Famous performers are routinely described as humble, nice people in person, but in the case of Michael W. Smith, these over-used adjectives actually appear to apply.
While on an Alaskan cruise organized through Inspiration Cruises, world-renowned Christian singer Smith volunteered himself and a choir of 250 people to provide a concert during their stop in Juneau. The concert, presented to a capacity crowd at Centennial Hall Wednesday, was organized as a way to give back to the Juneau community.
“I love Alaska,” Smith said. “I’m a big outdoors person, and I think this is the Last Frontier. I never get tired of coming here. From my work with (Christian evangelist) Franklin Graham, I know about a lot of the issues and needs you have in your state and even right here in Juneau. Doing a fundraising event to help meet needs felt like a no-brainer, actually.”
Originally organized as a free concert, Smith and his company went a step further when they took the initiative to seek out Love In the Name of Christ to coordinate the event. After speaking with the executive director of Love INC, Ann Lockhart, the event turned into a fundraiser. The $10 admission fee went directly to Love Inc.
“His staff couldn’t be better to work with,” Lockhart said. “Because of him, we brought people from all walks of life together and got Love Inc.’s name out there. Now we have extra funds to go towards our variety of outreach programs.”
Love Inc. coordinates with 26 local churches to help individuals meet their spiritual, emotional and physical needs. The nonprofit cooperation offers many gap services that fill in where government and private services are lacking. Examples include distribution of essential supplies (such as diapers), providing transitional backpacks for those coming out of prison, running food banks and offering basic budgeting and life skill programs.
A volunteer of Love Inc., Victor Leamer, was the DJ for the event, and an excited participant.
“When someone needs help in Juneau, people are always willing and happy to lend a hand, hammer or wallet,” Leamer said. “That’s what Love Inc. does. It’s great to see a Number One single artist come to town and raise the bar even higher for community involvement and live entertainment.”
Smith has recorded three albums this year. His Christmas album, which will be released in October, includes special guests like Carrie Underwood. He has won three Grammy awards, an American Music Award and more than 40 Dove awards, and recently performed at The Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Over the course of his career, he has sold more than 15 million albums.
In person, Smith was very down-to-earth, making sure he had the chance to shake people’s hands and thank them for allowing him to have a concert in (read the rest of the article and view pictures here)