Belmont University’s School of Music honored acclaimed singer/songwriter/musician Michael W. Smith with the Applause Award at Saturday night’s annual President’s Concert. The Applause Award is the most distinguished award presented by Belmont’s College of Visual and Performing Arts and is given annually to honor those who have made significant contributions to the arts.
College of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Dr. Cynthia Curtis said, “Belmont’s School of Music was delighted to present the 2015 Applause Award to Michael W. Smith, who is both an icon of Contemporary Christian Music and a caring and generous humanitarian. Michael was a perfect choice for this award because he brings a long list of impressive musical achievements, highly admirable examples of community service and, as a Trustee of the University, is a supporter of Belmont! To top all this… his performance for the concert finale was energetic, joyful and simply fun for the entire audience.”
Smith noted, “What an amazing event. I was absolutely blown away at the talent of the kids there at Belmont. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to see literally hundreds of kids – all with amazing talent – put on a show like that. And to hear them perform my music – – I have to admit to shedding a tear or two. It was a very emotional experience for me. I am so proud of Belmont University. I’m proud to be a Trustee, and I’m proud to recommend Belmont to so many kids that are looking for a great education.”
Smith has sold more than 15 million albums, achieved 28 No. 1 songs, earned three GRAMMY® Awards, an American Music Award and more than 40 Dove Awards. In 2014 he, along with Amy Grant, was honored as “a cornerstone of Christian music,” for his groundbreaking career and significant influence on the genre. During his three-decade career, the West Virginia native has shaped the Christian music landscape with such classic songs as “Friends” and “Healing Rain.”
On National Philanthropy Day in 2014, the Nashville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals named Smith the Philanthropist of the Year, based on his extensive work with Rocketown, which he founded in 1994. Rocketown, the first of its kind in the Southeast, has grown into a model example for Christian-based relational outreach programs across the country. The current facility touts three stages for live entertainment, in addition to Middle Tennessee’s only indoor skatepark and a recording studio, as well as photography, art and dance studios. More than 800 teens from across the region participate in Rocketown programs each week.
Smith has also been actively involved in volunteer service and is the former vice chair of the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. He is an avid spokesperson for sponsoring children through Compassion International and also serves on the Belmont University Board of Trustees.
The President’s Concert features School of Music student ensembles and groups that highlight the musical diversity of the program. The Applause Award is presented during the concert. All funds raised by the dinner and concert provide scholarships for students in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, which includes the School of Music as well as the Department of Art and the Department of Theatre and Dance.
Previous Applause Award honorees include the Grand Ole Opry, Eddy Arnold, Chet Atkins, The Beaman Family Foundation, Vince Gill and Amy Grant, Donna Hilley, Ronn Huff, Martha Ingram, Nashville Ballet, Nashville Opera, Nashville Symphony, Barbara Massey Rogers, Kenneth Schermerhorn, Ricky Skaggs, Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Jerry Warren, Sam Wilson and CeCe Winans.