossomed into what they felt had become a church body. Gathering up some leadership, Michael and Debbie helped start New River Fellowship with close leadership by Pastor and mentor Don Finto, former senior pastor of Nashville's Belmont Church where Michael and Debbie had attended for many years.

Throughout his career, Michael has had the opportunity to sing for Presidents and national leaders, and counts among his friends the Reverend Billy Graham and his son, Franklin Graham. He is active in Billy Graham Crusades as well as The Samaritan's Purse, the ministry headed by Franklin Graham. In addition, Michael W. Smith has been named by the White House to serve a two-year term as a member of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. Smith joins a high-power group of leaders who represent the private and non-profit sectors, government, entertainment, education and athletics. While the backgrounds of each member are varied, they each share a deep commitment to strengthening the culture of volunteer service in America.

But for all of Michael's accolades, for his involvement in his teen outreach Rocketown, leadership in his local church body, the business of being an artist, an author and a record label executive, Michael sums up his life as this, "to be remembered as a God-fearing man who loved his wife and kids well."

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