Michael W. Smith, who casually refers to himself as “Smitty,” is considered a superstar in the world of Christian music. Throughout his career, the singer-songwriter has won three Grammy Awards and more than 40 Dove Awards. GetOut chatted with him this week ahead of his Jan. 11 stop at Celebrity Theatre.
Q: What’s at the forefront of your mind each time you sit down to write a new album?
MW: I first pray for divine intervention, because it’s all about the song. Great songs are hard to write. I put my hands on the piano and hope that it’s magical—something you can’t get out of your head.
Q: How does your faith impact your art?
MW: My faith is at the center of everything that I am. I write everything from a spiritual point of view, and I view life that way. My faith centers me, and I write out of an honest place. I can’t imagine it not being that way. Whether it’s my family or I find myself in interesting places, meeting presidents to prime ministers to orphans. It’s been quite a journey to have the inspiration I have had, to see the rich and the poor and everything in between.
Q: Speaking of those presidents and world leaders, has playing for them influenced your art in any way?
MW: It’s inspired some songs. ‘There She Stands’ was inspired by a conversation I had with George W. Bush. Because you know this person and hear somebody’s story and hear someone else’s journey, I’m sure some of that filters back into my creative madness. You’re inspired by life in general. Who knows what pieces from the Oval Office to an orphanage in Kenya have inspired my art.
Q: You released a new song, ‘You Won’t Let Go,' on radio this month. Tell us about the full album due out later this spring. How does this album differ from ‘Glory’?
MW: It’s a pop record. ‘Glory’ is an instrumental record with me playing a piano in London. This (new album) is back to pop Smitty. It’s kind of a worship record, but I have such a different interpretation of worship — I believe it’s a lifestyle. I started working with people I never worked with before. It’s been a big step of faith for me. Now I’m working with all these young kids — it’s been a good, good thing. ‘You Won’t Let Go,’ has been getting good buzz. The (full) record comes out May 13.
I’m also making a hymns record exclusively for Cracker Barrel and am having a blast. I grew up in a Baptist church, and I picked my favorite 13-14 hymns. That comes out in stores March 24.
IF YOU GO
What: Michael W. Smith performs in Phoenix
When: 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 11
Where: Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., Phoenix
Information: (602) 267-1600 or CelebrityTheatre.com