Christian music artist Smith seeks to disarm


After almost 30 years of songwriting that comprises 17 studio albums and more than 40 awards, including three Grammys, Michael W. Smith says he has nothing left to prove.


But that doesn't mean one of the world's most well-known Christian songwriters has lost any of the passion that led him to start writing songs so long ago and eventually led to his performing his unique brand of adult contemporary music for audiences all over the world.

"I just sing my songs, but I think the biggest thing that I do that's probably the most effective is I just disarm everybody," Smith said in a phone interview, noting that he often starts shows by walking in from the back of a room and shaking hands with his audience. "It's not like, 'here comes the rock star.' It's like, 'here I come. I'm just one of you.' "

The 53-year-old Nashville native's Wonder, Worship and Blessings tour will make a stop at Millbrook Baptist Church in Aiken at 7 p.m. Friday for An Evening With Michael W. Smith. Smith says if he's ever performed in the Augusta area before, it's been a "very, very long time."

He says he's enjoyed this tour, and it offers him more flexibility than a larger venue. "What I love about this is it's kind of an unplugged night," Smith says. "I like these intimate settings. You've got a song list and more than likely I won't stick to it."

The winner of 36 Dove Awards from the Gospel Music Association says he's still honing his craft and feels like his best work is yet to come. He wants to continue to grow, even though he admits his new directions haven't always worked.

"I think you have to reinvent and you've got to keep your ear to the ground and experiment and take risks," Smith says.

Part of that reinvention has been in his interaction with fans through social media. Smith didn't think he'd ever be "a Twitter guy," but now he's got an account where he posts details of his life he thinks people might find interesting. Last week, he tweeted a photo of his grandson because "the kid is so cute I couldn't help it."

But Smith says despite all the changes in his career and the turmoil in the music industry as CD sales have plummeted and major labels have struggled to maintain their earnings, the value of a live show remains irreplaceable

That's why in 2010, he went on an arena tour with Amy Grant, who he credits for helping launch his career in 1981. The two traveled to four continents to play 98 shows in 12 countries to promote his newest album, Wonder . Smith says the tour got such a positive response the pair will start another one in September.

It's that same appreciation for his fans that explains why, out of all his awards, the one that's most memorable for Smith is his 1992 American Music Award. Unlike the Dove and Grammy awards, which he said can be political, the AMAs are voted on by the fans.

In concert

WHO: Michael W. Smith

WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Millbrook Baptist Church, 223 South Aiken Blvd. S.E., Aiken

COST: $23; $18 groups of 10 or more; $45 VIP tickets (early entry, preferred seating and Q&A session with Smith; call 1-866-440-7880 to order)

LEARN MORE: Call the church at (803) 648-4167 or WAFJ-FM (88.3) at (803) 819-3125