Nov 3, 2009

Michael W. Smith World Tour: A New Hallelujah

by Amanda Baker and Amanda Sullivan

Stacey, who received his masters in counseling from the Liberty Online program, opened the concert, followed by Andrews and Maher. Each artist sang a set ranging from three to five songs.
After a brief intermission, Smith started the second half of the concert on a high-energy note with “Dancing in the River.” His interaction with the audience included running down to the front row to a group of girls, who were more than happy to invite him into their celebration of the music.

In an attempt to “marry past and present,” Smith took the audience on a journey down memory lane, performing classic hits such as “Draw Me Close,” “A Place in this World” and “Friends.” As Smith’s band began to play the first few notes of “Friends,” the audience responded enthusiastically.

“I’m glad you like this song,” Smith said. “I guess I’ll play it for you — for the 4,000th time.”

As “Friends” came to a close, 314 Center for Worship (CFW) students, clad in white dress shirts and jeans, filed down the balcony stairs on either side of the auditorium and took their places on opposite sides of the stage. They helped Smith lead the worship segment of the concert, singing “Mighty to Save,” “Above All,” “Your Grace” and “Healing Rain.”

“(Singing with Smith) was incredible,” junior Brittany Whyte said. “It was the most exhilarating experience of my life.”

Smith’s main message of the night was the grace of God, the realization of which was one of the greatest things that happened to him, besides his salvation.

“Satan’s number one attack is, ‘Look how much baggage you have,’” Smith said. “I remember one day when I could feel God speaking to my spirit, saying, ‘Michael, I love you, I like you and I am extremely fond of you.’ Just know that you are loved, and (God) wants to be your daddy.”

Earlier in the day, Smith hosted a question-and-answer session with the Center for Worship students in David’s Place. Smith came with “no agenda” in mind except to worship with the students and encourage them in their future dreams, and willingly obliged when students asked him to play specific songs. The impromptu performance included a mix of old and new “Smitty” favorites, including “Healing Rain,” “Place in This World,” “Kentucky Roads,” “Happiest Christmas,” and the instrumental version of “All is Well,” which Smith said was his favorite song that he had written.
Smith also performed “Raging Sea,” which has an
interesting back story.

“The radio stations refused to play ‘Raging Sea’ (at first) because they wanted drums and bass (on the track),” Smith said. “I refused to give in. I was going for more of an Elton John feel.”

Smith named Elton John, Billy Joel and Kansas as his musical influences, but admitted that a music career was not always his childhood goal. The defining moment of his musical career came when he did not make the All Star baseball
team at 15 years old.

“I wanted to be a professional baseball player, but I didn’t make it to All Stars because I kept beating around on the piano,” Smith said. “I always had a dream to cut a record.”

The allusion to a singular record elicited chuckles from the audience, since Smith has cut 22 albums to date and has won three Grammy Awards, an American Music Award
and 42 Dove Awards.

Smith’s advice to the future worship leaders is to
lead with “extreme humility.”

“When leading worship, your goal is to disappear and usher in the presence of God,” he said.

Contact Amanda Baker at ambaker2@liberty.edu.

Contact Amanda Sullivan at amsullivan3@liberty.edu.

 


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