Country pop is a fusion genre of country music and pop music, developed by members of the country genre out of a desire to reach a larger, mainstream audience. By producing country songs that employed many styles and sounds found in pop music, the country music industry was effective in gaining new listeners without alienating its traditional country audience. Country pop music is known for genres like rock and country combined, it is a continuation of similar efforts that began in the late 1950s known as Nashville sound and on Countrypolitan. By the mid-1970s, many country artists were transitioning to the pop-country sound which led to some records charting high on mainstream top 40 as well as country Billboard charts; the joining of country and pop began in the 1950s when studio executives Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley wanted to create a new kind of music for the young adult crowd after "rockabilly stole away much of country music's youth audience". According to Bill Ivey, this innovative genre originated in Nashville and thus became known as the Nashville Sound.
He believes that the "Nashville Sound produced records that sounded more pop than country", after the removal of the fiddle and banjo. Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Eddy Arnold were among the most popular artists during this time; this was intended to have country singers sell more records. The first male artists to come out of this new genre were Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold, who both grew to have widespread acceptance among both country and pop music listeners. Both Jim Reeves and Eddy Arnold had major influence on their RCA labelmate Elvis Presley, apparent not only in secular songs, but more so in country gospel songs; the first female country singer to emerge from this new genre was Patsy Cline in the early 1960s. The example she created was followed by other female country artists, such as Lynn Anderson, Crystal Gayle, Shania Twain, who gained prominence in years. Though Cline gained widespread acceptance from country and pop audiences alike, the Nashville Sound was not well received by country purists, faced competition, first from the Bakersfield Sound and the outlaw movement on that front.
The Nashville sound evolved into countrypolitan during the late 1960s and 1970s and had varying levels of success, with several artists recording in the style, many of whom were otherwise country purists or outlaws: Ray Price, Charley Pride, Charlie Rich, Jessi Colter, Crystal Gayle, Kris Kristofferson, Lynn Anderson all charted pop-influenced country hits during the 1970s. Country pop found its first widespread acceptance during the 1970s, it started when pop music singers, like Glen Campbell, John Denver, Olivia Newton-John, Anne Murray, began having hits on the country charts. Songs like Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" were among the biggest crossover hits in country music history; these pop-oriented singers thought that they could gain higher record sales and a larger audience if they crossed over into the country world. One of the artists who did this was Olivia Newton-John, who emerged from Australia in the mid-1970s, hoping to make it big in the United States; when her single "Let Me Be There" became a big pop-country crossover hit in 1974, it became quite controversial after Newton-John won a Grammy award for "Best Female Country Vocal Performance" for the song, won the Country Music Association's most coveted award for females, "Female Vocalist of the Year".
Newton-John began moving away from country in the late 1970s after starring in Grease and focused on pop music from onward. A group of artists, troubled by this trend, formed the Association of Country Entertainers in 1974; the debate raged into 1975, reached its apex at that year's Country Music Association Awards when reigning Entertainer of the Year Charlie Rich presented the award to his successor, John Denver. As he read Denver's name, Rich set fire to the envelope with a cigarette lighter; the action was taken in some quarters as a protest against the increasing pop style in country music. The ACE would only last two years. In 1977, Kenny Rogers, former frontman of the rock band The First Edition, burst onto the country charts with "Lucille" and would go on to become the most successful of the country pop performers, topping charts all over the world and taking the genre to the zenith internationally, selling more than 130 million records. After "Lucille", Rogers had a string of songs that did well on both the country and pop charts around the world, including "Daytime Friends", "The Gambler", "Coward of the County", all of which were produced by Larry Butler.
Rogers would go on to push the boundaries of pop influence in country music, having records produced by the likes of The Bee Gees, Lionel Richie, David Foster, George Martin, all of which did well in both the pop and country markets. In 1979
Megadeth is an American heavy metal band from Los Angeles, California. Guitarist Dave Mustaine and bassist David Ellefson formed the band in 1983 shortly after Mustaine's dismissal from Metallica. Along with Metallica and Slayer, Megadeth is one of the "Big Four" of American thrash metal, responsible for its development and popularization, their music features complex arrangements and fast rhythm sections, lyrical themes of death, war and religion. In 1985, Megadeth released its debut album, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good!, on the independent record label Combat Records, to moderate success. It caught the attention of bigger labels, their first major-label album, Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, was released in 1986 and influenced the underground metal scene. Substance abuse and personal disputes brought Megadeth negative publicity during this period. After the lineup stabilized, Megadeth released a number of platinum-selling albums, including Rust in Peace and Countdown to Extinction.
These albums, along with worldwide tours, brought them public recognition. The band temporarily disbanded in 2002 when Mustaine suffered an arm injury and re-established in 2004 without bassist Ellefson, who had taken legal action against Mustaine. Ellefson settled out of court and rejoined in 2010. Megadeth has hosted its own music festival, several times since July 2005. Megadeth has sold over 38 million records worldwide, earned platinum certification in the United States for five of its fifteen studio albums, received twelve Grammy nominations. Megadeth won its first Grammy Award in 2017 for the song "Dystopia" in the Best Metal Performance category; the band's mascot, Vic Rattlehead appears on album artwork and live shows. The group has drawn controversy for its music and lyrics, including album bans and canceled concerts. On April 11, 1983, Dave Mustaine was expelled from Metallica just prior to the band recording their debut album Kill'Em All due to substance abuse and personal conflicts with James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich.
As Metallica's lead guitarist since 1981, Mustaine had composed some of the group's early songs and helped hone the band into a tight live unit. Afterward, Mustaine vowed revenge by forming a band, faster and heavier than Metallica. On the bus trip back to Los Angeles, Mustaine found a pamphlet by California senator Alan Cranston that read: "The arsenal of megadeath can't be rid no matter what the peace treaties come to." The term "Megadeath" stuck with Mustaine and he wrote a song with the spelling changed to Megadeth, according to Mustaine, represented the annihilation of power. After arriving back in Los Angeles, Mustaine began the search for new bandmates, he formed a band with his new neighbors David Ellefson and Greg Handevidt, who had moved from Minnesota and played bass and guitar respectively. While Handevidt would only last a few months and Ellefson formed a tight musical bond. Despite his enthusiasm, Mustaine had trouble finding other members to fill out the lineup, he and Ellefson examined about fifteen drummers, hoping to find one who understood meter changes in music.
After playing with Dijon Carruthers, they selected Lee Rausch. They decided on Mustaine as lead vocalist after six months of searching. In 1984, Megadeth recorded a three-song demo tape featuring Mustaine and Rausch; the demo tape, Last Rites, was released on March 9, 1984. The demo featured early versions of "Last Rites/Loved to Death", "The Skull Beneath the Skin", "Mechanix", all of which appeared on the band's debut album. A second guitarist proved elusive after several months of searching. In the meantime, Kerry King of Slayer filled in on rhythm guitar for several shows in the San Francisco area in the spring of 1984. Afterwards, King went back to Slayer and Megadeth replaced Rausch with jazz fusion drummer Gar Samuelson. Samuelson had been in the jazz band the New Yorkers with guitarist Chris Poland. After seeing Samuelson perform with Megadeth as a trio, Poland went backstage and suggested an impromptu audition as lead guitarist for the band. After considering several labels, Mustaine signed the band to Combat Records, a New York-based Independent record label that offered Megadeth the highest budget to record and tour.
In 1985, Combat Records gave the band $8,000 to produce its debut album. After spending $4,000 of the budget on drugs and food, the band fired the original producer and finished the recording themselves. Despite its low-fidelity sound, Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! was successful in underground metal circles and attracted major-label interest. Music writer Joel McIver praised its "blistering technicality" and stated that the album "raised the bar for the whole thrash metal scene, with guitarists forced to perform more and powerfully"; the front cover marked the debut of band mascot Vic Rattlehead, who appeared on subsequent album artwork. Killing Is My Business... and Business Is Good! Features "Mechanix", a song Mustaine wrote during his time with Metallica. Though Mustaine told the band after his dismissal not to use the music he had written, Metallica recorded a different version of the song, "The Four Horsemen", with a slower tempo and a melodic middle section; the album included a cover of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'," at a faster tempo and with altered lyrics.
Megadeth's version generated controversy during the 1990s, when its writer, Lee Hazlewood, called Mustaine's changes "vile and offensive". Under threat of legal action, the song was
Rascal Flatts is an American band formed in Columbus, Ohio in 1999. It is composed of lead vocalist Gary LeVox, his second cousin Jay DeMarcus on bass guitar, Joe Don Rooney on guitar and banjo. DeMarcus is a brother-in-law of country music singer James Otto, one-half of the Christian music duo East to West. From 2000 to 2010, they recorded for Disney Music Group's Lyric Street Records. While on that label, they released seven albums, all of which have been certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America. In order of release, these albums are Rascal Flatts, Feels Like Today, Me and My Gang, Still Feels Good, Greatest Hits Volume 1 and Unstoppable. After Lyric Street closed in 2010, they moved to Big Machine Records, for which they have released five albums: Nothing Like This, Rewind, The Greatest Gift of All, Back to Us, their studio albums have accounted for more than 25 singles, of which 14 have reached No. 1 on Billboard Hot Country Songs and/or Country Airplay.
Their longest-lasting No. 1 single, a cover of Marcus Hummon's "Bless the Broken Road", spent five weeks in that position in 2005. In 2005–06, "What Hurts the Most" was No. 1 on both the Hot Country Songs and Adult Contemporary charts, peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Rascal Flatts' founding was at Steel Guitar Bar in Nashville, Tennessee. Gary LeVox and Jay DeMarcus are second cousins from a musical family. DeMarcus moved to Nashville in 1992, earning his first record deal as part of a Christian group called East to West. In 1997, DeMarcus called LeVox, convinced him to come to Nashville and provide some harmonies on Michael English's album Gospel, which he was producing, they engineered the album together, became English's back-up band. At the same time, DeMarcus had become the bandleader of Chely Wright's band, where he met Joe Don Rooney, the guitarist in that band. DeMarcus and LeVox were working in a Printer's Alley nightclub and when their part-time guitarist could not make it one night, DeMarcus invited Rooney to join them.
Jim Riley was the bandleader for the band. The group covered. To the group's recollection, a bond was formed instantly. Singer Mila Mason recommended the group to record producers Mark Bright and Marty Williams, who played Lyric Street Records A&R Doug Howard a three-song demo and Howard thought they were "just incredible." After he'd heard the demos, the band went into the Lyric Street offices the next day, sat down with acoustic guitars, played a couple of songs. According to Howard in an interview with HitQuarters: "The vocals and harmonies, it was all there—I was just blown away; the lead singer has such a unique and compelling voice." The band was signed to Lyric Street in late 1999. In early 2000, the group made its debut with the single "Prayin' for Daylight"; this song had been on the three-song demo. The song, which reached No. 3 on the Billboard country charts, was the first single from their self-titled debut, issued in early 2000 on Lyric Street. Following "Prayin' for Daylight", the album's other three singles all made the Top 10 on that chart with "This Everyday Love", "While You Loved Me", "I'm Movin' On", which peaked at numbers 9, 7, 4.
"I'm Movin' On" was awarded Song of the Year by the Academy of Country Music in 2002. Stephen Thomas Erlewine reviewed the album with favor, calling it "a sunny, pleasing modern country-pop album", their second album, entitled Melt, was released in 2002. Unlike their previous album, Rascal Flatts co-produced this one; the album's first single, "These Days", became the band's first number one hit on the U. S. country charts. The album included two more Top 10 hits with "Love You Out Loud" "I Melt", "Mayberry"; the latter became the band's second number one. The music video for "I Melt" featured partial nudity and was banned from the Great American Country network. Rascal Flatts's third album, Feels Like Today, was released in late 2004; the album's title track was released as its first single. Following it was "Bless the Broken Road"; that song was recorded by its co-writer, Marcus Hummon, had been recorded by Melodie Crittenden, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Sons of the Desert. In early 2005, Rascal Flatts's version became the band's third number one hit on the U.
S. country spent five weeks at that position. The third single, "Fast Cars and Freedom", hit number one as well. While the latter was climbing the charts, some radio stations began playing a hidden track on the album, titled "Skin"; this airplay caused "Skin" to enter the top 40. The song was released as a single under the title "Skin" and added to the album's track list. Rascal Flatts's thirteenth chart entry, "What Hurts the Most", was released in December 2005; this song had been recorded by Mark Wills in 2003. Rascal Flatts' version of that song was released as the first single from their fourth album Me and My Gang, released in 2006. For this album, the band worked with producer Dann Huff, they switched producers to create a more band-oriented album. Rascal Flatts' rendition of "What Hurts the Most" was a crossover hit for the band, reaching No. 1 on both the country and adult contemporary charts, as well as peaking with the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. After it, the album's title track was released as the second single and charted in the Top 10 at number 6.
The third and fourth singles, "My Wish" and "Stand", both reached number one. In 2006, the group
Lonestar is an American country music group consisting of Richie McDonald, Michael Britt, Dean Sams, Keech Rainwater. Before the group's foundation in 1992, both Rainwater and Britt were members of the group Canyon. John Rich was a member of Lonestar until he departed in 1998, went on to become one-half of the duo Big & Rich. Since his departure, Lonestar has relied alternatingly on session and touring musicians for bass guitar accompaniment. McDonald exited the band in 2007 to record as a solo artist, was replaced by former McAlyster vocalist Cody Collins before returning in 2011. Lonestar has charted more than 20 singles on the Hot Country Songs chart, including 9 that reached No. 1: "No News", "Come Cryin' to Me", "Amazed", "Smile", "What About Now", "Tell Her", "I'm Already There", "My Front Porch Looking In", "Mr. Mom". "Amazed" charted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the first country song to do so since "Islands in the Stream" in 1983. "Amazed" and "My Front Porch Looking In" were the top country songs of 1999 and 2003 on Billboard Year-End.
The group has recorded seven albums, one EP, a greatest hits package for the defunct BNA Records, one album each for three different independent labels. Three of their albums have been certified platinum or higher by the Recording Industry Association of America; the band's first two albums were defined by honky-tonk and neotraditionalist country influences, but subsequent albums drew from country pop. Along with his work with the band, McDonald has co-written singles for Clay Walker, The Wilkinsons, Billy Dean, Sara Evans, in addition to singing guest vocals on Mindy McCready's 1996 single "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now". Lonestar began in 1992; this name was derived from the fact that all five members were natives of Texas, met in Nashville, Tennessee's Opryland USA theme park. The original lineup consisted of lead singer/rhythm guitarist Richie McDonald, lead guitarist Michael Britt, drummer Randy "Keech" Rainwater, keyboardist/rhythm guitarist Dean Sams, bass guitarist/lead and background vocalist John Rich.
Before Lonestar's foundation and Britt were members of the group Canyon, which recorded two albums for the independent 16th Avenue Records and charted in the country top 40 with "Hot Nights" in 1989. Soon after foundation, Texassee changed its name to Lonestar; the band first played at a concert in Nashville in 1993 and signed to BNA Records in 1995. Lonestar's first release for BNA was an extended play titled Lonestar Live, recorded at the Wildhorse Saloon in Nashville and issued in January 1995, their debut single, "Tequila Talkin'", was released that August, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart. It was included on their self-titled debut album, released that October, its producers were Don Cook and songwriter Wally Wilson, with whom Rich wrote the track "I Love the Way You Do That". Other contributing songwriters included former solo artists Bill LaBounty, Rick Vincent, Larry Boone; the next single, "No News", became the band's first No. 1, holding that position for three weeks in April 1996.
A physical single release of "Tequila Talkin'" and "No News" as a double A-side went to No. 22 on Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles. After these two songs, "Runnin' Away with My Heart" went to No. 8 on the country charts. It was followed by "When Cowboys Didn't Dance", which failed to reach the top 40, "Heartbroke Every Day", the only single to feature Rich on lead vocals, at No. 18. Both of these songs had appeared on the Lonestar Live EP, their chart runs both overlapped with then-labelmate Mindy McCready's "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now", which featured McDonald as a backing vocalist and peaked at No. 18 as well. Lonestar was met with favorable reviews. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic and Brian Wahlert of Country Standard Time both praised the band for having neotraditionalist country influences in their sound, with Wahlert stating that the use of both Rich and McDonald on lead vocals gave the album "versatility". Rick Mitchell of New Country criticized the band's sound as "lite rock with a twang".
In 1996, Lonestar won the Academy of Country Music award for Best Vocal Group. Lonestar's sixth chart single was "Come Cryin' to Me", which Rich and Wilson co-wrote with "No News" co-writer Mark D. Sanders; the song became the band's second No. 1 single in August 1997, two months after the release of its corresponding album, Crazy Nights. As with Lonestar, it was produced by Cook; the next single, "You Walked In", was written by rock producer and songwriter Robert John "Mutt" Lange. It peaked at number 12 on the country charts and became the band's first entry on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 93. "Say When" and "Everything's Changed" followed it, with respective peaks at thirteen and two on the country music charts in 1998. The latter went to number 95 on the Hot 100. Boone and Paul Nelson co-wrote both of these songs, collaborating with Rich on the former and McDonald on the latter. Included on the album was a cover of Pure Prairie League's "Amie". Thom Owens gave the album a mixed review, saying that "Come Cryin' to Me" and the "Amie" cover were "solid", but criticizing the rest as "slick and bland".
Shortly after the release of "Everything's Changed", Rich left the band, as they and their advisors felt that having two lead singers would be confusing to fans. Late in 1998, Ke
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U. S. state of Tennessee. The city is located on the Cumberland River; the city's population ranks 24th in the U. S. According to 2017 estimates from the U. S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243; the "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017. Located in northern Middle Tennessee, Nashville is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in Tennessee; the 2017 population of the entire 14-county Nashville metropolitan area was 1,903,045. The 2017 population of the Nashville—Davidson–Murfreesboro–Columbia combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 2,027,489. Named for Francis Nash, a general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, the city was founded in 1779; the city grew due to its strategic location as a port and railroad center. Nashville seceded with Tennessee during the American Civil War and in 1862 became the first state capital to fall to Union troops.
After the war the city developed a manufacturing base. Since 1963, Nashville has had a consolidated city-county government, which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system; the city is governed by a mayor, a vice-mayor, a 40-member metropolitan council. Reflecting the city's position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for Middle Tennessee. Nashville is a center for the music, publishing, private prison and transportation industries, is home to numerous colleges and universities such as Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Fisk University, Lipscomb University. Entities with headquarters in the city include Asurion, Bridgestone Americas, Captain D's, CoreCivic, Dollar General, Hospital Corporation of America, LifeWay Christian Resources, Logan's Roadhouse, Ryman Hospitality Properties; the town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough.
It was named for the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville grew because of its strategic location, accessibility as a port on the Cumberland River, a tributary of the Ohio River. By 1800, the city had 345 residents, including 136 enslaved African Americans and 14 free African-American residents. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named as the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee; the city government of Nashville owned 24 slaves by 1831, 60 prior to the war. They were "put to work to build the first successful water system and maintain the streets." The cholera outbreak that struck Nashville in 1849–1850 took the life of former U. S. President James K. Polk. There were 311 deaths from cholera in 1849 and an estimated 316 to about 500 in 1850. By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a prosperous city; the city's significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes.
In February 1862, Nashville became the first state capital to fall to Union troops. The state was occupied by Union troops for the duration of the war; the Battle of Nashville was a significant Union victory and the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war. Afterward, the Confederates conducted a war of attrition, making guerrilla raids and engaging in small skirmishes, with the Confederate forces in the Deep South constantly in retreat. In 1868, a few years after the Civil War, the Nashville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was founded by Confederate veteran John W. Morton. Chapters of this secret insurgent group formed throughout the South. In 1873 Nashville suffered another cholera epidemic, as did towns throughout Sumner County along railroad routes and the Cumberland River. Meanwhile, the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and developed a solid manufacturing base; the post–Civil War years of the late 19th century brought new prosperity to Nashville and Davidson County.
These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, including the Parthenon in Centennial Park, near downtown. On April 30, 1892, Ephraim Grizzard, an African-American man, was lynched in a spectacle murder in front of a white mob of 10,000 in Nashville, his lynching was described by journalist Ida B. Wells as: "A naked, bloody example of the blood-thirstiness of the nineteenth century civilization of the Athens of the South." From 1877 to 1950, a total of six lynchings of blacks were conducted in Davidson County, most in the county seat of Nashville near the turn of the century. By the turn of the century, Nashville had become the cradle of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, as the first chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded here and the Confederate Veteran magazine was published here. Most "guardians of the Lost Cause" lived near Centennial Park. At the same time, Jefferson Street became the historic center of the African-American community.
It remained so until the federal government s
National Library of the Czech Republic
The National Library of the Czech Republic is the central library of the Czech Republic. It is directed by the Ministry of Culture; the library's main building is located in the historical Clementinum building in Prague, where half of its books are kept. The other half of the collection is stored in the district of Hostivař; the National Library is the biggest library in the Czech Republic, in its funds there are around 6 million documents. The library has around 60,000 registered readers; as well as Czech texts, the library stores older material from Turkey and India. The library houses books for Charles University in Prague; the library won international recognition in 2005 as it received the inaugural Jikji Prize from UNESCO via the Memory of the World Programme for its efforts in digitising old texts. The project, which commenced in 1992, involved the digitisation of 1,700 documents in its first 13 years; the most precious medieval manuscripts preserved in the National Library are the Codex Vyssegradensis and the Passional of Abbes Kunigunde.
In 2006 the Czech parliament approved funding for the construction of a new library building on Letna plain, between Hradčanská metro station and Sparta Prague's football ground, Letná stadium. In March 2007, following a request for tender, Czech architect Jan Kaplický was selected by a jury to undertake the project, with a projected completion date of 2011. In 2007 the project was delayed following objections regarding its proposed location from government officials including Prague Mayor Pavel Bém and President Václav Klaus. Plans for the building had still not been decided in February 2008, with the matter being referred to the Office for the Protection of Competition in order to determine if the tender had been won fairly. In 2008, Minister of Culture Václav Jehlička announced the end of the project, following a ruling from the European Commission that the tender process had not been carried out legally; the library was affected by the 2002 European floods, with some documents moved to upper levels to avoid the excess water.
Over 4,000 books were removed from the library in July 2011 following flooding in parts of the main building. There was a fire at the library in December 2012. List of national and state libraries Official website
Michael W. Smith
Michael Whitaker Smith is an American musician, who has charted in both contemporary Christian and mainstream charts. His biggest success in mainstream music was in 1991 when "Place in this World" hit No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Over the course of his career, he has sold more than 18 million albums. Smith is a three-time Grammy Award winner, an American Music Award recipient, has earned 45 Dove Awards. In 1999, ASCAP awarded him with the "Golden Note" Award for lifetime achievement in songwriting, in 2014 they honored him as the "cornerstone of Christian music" for his significant influence on the genre, he has recorded 31 No. 1 Hit songs, fourteen gold albums, five platinum albums. He has starred in two films and published 14 books including This Is Your Time, which he worked with Christian author Gary Thomas to write. Michael Whitaker Smith was born to Barbara Smith in Kenova, West Virginia, his father was an oil refinery worker at the Ashland Oil Refinery, in Kentucky. His mother was a caterer.
He inherited his love of baseball from his father. As a child, he developed a love of music through his church, he sang in his church choir. At the age of 10, he had "an intense spiritual experience" that led to his becoming a devout Christian. "I wore this big cross around my neck," he would recall, "It was real to me." He found a group of older friends who shared his faith. After his older Christian friends moved away to college, Smith began to struggle with feelings of loneliness and alienation. After graduating from high school, he gravitated toward alcohol and drugs, he attended Marshall University while developing his songwriting skills but dropped out after one semester. He played with various local bands around Huntington, West Virginia. During that time, his friend Shane Keister, who worked as a session musician in Nashville, encouraged him to move to Nashville, the Country Music capital, pursue a career in music. In 1978, Smith moved to Nashville, he played with several local bands in the Nashville club scene.
He developed a problem with substance abuse. I started losing touch when I moved to Nashville, around April of'78. I was smokin' marijuana, doing some other drugs. My mom and dad knew, but they never hassled me. And I felt convicted by God; every time I'd wake up I knew: This isn't me. But I couldn't change myself. In November 1979, Smith suffered a breakdown; the next day he auditioned for a new contemporary Christian music group, Higher Ground, as a keyboardist and got the job. His lead vocals were heard on much of CCM radio with the single, "I Am", it was on his first tour with Higher Ground, playing in churches, that Smith was able to put the drugs and alcohol behind him. In 1981, while he was playing keyboards for Higher Ground, Smith was signed as a writer to Meadowgreen Music, where he wrote numerous gospel hits penned for artists such as Sandi Patty, Kathy Troccoli, Bill Gaither and Amy Grant, to the effect that some of these popular worship songs can now be found in church hymnals; the following year, Smith began touring as a keyboardist for Grant on her Age to Age tour.
He would become Grant's opening act and recorded his first Grammy-nominated solo album The Michael W. Smith Project in 1983 on the Reunion Records label; this album contained the first recording of his hit "Friends", which he co-wrote with his wife Deborah. By the time Smith's second album Michael W. Smith 2 was released in 1984, he was headlining his own tours. In 1986, Smith released The Big Picture. After the release of his 1988 effort, i 2, Smith once again collaborated with Grant for her "Lead Me On" world tour; the following year, Smith recorded his first Christmas album titled Christmas. In 1990, Smith released Go West Young Man, his first mainstream effort, which included the mainstream crossover hit single "Place in This World"; the song peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1992, he released Change Your World, which included the No. 1 adult contemporary hit "I Will Be Here for You". In 1993 Smith released his first box set, The Wonder Years and his first greatest hits album, The First Decade.
The latter includes two new songs, "Do You Dream of Me?" and "Kentucky Rose". In 1994, Smith appeared as a guest pianist on the album Swing, Swung by Christian rock band Guardian. In 1995, Smith released his eighth album I'll Lead You Home, which combines the pop style of his secular albums with a touch of religious feel. Live the Life and This Is Your Time follow the same style. In 1998, Smith released his second Christmas album, Christmastime. Smith collaborated with Jim Brickman on "Love of My Life", a romantic love song for Brickman's album Destiny in 1999; the song went to chart at No. 9 on the Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks. In 1999, he became the first Christian artist to receive the ASCAP "Golden Note" Award for lifetime achievement in songwriting. Nearly all of Smith's albums include at least one instrumental track, in 2000, Smith recorded his first all instrumental album, Freedom; the following year, Smith released his first all-worship music album, Worship, on September 11. This album was followed by a sequel, Worship Again in 2002.
Both albums were recorded live in concert. Worship Again includes a song that Smith wrote called "There She Stands", inspired by the September 11, 2001 attacks, he performed this song live for the 2004 Republican National Convention, saying that