Posts Tagged ‘Christian music’

Michael W. Smith is the most talented keyboard player in Christian music. Back in the 80’s and 90’s he and his former employer, CCM legend Amy Grant (whom he played keyboards for in the early 80’s). were the genre’s answer to Bernie Taupin and Elton John.

In 1984, Smith released the followup to his Michael W. Smith Project album; the aptly titled Michael W. Smith 2. The album’s opener is the impressively synth-friendly classic A Way. The song is great lyrically and stylistically – a somewhat rare ordeal in contemporary christian music.

The lyrics talk about God meeting us where we are at, rather than us trying to reach him:

Caught in a dream of where I want to be

Wrapped in a web of where I am

I feel a wall between what is and what should be

You find me waiting for an miracle
You hear me praying for a plan

You are the only one prepared to rescue me

Then you take away the distance

Found between the truth and me

& you give a simple reason to my restless rhyme

Woa, hide me in the Heavens

You have held within your hand

And make a way to find a way to soothe my mind

There is a way that might seem right to me

a dim reflection of what’s good

Just an illusion of the best that I can be

But there’s another path you offer me

I wish I always understood

Some way you see right through my thoughts

And all my needs

 This is a must-have for your download collection!


Singer Kevin Max by a window, taken for public...

Kevin Max Smith, formely of DC Talk.

A few months ago I was at my day job and I was listening to Out of the Grey’s 1993 self-titled debut album on my Grooveshark account. My boss waltzes in and sees my home screen, which has a picture of the album cover and asks “Out of the Grey: are they still ALIVE?!” to which I respond with a “yes.” Needless to say, he was surprised that someone as young as I would actually know who Out of the Grey is.Unbeknownst to him, I am well-versed in who Scott and Christine Dente are as I am with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar. I have or have had at one point all of their albums and seen them in concert twice in the 90’s – my parents would take me.

It got me to rethink something I have been pondering for a considerable amout of time now: why can’t the Contemporary Christian Music industry see that there maybe a market for a CCM classic station? One of the things that I hate about CCM radio is they refuse to play anything from the 70’s-mid 2000’s. With the exception of their golden boy Chris Tomlin, its like artists such as Point of Grace, DC Talk, Rebecca St. James, Out of the Grey, Russ Taff, etc have all dropped off the face of the earth.

As a result of this, a whole generation is now coming of age not knowing that TobyMac is famous for being in DC Talk, not just his solo work. They’ll never know who the other two guys are: Michael Tait and Kevin Max Smith. Nevertheless, it’s a travesty that these guys will never know that great band.

Plus, people like retro. They love nostalgia. That’s why classic rock is very popular. That’s why, whenever a long-broken up band (such as Black Sabbath, Fleetwood Mac, the GoGos’s, Aerosmith) return, they return in a major way. People buy their tickets and albums because not only do they like the new stuff, but they also like the familiar faces. From what I saw when TobyMac performed “Jesus Freak” in concert as the encore, the crowd LOVED it.

Also, with CCM, there is one thing that makes it stand out from all other genres: its the same rhetoric from over 2000 years ago. Granted, yes, some of the slang maybe different as well as styles and fashion choices, but the message is the same. Though yes, Christians should try to remain relevant but relevancy for one person is irrelevancy to another. Who knows? Some people may love 80’s hair metal bands.

Additionally, great musicians are influenced by other great musicians. Margaret Becker and Amy Grant. would not exist without Joanie Mitchell. Without Metallica, P.O.D would not exist. Music, generally-speaking,  is a form of building blocks. If CCM doesn’t start both openly promoting older artists, they will be taking away a major building block in creativity. One must be inspired to create, so how come other, older Christian artists inspire a younger generation? Why can’t Amy Grant to a 16-year-old girl who feels excluded because of some of her nonlegalistic ways?

Hands down, Michael W Smith is one of the smartest artists both musically and

In 1984, former keyboardist for Amy Grant Michael W. Smith released "2," the follow-up album to his well-received debut, "Michael W Smith Project."

lyrically in Christian music. Not only can he write though-provoking lyrics, but he’s also a classically-trained pianist.

Smith shows that sometimes you don’t need to be familiar with his previous project, Michael W. Smith Project in order to have any sort of appreciation for his second album, 2.

One of the most remarkable contributions is the use of fellow CCM rocker Dan Huff of White Heart fame. Huff plays guitars on most of the albums tracks.

On the song A Way, which sounds alot like a prayer out of the book of Psalms, Smith pleads with God “You find me waiting for a miracle/ You hear me praying for a plan/ You are the only one prepared to rescue me/ then you take away the distance/ found between the truth and me/ and you give us simple reason to my restless rhyme/ Woa, hide me in the heaven/ You have held within your hand/ And make a way to find a way to soothe my mind.” This is perhaps one of the best tracks on the album because it is basically a prayer.

However, the biggest eye-opener comes on Restless Heart, which features a suprise duet with CCM superstar Amy Grant. Though she is only credited for background vocals on Restless Heart, she is clearly singing a duet with Smith. It is a welcomed surprise nevertheless. Grant and her then-husband Gary Chapman also contribute background vocals on All I Needed To Say.

The greatest thing  about this album, however, is the fact that Smith shows what EXACTLY he can do with his classical piano training. He shows off his classical chops on such songs as Musical Instruments and Wings of the Wind.