Gospel singer Michael W. Smith is an inspiring man—both on and off the stage.
Not only has this artist and philanthropist had over 35 No. 1 hits but Smith is also adamant about using his platform to improve global issues. We sat down with the Grammy Award winner to get an inside look into his very special 35 Years of Friends tour.
Marika Flatt: I became a fan in the ‘80s because the summer camp I attended would play your song “Friends” at the final ceremony. It was a very special song because the words so accurately described how we felt. Did you have any initial plans for this song before it was released and how did you feel about it becoming a summer camp anthem?
Michael W. Smith: I just knew that I wanted to record it on the first album after I wrote it with my wife, Debbie. I didn’t know I was going to get to sing it for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for how it has connected with so many people all around the world.
MF: 35 seems like a special number for you this year: 35th anniversary of “Friends” and also you’ve had 35 No. 1 hits! To what do you contribute your staying power in this new world of music?
MWS: I would say probably reinventing yourself… And still staying true to who you are.
MF: Your music involves a worship component. Do you see yourself performing to a specific audience, or do you have folks show up for your shows representing all types of faiths and belief systems?
MWS: Fortunately, I’ve been able to do a lot of different things. From writing cinematic music to leading worship; and I’ve also been doing pop for all these years. At the end of the day, I think people show up because they have been changed by many of the songs, they are encouraged… and they want to hear them again.
MF: There’s no opening act for this big fall tour. Tell us your expectation of being able to focus more time with your fans.
MWS: Well, the opening act is me… And I’ve never done a tour like this, ever. But I am certainly enjoying it… It’s a lot of work, but worth it all. My expectations? That the audience would be engaged and changed on some level that evening.
MF: You have 208K followers on Instagram; 2.3 million people following your Facebook page and over 565K followers on Twitter. Social media wasn’t around when you became popular decades ago. What does it mean for you to reach fans through social platforms now, and are you able to keep up with that on your own?
MWS: Social media is a pretty amazing thing. How you can connect with people in an instant. I do mainly personal posts… and receive help from my team as well.
Friday Oct 18: Austin, LifeAustin Amphitheatre
Saturday Oct 19: San Antonio, Charline McCombs Empire Theatre
Friday Nov 1: Arlington, Arlington Music Hall
Saturday Nov 2: El Paso, Magoffin Auditorium
Cover: Michael W. Smith and his wife of 37 years, Deborah. Photo Kurt Heinecke