The multiplatinum artist talks about the recent tribute concert, 35 Years of Friends: Celebrating the Music of Michael W. Smith.
The multiplatinum artist, bestselling author, and actor Michael W. Smith has built an empire in country and Christian music. With 15 albums, three Grammy Awards, 45 Dove Awards, and an American Music Award, his dynamic career has been one of the most influential of his generation.
To celebrate his contributions to the industry, fellow artists paid homage with the tribute concert 35 Years of Friends: Celebrating the Music of Michael W. Smith.
Recently we talked with Smith about his career and the star-studded tribute.
Cowboys & Indians: Congratulations on your star-studded tribute concert. What do you hope your fans took from it?
Michael W. Smith: Well, I certainly hope it was a beautiful journey down memory lane for many of the fans; it certainly was for me. I will never forget it.
C&I: What’s the journey of your 35-year-long career been like?
Smith: A dream come true honestly. I never could’ve orchestrated any of this living the dream … and I’m still believing that the best days are ahead.
C&I: What has been your proudest achievement?
Smith: Surviving success.
C&I: How did this concert differ from your others?
Smith: This was a first for sure. To actually sit on the stage and listen to all these amazing artists sing your songs, it was very emotional to say the least.
C&I: So many performers were included in your concert, including Amy Grant, Brian Littrell from the Backstreet Boys, Rascal Flatts, Scott Hamilton, Vince Gill, and many more. What was that like?
Smith: Very surreal, knowing that many of these artists grew up on my music. I was pretty much in the dark on what was going happen that night. I knew who was coming, but not sure who was going to sing certain songs. I think the magic of the night is seeing multiple artists being on stage at the same time singing your songs.
C&I: Is there a specific song of yours that you feel your fans have really taken to?
Smith: The song “Friends” has been a mainstay for sure. I wrote it almost 36 years ago, and little did I know that I would have to sing it for the rest of my entire life. In some ways, there’s nothing spectacular about it. But the simplicity of it, and I think what it says, married to a simple melody, it somehow has resonated with so many. Knowing that, every night when I look at people’s faces and see how they respond, I never get tired of singing it.
C&I: What musicians and songs have been influential for you?
Smith: I grew up on Elton John and the Beatles. I am a huge Andre Crouch fan. And my favorite composer is John Williams.
C&I: What’s on your playlist these days?
Smith: John Williams, Zedd, Axwell, Sigrid, Dirty Loops, Switchfoot, just to name a few.
C&I: What’s something about you that people don’t know or are surprised to learn?
Smith: I am both an introvert and extrovert.
C&I: What can we expect next?
Smith: I am in the process of creating something that I have never done before. I love adventure [and] really believe that my best days are ahead. I am grateful!
"35 Years Of Friends: Celebrating The Music Of Michael W. Smith" full setlist:
Phil Keaggy, Mac Powell, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Point of Grace - “Agnus Dei”
Jason Crabb – “Love Crusade”
Ricky Skaggs with The Isaacs – “I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Zach Williams – “I’ll Stand”
David Hamilton – Instrumental
David Hamilton, Jordin Sparks, Jordan Smith – “All is Well”
Matthew West – “Go West”
Charlie Daniels – “How Great Thou Art”
Charlie Daniels with Michael W. Smith – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
Jars of Clay – “I’ll Lead You Home”
Rascal Flatts – “Pray for Me”
Avalon with Jay DeMarcus – “I Will Be Here”
Mark Lowry – “Face in This World”
Gatlin Brothers with Phillips, Craig & Dean – “Shine On Us”
Sandi Patty and Natalie Grant – “How Majestic”
Jim Brickman – “Love of My Life”
Michael W. Smith with original band – “Could He Be Messiah,” “Be Strong,” “You Need a Savior”
Randy Travis and Steven Curtis Chapman – “Above All”
Lee Greenwood with Wes King and sons – “There She Stands”
Brian Littrell – “Place in This World”
Michael W. Smith – “Secret Ambition”
Oak Ridge Boys – “Draw Me Close”
Nicole C. Mullen, Danny Gokey, Katinas, Matthew Ward, Calvin Nowell – “Crown Him with Many Crowns, ” “Easter Song”
CeCe Winans with Point of Grace – “King of Glory”
Matt Maher – “This is Your Time”
Laura Story with Francesca Battistelli – “How to Say Goodbye”
Russ Taff – “Healing Rain”
Wayne Kirkpatrick with Vince Gill – “Never Been Unloved”
Mark Hall – “I’m Waiting on You”
Tait, Matt Maher, Avalon, Wynonna, CeCe Winans – “Help Is on the Way”
Wynonna – “Majesty”
Amy Grant with Michael W. Smith – “Love Will Find a Way,” “Thy Word”
All sing including T. Graham Brown – “Friends”
For more information on Michael W. Smith, visit his website.