November 10, 2022 : By Jacob Couch - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
During a Liberty University School of Music songwriting class on Monday afternoon, students were joined by one of the biggest names in Christian music, Michael W. Smith, as he led them from the piano in singing some of his award-winning songs from his decorated career.
He also spoke to music students in a School of Music Convocation Monday morning in the Center for Music and the Worship Arts Concert Hall.
Smith is the executive director of Liberty’s Michael W. Smith Center for Commercial Music, which began in 2019 with the mission to train competent, proficient, marketplace musicians to serve as commercial music industry practitioners. He visits every semester in this role, seeking to offer advice and counsel from his many years of industry experience. Even when he is not on campus, he has conducted online class sessions for students.
Throughout its existence, the center has welcomed other industry professionals like award-winning contemporary Christian recording artist CeCe Winans, GMA Dove Award producer Ben Shive, and songwriter and producer Tommee Profitt.
“(Students) are loving it, and I’m glad that I get to be a small part of it,” Smith said. “(I’m) just trying to help them with their craft, whether they are songwriters or singers.”
Smith said that his hope is to be able to share with students both the successes and failures he’s experienced throughout his career.
“I’m just honored to be able to do that,” he said. “I had the same thing growing up, but I didn’t have it like this. I didn’t have a university or a music school (like Liberty). I just didn’t have that. This place is amazing.”
The center remains the only accredited university program of its kind in the country.
Smith said that he hopes his influence will make a difference in the lives of Liberty’s students.
“I wouldn’t be where I am at today if I didn’t have people mentor me,” he said. “I can’t imagine not being mentored.”
But while the hope is that the students will be able to reap from Smith’s wealth of experience and encouragement, he claims they also teach him.
“I’m always a little richer when I leave,” he said. “I love students. I always said that when I retired, I’d be a youth pastor or a coach or something.”
To be able to play that type of a role currently through Liberty is something that Smith rejoices in.
“It kind of fires me up a little bit,” he said. “It kind of reminds me of me 40 years ago. I was that kid who was sitting there today in that (classroom).”
Smith is looking forward to what is in store for the future of the center.
“I’m here two to three times a year, and I’m trying to get here more than that. I think that there are a lot of exciting things ahead.”