Michael Whitaker Smith, 7 October 1957, Kenova, Wayne County, West Virginia, USA. One of the most popular contemporary Christian artists, Smith, the son of an oil refinery worker and caterer, became a Christian aged 10. However, after his support network broke up following high school, Smith was drawn to drink and drugs. Those travails have provided much of his subject matter since. By 1978 he had moved to Nashville to work as a songwriter, a time that included a short period in the band Rose. He was still using drugs, but in October 1979 was born again after an emotional breakdown. He auditioned for the Christian band Higher Ground, and toured with them as a keyboard player. In 1981, he secured a contract to be staff writer for Meadowgreen Music, where he wrote gospel hits for Kathy Trococoli, Bill Gaither, Amy Grant and Sandi Patty. He joined Grants touring band in 1982 and released his debut solo album the following year.
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