Last night Nashville, TN’s Bridgestone Arena became home to a once-in-a-lifetime, star-studded tribute event honoring Michael W. Smith and celebrating his 35-year career and his 35 #1 hits.
Nashville, Tenn. – 35 Years Of Friends: Celebrating The Music Of Michael W. Smith was packed with over 3 hours of performances from singers including: Amy Grant, Wynonna, Randy Travis with Steven Curtis Chapman, Jordin Sparks with Jordan Smith, Rascal Flatts, The Backstreet Boys’ Brian Littrell, Charlie Daniels, the Gatlin Brothers, Vince Gill with Wayne Kirkpatrick, Matthew West, Avalon, The Oak Ridge Boys, CeCe Winans, Francesca Battistelli, Sandi Patty with Natalie Grant, Ricky Skaggs with the Isaacs, Jason Crabb, Lee Greenwood, Mark Lowry, Jim Brickman, T. Graham Brown and more.
Before the show started, Smith spoke of how he had been kept in the dark about most of the event so he was looking forward to the surprises throughout the night, seeing his songs performed and the rendition that the artists were going to take on them. He stated that “the beauty of the night is how it has brought so many of us together.”
Kathie Lee Gifford kicked off the night bringing Smith and his wife Deborah out to greet the crowd before they took their seats on stage. Smith didn’t stay seated long as he joined several artists throughout the night on his iconic songs and even some of theirs.
Highlights throughout the night included:
- Randy Travis walking out on stage with his wife Mary Travis as his version of Smith’s “Above All” played. An emotional Smith stood as Travis made his way to him before embracing
- After performing “How Great Thou Art” Charlie Daniels brought out his fiddle for “Devil Went Down to Georgia” while Smith accompanied him on piano
- Taped messages from Smith’s dear friends: former President George W. Bush, U2’s Bono and Franklin Graham
- American Idol winner Jordin Sparks joining The Voice winner Jordan Smith performing “All is Well”
- Rascal Flatts putting their spin on “Pray for Me”
- A visibly moved Wynonna, joining Michael Tait, Matt Maher, Avalon and CeCe Winans on “Help Is on the Way” then Smith jumping to the piano to join her for a rendition of his “Majesty”
- Smith’s longtime friend and tour-mate Amy Grant inviting him to accompany her on the piano during their “Love Will Find a Way”
The show closed with all the artists coming back on stage to join-in for Smith’s classic “Friends.”
After playing the piano, Smith embraced the end of the triumphant night moving to the front of the stage to take a bow as his family joined him.
Promoted by Outback Concerts and produced by Tony Conway of Conway Entertainment Group, music lovers experienced over 50 artists from all genres, performing a set list that included many of Smith’s 35 #1 hit singles. With over 45 Dove awards, three Grammy awards, and an American Music award, Michael W. Smith has forever enshrined his mark in the music history books. Smith garnered yet another Grammy nomination in 2018 for ‘Best Contemporary Christian Music Album’ for his worship effort, Surrounded. AWAKEN: The Surrounded Experienceis Smith’s latest release (Feb. 22, 2019).
“35 Years Of Friends: Celebrating The Music Of Michael W. Smith” full setlist:
Phil Keaggy, Mac Powell, Phillips, Craig & Dean, Point of Grace – “Agnus Dei”
Jason Crabb – “Love Crusade”
Ricky Skaggs with The Isaacs – “I’d Rather Have Jesus”
Zach Williams – “I’ll Stand”
David Hamilton – Instrumental
David Hamilton, Jordin Sparks, Jordan Smith – “All is Well”
Matthew West – “Go West”
Charlie Daniels – “How Great Thou Art”
Charlie Daniels with Michael W. Smith – “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”
Jars of Clay – “I’ll Lead You Home”
Rascal Flatts – “Pray for Me”
Avalon with Jay DeMarcus – “I Will Be Here”
Mark Lowry – “Face in This World”
Gatlin Brothers with Phillips, Craig & Dean – “Shine On Us”
Sandi Patty and Natalie Grant – “How Majestic”
Jim Brickman – “Love of My Life”
Michael W. Smith with original band – “Could He Be Messiah,” “Be Strong,” “You Need a Savior”
Randy Travis and Steven Curtis Chapman – “Above All”
Lee Greenwood with Wes King and sons – “There She Stands”
Brian Littrell – “Place in This World”
Michael W. Smith – “Secret Ambition”
Oak Ridge Boys – “Draw Me Close”
Nicole C. Mullen, Danny Gokey, Katinas, Matthew Ward, Calvin Nowell – “Crown Him with Many Crowns, ” “Easter Song”
CeCe Winans with Point of Grace – “King of Glory”
Matt Maher – “This is Your Time”
Laura Story with Francesca Battistelli – “How to Say Goodbye”
Russ Taff – “Healing Rain”
Wayne Kirkpatrick with Vince Gill – “Never Been Unloved”
Mark Hall – “I’m Waiting on You”
Tait, Matt Maher, Avalon, Wynonna, CeCe Winans – “Help Is on the Way”
Wynonna – “Majesty”
Amy Grant with Michael W. Smith – “Love Will Find a Way,” “Thy Word”
All sing including T. Graham Brown – “Friends”
About Michael W. Smith:
Michael W. Smith has been releasing new music regularly and performing around the world to sold-out crowds for the last 35+ years. During his storied career, he’s written over 35 #1 songs, been honored with three GRAMMY® Awards and 45 Dove Awards, one American Music Award, was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and has sold more than 15 million albums. His most recent USA Today, Yahoo! Music and Billboard-acclaimed studio album A Million Lights and Parade, Good Morning America-featured and GRAMMY nominated live worship albumSurrounded have together become his 30th and 31st Top 10 hits on Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart, more than any other solo artist in history. He’s also given back to the global community. Smith has raised funds to battle AIDS in Africa; started Rocketown, a safe haven for young people in Tennessee to meet and find hope; and has helped more than 70,000 children through Compassion International. He has also written several bestselling books, including Old Enough To Know and Friends Are Friends Forever. For more information, visitwww.michaelwsmith.com.
About Outback Concerts:
Outback Concerts is an independent, full-service concert and comedy promoter based in Nashville, TN. In addition to producing hundreds of concerts and events each year, ranging from clubs to arenas across the country and Canada, Outback Concerts also produces the Nashville Comedy Festival. Outback Concerts President Mike Smardak was a 2011 inductee of the IEBA Hall of Fame. In November of 2016, Mike Smardak was honored with a distinguished NATD Award alongside Nashville’s most recognized members of the entertainment industry. In March of 2018, Smardak was honored by the T.J. Martell Foundation with the Tony Martell Outstanding Entertainment Achievement Award. Promoter Andrew Farwell was voted IEBA Rookie of the Year in 2014.
About Conway Entertainment Group:
Conway Entertainment Group is a full-service talent agency comprising live events, booking and talent management. CEG is built firmly on the foundation of Tony Conway’s forty years of experience in the industry, climbing the ranks from agent to CEO of Buddy Lee Attractions, Inc., one of the world’s largest agencies. In 2009, Conway sold his interest in BLA and opened Conway Entertainment Group with the desire to use his expertise from years of representing and negotiating some of the biggest tours, sponsorships, licensing deals, and literary, film and TV projects to come out of Music City.