February 23, 2021 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
On Monday and Tuesday, Liberty University School of Music students were treated to in-person interaction with one of Christian music’s most decorated and accomplished artists when Michael W. Smith visited classes, offering his expertise in the music industry as well as advice and encouragement during songwriting sessions and as he worked with some of the school’s worship teams.
“Your job as a worship leader is to create an atmosphere where God meets man,” he told students. “When God meets people, amazing things happen.”
Smith has been a regular guest to the School of Music since Liberty launched the Michael W. Smith Center for Commercial Music in 2019 with the mission to train competent, proficient, marketplace musicians to serve as commercial music industry practitioners. Smith is the center’s executive director.
Smith kicked off his visit Monday morning in the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall, where he led a socially distanced gathering of students in a time of worship that included him singing his most recent No. 1 hit, “Waymaker.”
Smith and his team then talked about the importance of accountability, humility, and stillness in today’s music industry, which thrives on busyness and hectic living.
“I don’t know if that’s God’s idea of thriving,” Smith said. “There’s got to be a balance. … We’ve got to slow down, we’ve got to turn off social media, and we’ve got to get still.”
It is in those still moments that Smith and his team believe one can be in a healthy mental and spiritual place. They said that they have seen many musicians lose their passion for music in the pursuit of commercial success.
On Tuesday, Smith sat in on Scott Bullman’s Creative Worship class before listening to a School of Music songwriting session in the Concert Hall. During his time in class, Smith once again emphasized the importance of stillness.
“If you’re going to lead people into the throne room of God, you’ve got to dial it in,” he said. “Part of dialing it in is being still.”
The four-time Grammy Award winning recording artist has sold close to 20 million albums over 35 years of industry success. Smith’s partnership with Liberty has afforded School of Music students access to learning from a Christian music legend who has faithfully been a Champion for Christ for decades.
“I thrive on this,” Smith said Tuesday after interacting with students in class. “I love being with students. I’m thankful to be here (at Liberty).”
Michael will be back on Sunday, April 18, at 7 p.m. to join the School of Music for the 14th annual Night of Worship at Thomas Road Baptist Church.