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“Sometimes you’ve just got to shake things up,” Michael W. Smith says with a smile. After selling more than 15 million albums, scoring 32 No. 1 hits, receiving 2x RIAA Multi-Platinum, 6 Platinum and 16 Gold certified albums, earning three GRAMMYs and 45 Dove Awards, no one would blame the Christian music icon if he decided to coast just a little bit, but that’s just not in his nature.
On Sovereign, Smith’s first worship album since 2008 and his first project since signing with Capitol Christian Music Group in 2013, he deliberately steps into a new creative chapter to craft a vibrant collection of vertically focused songs with a fresh sense of musical innovation.
“I feel like it’s a good season,” Smith says, leaning forward in a comfortable chair in the 1940s Tennessee farmhouse he’s converted into a studio. “I’m pretty passionate. I have lots of energy and I’m probably enjoying making music more than I ever have in my entire life. I’m having fun and I’m excited about this record and this next chapter.”
When it came time to write and record songs for his new album, Smith decided to enlist the talents of several young songwriters and producers that he hadn’t collaborated with previously. “I said, ‘I’m wide open and I need somebody to push me,’” Smith recalls. And he found a willing catalyst in Capitol CMG A&R ace Chris York. “Chris said, ‘Why don’t you write with this person? Why don’t we get this producer?’ I said, ‘Okay, I’ll get out of my comfort zone and try it’ and it’s been awesome! There’s new blood, new territory, new people. I’m freer. I’m willing to take some risks.”
Among Smith’s new creative cohorts are Seth Moseley and Kyle Lee, who co- wrote the potent anthem “Miracle.” Smith says that song set the benchmark for the new album. “We went through 115 songs and ‘Miracle’ was the one for us that set the bar, and set it pretty high. Then when we were working on ‘Miracle,’ I asked Seth: ‘What do you have on your computer? What are you excited about?’ So he starts playing this track and I take this acoustic guitar off the wall and start playing ‘You Won’t Let Go.’ I wrote the melody on the acoustic guitar. That’s not the way I usually operate, so it’s just like living on the edge a little bit.”
“You Won’t Let Go,” the first single from Sovereign, has quickly become a staple in Smith’s live shows and has given him a triumphant reentry into Christian radio where the song is being enthusiastically embraced. The song’s powerful lyric resonates with believers as Smith sings: “No shadow comes without the light making a way / No raging storm can ever defy one word of faith / My heart remains sure in the wind, Sure in the waves / You are the anchor for my soul You won’t let go / You won’t let go / No matter what may come I know You won’t let go. You won’t let go.”
Smith has always had a gift for...(read more)