Christian singer Michael W. Smith is one of the most acclaimed musicians of our time. He has sold over 15 million albums, has 28 number one hits, and won three Grammy Awards. Michael released his album “Hymns” earlier this year and won the coveted Dove Award for Inspirational album of the year. The acclaimed Christian singer recently released his amazing new Christmas album called “The Spirit of Christmas” which is filled with nostalgic Christmas songs we all grew up with, as well as hit songs Michael co-wrote, and stellar collaborations with hit singers including Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Jennifer Nettles, Lady Antebellum and Amy Grant to name a few. Michael was kind enough to join me for an interview yesterday to dish on his new album “The Spirit of Christmas” and his upcoming tour which is also titled “The Spirit of Christmas”!
Candace Rose: Can you tell us about your new album “The Spirit of Christmas” and what inspired you to create it?
Michael W. Smith: “Wow! It was a big idea, that’s for sure. A good friend of mine named Robert Deaton who is the TV producer who produces the CMA’s, this was kind of his brain child. He knew I wanted to do another Christmas record and he had this whole idea of lots of collaboration, sort of do old school and go back to those Andy Williams records and take you back to your childhood with songs from the ‘Charlie Brown Christmas Special’ and ‘Home Alone’ – there’s a song from ‘Home Alone’. It was really his idea and we had a big list of A level artists and they all said yes and here we are. I’m still pinching myself that they all said yes and participated. It’s really a special project for sure.”
Candace Rose: Not only does the album include Christmas classics, but a few songs that you co-wrote including “Almost There” with Amy Grant, “All Is Well”, and “Christmas Day”. How did you choose which songs to include on the album “The Spirit of Christmas”?
Michael W. Smith: “That’s a good question – trying to find some great songs. ‘All Is Well’ is my favorite song I’ve ever written. It was on my first Christmas album and we felt like we needed to bring it back, and we felt that Carrie Underwood would be the perfect choice to sing the song. She just completely knocked it out of the park.
‘Almost There’ is one of the very few originals on the record that I wrote with Amy (Grant) and another guy named Wes King. That was probably my favorite emotional moment on the album. I think there’s a whole art to the whole project – the whole front that’s supposed to take you back to your childhood, it’s all the really fun part of Christmas, and you sort of make a turn and get into what the real reason for Christmas is. We just tried to pick those songs – ‘Silent Night”, ‘What Child Is This’, and ‘Almost There’ and then you get into ‘All Is Well’ with Carrie (Underwood) and ‘Christmas Day’ with me and Jennifer (Nettles). Maybe it was a little difficult because there are a lot of great songs out there, but I think we got the right ones.”
Candace Rose: As you mentioned you collaborated with some of the most popular country music stars including Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, and the band, Lady Antebellum (to name a few) for the album. What was that experience like?
Michael W. Smith: ” It was awesome to be able to be in the studio with most all of these artists and actually do it together was amazing. They were prepared, they were excited. They came in with lots of passion and I think I was blown away. These people are very, very busy with their own careers and the fact that they really wanted to be a part of this album was very humbling for me.”
Candace Rose: You’re also going on tour soon. Can you tell us about “The Spirit of Christmas” tour?
Michael W. Smith: “We’re hitting the road and we’re going to be traveling all around the U.S. We’ve got one date in Canada. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is sponsoring the tour, it’s been a great relationship. They released my ‘Hymns‘ project earlier this year and they’re also selling this record in their stores all around the country. We’re excited playing a lot of places with symphonies around the country, and three of those shows – I believe Dallas, Minneapolis and Atlanta, I’m sharing the stage with my great friend Amy Grant and I’m excited about that as well.”
Candace Rose: As you mentioned, you partnered with Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for your album “Hymns” earlier this year, and they’re sponsoring your new tour. What does Cracker Barrel and their continued support mean to you?
Michael W. Smith: “It means a lot. I love the restaurant. My dad and I have eaten lunch there for years, it’s kind of a favorite place to go. They were very, very supportive when we started talking about the ‘Hymns’ project, and that ‘Hymns’ project has done extremely well. They’ve been really good to me. I love the company, I love what they stand for, and it’s a no-brainer, and actually I think they’re the ones that came and said ‘Hey, we’d love to be involved in the Christmas tour’, so I’m extremely grateful.”
Candace Rose: Where can fans go for more information on your album “The Spirit of Christmas” and to see you on tour?
Michael W. Smith: “The best place to go is MichaelWSmith.com. That gives you all the information, and where we’re playing and all that sort of thing.”
Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit of Christmas
- The Miracle of Christmas
- It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- Happy Holidays/Holiday Season
- Christmas Time Is Here (feat. Vince Gill)
- White Christmas (feat. Lady Antebellum)
- Somewhere In My Memory
- The Spirit of Christmas (Deck the Halls, Good King Wenceslas, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Feels Like Christmas, O Come All Ye Faithful)
- Silent Night (feat. Little Big Town)
- What Child Is This (feat. Martina McBride)
- Almost There (feat. Amy Grant)
- All Is Well (feat. Carrie Underwood)
- Christmas Day (feat. Jennifer Nettles)
- The Darkest Midnight (Spoken Word by Bono)
- Peace (with Special Guest Michael McDonald)