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Michael W. Smith


Gospel musician Michael Whitaker Smith, was born October 7, 1957, in Kenova and was educated at Ceredo-Kenova High School. He briefly attended Marshall University before moving to Nashville to pursue a music career. He wrote songs for Paragon-Benson Publishing Company before recording his first album, The Michael W. Smith Project, in 1983.

The song, ‘‘Place in this World,’’ from a 1990 album, hit the gospel music top ten, helping Smith win New Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards in 1990. In 1992, he received an honorary doctorate of music degree from Alderson-Broaddus College. Smith founded Rocketown Ministries in 1994, and, two years later, Rocketown Records. In 1998, the contemporary Christian music magazine, CCM, named Smith’s ‘‘Friends’’ the number-one song of all time. In 2001, Smith performed at the presidential inaugural prayer service and at the National Day of Prayer. In 2002, he provided the musical score for the motion picture, Joshua. He appeared in another movie, The Second Chance, in 2006.

The singer, songwriter, and producer has written several books and appeared on numerous national television programs. Smith has been a spokesperson for Compassion International and active in Billy Graham Crusades and Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry headed by Graham’s son, Franklin.

As of 2011, Smith had recorded 22 albums. He has had 28 Number One songs and three platinum albums. He has won the Nashville Music Award for pop album and ASCAP’s Golden Note Award, as well as three Grammy Awards and 44 Dove Awards. He became a Distinguished West Virginian in 2003, and he was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2018.

He and his wife, Debbie, have five children.

Written by Russ Barbour