Michael W. Smith Dishes On Performing At Celebrity Fight Night & His Proudest Moment As A Musician

With 35 number one hits, three Grammy Awards, 45 Dove Awards, an American Music Award and selling more than 15 million albums to his credit, Michael W. Smith will be honored in a few weeks in Nashville at a star-studded tribute concert featuring everyone from Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys to Vince Gill.  This weekend, he’ll be performing at the 25th Celebrity Fight Night hosted by Reba McEntire to benefit the Alzheimer’s and Memory Disorders Program at Barrow Neurological Institute.

Throughout his career, Smith continues to give back to the global community whether it’s by raising funds to battle AIDS in Africa alongside longtime friend Bono, creating Rocketown, a safe haven for young people in Tennessee to meet and find hope, or helping more than 70,000 children’s lives through Compassion International.

We just caught up with Smith to get the inside scoop on this weekend’s Celebrity Fight Night, and find out what has been his proudest moment as a musician.

You’ll be performing at the Celebrity Fight Night this weekend.  Can you give us a little preview?

I was fortunate to be a part of the CFN event in Italy a few months ago and it was amazing.  Incredible artists, Italian hospitality (which is to say, some of the best food you can imagine), breathtaking scenery and venues – I could go on and on.  Basically, it’s what you would expect when Andrea Bocelli throws a party! I’m extremely honored that they’ve invited me to be a part of this great event in Phoenix, too.  Wonderful people and a great cause.

Tell us about your recently released “AWAKEN: The Surrounded Experience.”

Well, the Surrounded concert we did at Bridgestone Arena was a life-changing moment for me.  You just hope and pray that when you bring cameras and recording equipment into the picture – that you don’t mess it up.  And that you somehow actually capture the moment. To be honest, there were no plans to release an audio version.  It was shot for TV and we thought that would be its only use, but when we started mixing down the audio, it was obvious to all of us that we had captured something special.

What was it like to be able to perform at your dear friend President George H.W. Bush’s funeral service?

I lost two very dear friends recently, Billy Graham and President Bush.  Literally, two of the very finest people I have ever known. Even this far removed from the days of those services, it’s still very emotional for me to talk about it.  I’m just glad I was able to pay tribute to them through my music.

You’ve had an incredible career in the music industry with 35 number one hits. How does it feel to reflect back on all of your accomplishments?

I don’t look back a lot.  I’m the kind of guy that is always running forward.  So, when we talk about my career, in a way it almost feels like we’re talking about someone else. But let me say that I am extremely grateful. For whatever reason, God has given me favor and has let me do some unique things. I’ve learned that awards and number ones don’t bring peace, it’s all about your relationship to the One who made you, and then using that platform to make the world a better place.

Tell us a little about your work with Compassion International.

I firmly believe that “to whom much is given – much is required.” Compassion and Rocketown are ways for me to give back.  At one time or another, all of us need a hand up.  Kids helped by Compassion are born into poverty, and a lot of the kids that come to Rocketown are poor in opportunity.  I think it’s our responsibility, as believers, to stand in the gap.  None of us will ever regret the time we spend helping others.

You have said music is “the most powerful language there is.” What has been one of your proudest moments as a musician?

Probably when you get a letter from someone who was, maybe in a desperate situation, maybe they were going to take their own life and they hear a song – and it changes everything.  I received a letter from a young woman who said she was in her car, driving to a remote place where she was going to take her life.  PLACE IN THIS WORLD came on the radio and she pulled over and began to weep. She knew at that moment that God was speaking to her through that song. She’s alive today and thriving.

Next month, you’ll be honored at a star-studded tribute concert at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville featuring everyone from Amy Grant and Randy Travis to Vince Gill and Rascal Flatts. How does that feel?

To be 100 percent honest, I was a bit taken back by it all!  It’s not something I planned or asked for, but it’s happening and I’m just rolling with it!  Seriously though, I am extremely honored and very humbled. I’ll do my best to hold it together. I know it’s going to be an amazing night, one that I’ll never forget!  I’m blessed beyond measure.