Michael Whitaker Smith was born October 7, 1957 to Paul and Barbara Smith in Kenova, West Virginia. A sister named Kim would follow. Michael was a typical boy - active in baseball, his family's church activities, and playing piano. But in not-so-typical fashion, he wrote his first song at age five.
At the age of ten, he made a decision to give his life to Christ. He dreamed of playing professional baseball. Michael attended college at Marshall University in West Virginia but after one semester dropped out to move to Nashville and pursue a career in music. (side note trivia: In 1992 Michael received an honorary Doctorate of Music degree from Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, West Virginia.) The years 1979-1981 are best written by Michael himself in his book It's Time To Be Bold. From chapter 1, we read:
While playing keyboards for the group Higher Ground, I signed my first songwriting contract with Paragon/Benson Publishing Company. I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. I was knocking down $200 a week to do something that I loved. Writing songs for a living meant that I didn't have to wait tables anymore, or work at Coca-Cola, or plant shrubs with a landscaping company.
Throughout his career, Michael has had the opportunity to sing for Presidents and national leaders, and counts among his friends the Reverend Billy Graham and his son, Franklin Graham. He is active in Billy Graham Crusades as well as The Samaritan's Purse, the ministry headed by Franklin Graham. But for all of Michael's accolades, for his involvement in his teen outreach Rocketown, leadership in his local church body, the business of being an artist, an author and a record label executive, Michael sums up his life as this, "to be remembered as a God-fearing man who loved his wife and kids well."