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Grammy winner gives freely to Juneau

Posted: July 11, 2014 - 12:04am
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Michael W. Smith, contemporary Christian singer/songwriter, performs at Centennial Hall on Wednesday with his choir of 250 singers.  Marlena Sloss | Juneau Empire
Marlena Sloss | Juneau Empire
Michael W. Smith, contemporary Christian singer/songwriter, performs at Centennial Hall on Wednesday with his choir of 250 singers.

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 Juneau. His laughter could be heard in the halls, and he even joked around with Gov. Sean Parnell, who introduced Smith at the concert.

“What you are seeing from Michael W. Smith is love being poured out,” Parnell said in his introduction. “Getting the chance to meet him and see the humility that is present … you’ll see a bit of his heart, a lot of his heart, being poured out through his music and the words that he speaks. He is someone who works diligently to bring others up with him. When we all had more feathered hair, 25 years ago, you could see Smith playing in the background for other famous musicians. And yet, he is talented and willing to step up and to be a leader to share his faith and music.”

Smith said for him, it all comes down to personal relationships and treating others with respect, no matter who they are or where they come from.

“I’ve always said in speeches, sermons, teachings and concerts there is no plan B,” Smith said during Wednesday’s concert. “I believe that we’re it. That God wants us to be hands and feet. We have to look at people for who they are becoming. We have no idea what kind of pain people are in. We just have to do what Jesus did. He hung out with the sinners and the tax collectors and hung out with people sometimes the church doesn’t want to hang out with. You know what? We need to get a different perspective. Thank you, Love Inc., for letting me be a part of that.”

For more information on how to be involved in Love Inc. please visit:

www.loveincjuneau.org

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Steve Davis
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Steve Davis 07/11/14 - 06:30 am
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nice

nice to hear about this on Friday when it happened on Wednesday. Perhaps a piece about this on Tuesday would have helped.

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