Michael W. Smith joins Country Faith Radio with Hillary Scott to talk about recreating his ‘Worship’ album 20 years later with ‘Worship Forever (Live).’ He also discusses creating Rocketown as a safe place for at-risk youth and keeping it up and running all these years later. Listen to the episode in-full anytime on-demand at apple.co/_CountryFaith
Michael W. Smith On Hearing God Tell Him to Record His Album ‘Worship’ in 2001
I was working on a pop record, and then three weeks after that night at The Ryman, I woke up in the middle of the night, and just I felt like God was saying, “For such a time is this.” And I fought it, and I fought it, because I thought, “Oh, what are people going to think about me? I’m trying to jump on the bandwagon,” and I said no, and three weeks later, I woke up again, and I said no again, and then three weeks later, I mean, it was like a… you’re sitting up wide awake at 3:00 in the morning, and you’re hearing, almost in a loud voice, “For such a time is this.” And I remember going, “I’m going to do it. I’m doing this out of obedience. If this is really what you want me to do, I’ll do it.” So I took all these artists to Lakeland, Florida. We did this. I found what I thought were the best worship songs of that time, in 2001, and we did it, and I remember after we recorded it, we all went backstage, and we all just started crying, because we all just were in awe of what happened, because we all kept saying to each other, “What just happened out there?” So we came back all filled up, and then the record slated to come out on September 11, 2001.
Michael W. Smith On What It Was Like to Release ‘Worship’ On September 11, 2001
I was in Chicago the night before. I decided at the last minute to jump on my plane, get home. I felt like I was supposed to come home. It was sort of something in my spirit gut, and was going to fly to Atlanta the next afternoon to continue this 10-day promotional tour about the record, and I woke up the next day and got a call from Debbie, my wife, and so I go to my studio, and obviously, the rest is history. I didn’t go anywhere. And it didn’t really dawn on me until that night, because you’re sort of like… You’re probably the same way. You’re just going, “What is going on?” It’s almost like a, “This is not happening,” you know? And then that night, I go to my house, and then it’s almost like I completely forgot about, “Oh my gosh, my record came out today.”
Michael W. Smith on Getting the Idea to Reimagine ‘Worship’ 20 Years Later
What I thought would be the least successful record of my career is the biggest record of my career. All around the world, I don’t know how it happened, but it just found its way onto every continent. So I just had this wild thing of going, “Maybe we’re supposed to go reimagine that record with no band, no drums, no guitar. Let’s just do it with a full symphony orchestra and 12 singers,” and we did, and it was a magical night, and I’ll never forget it, and I’m so glad I did it.
Michael W. Smith on Creating “Rocketown” for At-Risk Youth in Need
It all happened in 1991. I’d heard about there was a cruising problem in Franklin, [TN] and kids getting in trouble, drinking, and all that sort of thing, and I’ve always felt like if the music thing never worked out, I wanted to be the hippest youth pastor in the world. I just want to love on kids, because I had a whole four-year bout of drugs, and da da da, and all that. I’ve written books about it, but amazing how God rescued me. So I’m thinking ever since I got rescued, I’ve always had a heart for kids and what kids are going through, gosh, and especially today, and what kids are faced with, with social media, all that stuff. It’s intense. But, it was 1991, and I went down and saw these kids cruising, and then it was the craziest thing. I mean, I just heard this voice, “Build it and they’ll come,” and I kept thinking, “That’s Field of Dreams. That’s Kevin Costner.” And I kept hearing, “Build it and they’ll come. Build it and they’ll come.” I’m going, “What is that?” [I felt] like God was speaking to me, and it was like, “A youth facility.” And I started to sort of… You know, it started to become more clear of what that vision was, of just getting kids off the street and meet their needs socially, but more importantly, meet their needs spiritually.
Hillary Scott on Lady A Having Their First-Ever CMA Fest Fan Club Party at “Rocketown”
Just a small tidbit for everybody listening, the first fan club party during CMA Fest that Lady A ever had, was at Rocketown. So it’s really just provided such an amazing space for so many things, but most importantly, the at-risk youth that you love on, and support, and help move through difficult seasons of life, which no matter who you are, where you’re from, teenage years are hard. So to be able to give children, and teenagers especially, that place is just so incredible, and I’m just such a believer in it.