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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: Influential Artists of All Time – Week 1: Michael W. Smith

It’s hard to think of Christian music and not think of Michael W. Smith, who, alongside Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman, have been the artists that have been around the industry the most. Now let me get a few things straight. Michael W. Smith is in no means the pioneer of Christian music. Leave that title to other artists like Larry Norman, Mylon LeFevre, Keith Green, Andrae Crouch, PETRA, 2nd Chapter of Acts, The Imperials and Gaither Vocal Band. But for me, I’ve always felt like Michael W. Smith has been the most influential for me personally, but also influential as an artist in society. Firstly because Michael, alongside Amy and Steven, is one of the only artists, who started their career in the 1980s, to be active currently. But also, I’ve felt that Michael has always had it in himself to re-invent himself if needed to reach a different culture, a different time period, and a different people group, as the years travel on. That’s not to say that any of the aforementioned artists are not musically ingenious, not at all. And I will be discussing artists like Keith Green and PETRA further along in my ‘Influential Artists of All Time’ list. But with Michael being one of the first of many artists to receive crossover success (influence in both CCM and the mainstream arena) throughout his career, his impact and reach, whether it be pop inspirational music, or as a worship artist, is nothing less than extraordinary. Michael’s devotion to creating music that not only is poignant and heartfelt, but also musically fashionable as well as interesting, is what I reckon has been a very big part of his success over the years. Dare I say, that now with Michael into his early sixties, that he could become the Christian version of either Rod Stewart or Johnny Farnham, a man well into his years delivering great hits with no intention of retiring?

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MOMENTOUS MONDAYS: Influential Artists of All Time

To say that this post has been stewing in my mind for the last few weeks is really a very big understatement. This series has been swirling in my mind for months. As my brother undertook what I reckon was perhaps one of the boldest decisions he has ever done with regards to this site (unveil a series about his most influential and impacting albums of all time, all in the span of this last year), I have decided to take up a similar, yet different task. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what constitutes a great artist or band, and what makes a band or artist impactful, and impacting in a society that is continuously churning though and spitting out artists as if they’re nothing more than just a stepping stone for record companies to be famous. Which bands and artists are timeless? Which artists and bands evoke emotion amongst old and young, black and white, across races, religions, creeds, beliefs and even sexual orientations, to create a sense of camaraderie and unity, as well as stir up questions that would’ve otherwise not been discussed had it not been for artists and songs, and the space to create freely and without restriction? Can crossover artists succeed without compromising on fundamental and core values that have made them successful initially in the industry they started off in?

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