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Michael W. Smith exclusive interview

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Michael W. Smith is perhaps one of the biggest artists in Christian music history who continues to inspire generations with the message in his music. Smith or 'Smitty' as his close friends call him, recently celebrated his 56th birthday and yet continues to be passionate and full of life as he's ever been. With no shred of hesitation he speaks very candidly about the things that have forever changed his life. Smitty took some time to talk about his family, singing to Billy Graham for his birthday, the upcoming album and life on the current 'Worship Around The World' tour.

Smitty doesn't seem to hold anything back as he offers his most devoted fans the opportunity to spend the weekend with his family and getting to know him personally, and creating connections with strangers that will last a lifetime. Still he feels very blessed and grateful for everything and everyone who is placed in his path. Every day with every sense of his being and with ever so much urgency, the man is driven by getting his message out there. Smitty’s heart is the message of hope and redemption that is poured out with every note that is played, and every song that is sung. Smitty wants people to know that God is absolutely crazy about them, and wants to know them in a personal way.

Shannon: Congratulations on your recent Dove Award for ‘Glory’

Michael: Thank you I appreciate that, this was a very special record for me, it was one of the most emotional ones I have done. It was just a great experience, I’m honored, I’m grateful that they voted for me I never expect to win any of those, so when I do win, it’s a shock.

Shannon: Well that album is amazing!

Michael: Well thank you I appreciate that, very much.

Shannon: Can you talk about the Worship Around The World tour?

Michael: It’s been an amazing tour it’s been going on for almost a year and half, I don’t usually say this, but everyone thinks that I’m gone all the time, I really haven’t been, I’m never gone for more than two weeks, ever, it’s kind of been my rule for my family. It’s been amazing, we’ve been everywhere but China and Russia- Zambian, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Australia, Latvia, Iceland, Budapest, It’s just been an incredible run. We are wrapping it up here in the Northeast and we got about 11 shows left. We thought let’s end the tour back in the states and that is what we are doing.

Shannon: It’s got to be absolutely mind blowing to get to see what God is doing overseas!

Michael: It is! I just got through playing in the Middle East, I mean I played Bahrain! Bahrain, I don’t think there has ever been a faith based concert there, ever, it was sold out, gosh it was really emotional, I just cried every night just seeing the hand of God on this whole thing, so much favor, it’s just amazing it really is, especially with the worship stuff, somehow that worship album, the first two especially just sort of found their way all around the world, so they sing every word to every song, and sometimes in their own language.

Shannon: That is incredible! Now you are out with Jason Crabb, hows that going?

Michael: Yeah, Jason is out with me, we’ve never toured together, man what a singer, oh my gosh! This guy is unbelievable! great heart. It’s really good to have him out; he’s really happy, he thanks me every day He’s (chuckles) like a little kid at Christmas time, it’s so funny he thanks me all the time. Quite the talent, I sure wish I could sing like him, he’s got quite the pipes for sure!

Shannon: What would you say has been the shining moment on the tour so far?

Michael: I’m working on my 25th album with all these kids, and I’m old enough to be their dad it’s so funny, sort of reinventing myself again really excited about this record, going way above my expectations, being able to play some of the songs and having them respond. That’s a real highlight to see if it’s going to connect or not, and then the other moment would be when we do Agnus Dei, there’s something about that song, and it sort of takes on a life of its own and every night it’s always different. I’m very grateful.

Shannon: How did you write the song ‘Take Me Home?’

Michael: That song was inspired by many conversations with Billy in his home in the last four or five years I would go visit him often and we would talk about the kids and family and then he just always tells me, ‘You know I just want to go home’, ‘I’m ready to go home’ and my response has always been, well yeah, but I kinda wanna keep you around!, you know he just longs for heaven and when this whole project came on the table and I was going to write a song around the My Hope project, I decided that I was going to write a song based on those conversations I had with Billy, and that’s what I did, I brought in a great writer named Dean Glover, and just fully explained to him the conversations we had together and I said I think it needs to be called ‘Take Me Home.’ I think when you hear the lyric you can kind of get a picture of this is Billy talking to Jesus, and wondering what it’s like to get his feet on the streets of gold, and ready to come home. It was a great experience writing that song, knowing it was written out of those conversations.

Shannon: Has Billy heard that song yet?

Michael: I’m not sure if he’s heard it, I’m going to play it for him on the piano on his birthday, not the version that is on the record, as he has a hard time hearing, and I think the best the thing to do is to play it for him live. That’s what I would like to do.

Shannon: You recently celebrated your 56th birthday, happy birthday!

Michael: Yeah man, I’m feeling great, I feel awesome! Not sure I’ve actually felt better, been working out, keep fit, choose joy every day, the kids are great, my wife is amazing, all these blessings in your life, makes life pretty rich, you know? Things are really good!

Shannon: What inspired you to do the Michael W. Smith and friends Tennessee weekend?

Michael: It all started with the cruise back in 2006-2007, I took a bunch of fans on a boat to Alaska and realized that they weren’t just fans, but they were a church, and we all got real close, so after three cruises we decided we were going to do a land based cruise. They don’t have to get on a boat and that we would just invite people to my home town, and we’ve done that twice, we did it this summer, with a big success and we did it two years ago, it was awesome, just so good.

Now we are gearing up to go back to Alaska in July 2014. I didn’t think I would like that sort of thing, I actually really do, and I’ve gotten close with some of those people. Knowing that these people have gotten to know these people because they got on a boat or they came to my hometown. Now when somebody gets sick they got these people praying for them, going to visit them that they would not have even known each other had they not come to my hometown or got on my boat. It’s just a sweet little church is what I call it. It’s really been beautiful, and to know all these people that pray for me all the time, oh my gosh! And now we do this thing and I find out about all these people who love me so much and pray for me on a daily basis. It's great!

Shannon: You’re working on a new album slated for release 2014 can you talk about that?

Michael: Thrilled about it! Working with all these young kids, all these young producers, (Ha!) I’m old enough to be their dad, I’m doing something I’ve never done before, it’s been awesome, we’ve raised the bar really high, I’ve listened to 110 songs and I have 7! Just trying to find songs that are ethic and really great, we’re getting there, if I can stay on schedule, which I think I can, that record’s coming out in April of 2014. We’re excited, trying some of these songs live, which has really been good, getting people’s feedback; it’s very exciting for sure.

Smitty brings his tour to St. Paul, Minnesota at the Xcel Energy Center, December 7, which he will perform holiday classics and hits. Third Day and American Idol top 3 finalist, Angie Miller are tour support.

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