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Michael W. Smith (Photos by Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Grant)
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Christian Musician Michael W. Smith Motivates Troops on USO Tour

Monday, August 13, 2012

By Christian Pelusi 

For three-time Grammy winner and multi-platinum album seller Michael W. Smith, finding an audience for his brand of Christian music is never difficult. He has a strong, worldwide following but even he was pleasantly surprised by the warm reception he received during his August 5-7 USO tour to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I think what was unique about the Gitmo thing is that I have a huge fan base in the Philippines and Jamaica and we had a lot of Jamaicans and Filipinos who worked there who were in attendance along with every branch of the military and so it was a really great night, I’ll never forget it,” Smith said.

Over 350 servicemen and women crammed into a ballroom at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to hear Smith play for over 90 minutes, followed by an autograph session, photo opportunities and talks with many troops and chaplains. “A lot of people who make that place tick,” he said.

“It was very educational for me. It’s not been the norm for me. And what made it special was hearing from them and hearing about their day-to-day. They would say how much my music affected their lives, but I tried to turn it around and learn more about them and their lives.”

And when Smith extended his gratitude for their service, he found his words just were not enough.

“It seems so inadequate to me,” he said. “‘Thank you’ just doesn’t seem to be enough. I got to play [‘Heroes’ and ‘Patriot’] for them and it was a real special moment. And hopefully they got to get the spirit from where it came from and they seemed to as I got a lot of applause from it. I was very grateful.”

As Smith alludes to, his brand of inspirational music tends to lead to very personal attachments and it seems to resonate even more with members of our military, especially in regards to the two aforementioned songs he wrote specifically for our nation’s troops: “Heroes” and “Patriot.” (Watch some of his videos and messages on Smitty TV.)

“I feel that,” Smith said. “I feel like a lot of what I do is faith-based and inspirational and I think they feel that and appreciate it. I don’t have an agenda when I play and I play ‘Heroes’ and ‘Patriot’ wherever I go, but they come up and tell you: ‘You’re music inspires me to keep going on and persevering.’ And it’s overwhelming.”

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For more images, visit our Michael W. Smith Flickr set. 

Photo caption: Grammy Award winning singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith shares a laugh while performing on August 6 at the U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Grant) 

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