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Michael W. Smith

Michael W. Smith arrived in Nashville from Kenova, W.Va., with small-town charm and a gift for composing. His first big break was as a keyboardist for Amy Grant on her hugely successful Age to Age tour, but soon he was on the radio as a solo artist. "Friends" became a camp classic, and other tracks found their way into church hymnals. His pin-up-boy good looks helped him find crossover fame in the '90s, when he also began addressing issues like the school shootings in Columbine, Colo. A worship disc released on September 11, 2001, arrived at just the right time to soothe the souls of a country in mourning. Smith followed with several more worship releases, but he never abandoned his pop roots.

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