The Herald (Harare)

8 August 2012

Zimbabwe: Michael W Smith Fever Grips Gospel Fans

There have been media reports that Michael Whitaker Smith will visit Harare for a three-day worship festival that is pencilled in for the Harare Gardens from 26-28 August. According to media reports, the American artiste - who has scooped numerous music awards in his home country -- will perform at the worship festival which is being organised by Crossline Music and Video.

While other international gospel musicians have visited Zimbabwe on numerous occasions before, the visit by Michael W Smith promises to be a mega event given his highly inspirational gospel music backed by his passion for the gospel.

And apart from fireworks expected on this year's worship festival, thousands of gospel music enthusiasts will also be inspired and motivated by Michael W Smith's life story.

His story will be about a young man who recovered from years of drug and alcohol addiction during the early stages of his life.

Speaking to the media in some of his earlier interviews, Michael W Smith - who is both a musician and pastor - explained how he struggled with drugs and alcohol which led him to psychological and spiritual problems when he was still a youth after high school.

His recovery from drugs and alcohol addiction are indications of the power of God, and the changes he experienced in his life made him a powerful source of inspiration to millions of people around the world who both love and appreciate his gospel music.

Describing moments leading to his turn- around from drugs and alcohol, Michael W Smith had this to say: "I was curled up like a baby on my kitchen floor and cried for hours. At the end of the whole thing, I just felt like the weight of the whole world came off my shoulders.

"I felt like God showed up in my kitchen, and I just felt like, Okay, this is the turning point, Lord, I'm going to live my life for you."

According to information on his biography, Michael W Smith - who is now a family man with five children and a wife Deborah Kay Davis -- has during his music career won numerous awards and has also sold 13 million albums with 14 gold and five platinum albums.

What is more interesting, however, is that during the rough patches of his life, Michael W Smith received the support of his God- fearing family which believed in him, and occasionally prayed for his recovery from drugs and alcohol.

And now with only 17 days left before the start of the worship festival, expectations are already high among thousands of gospel music fans who are expected to pay their way in order to enjoy the rare privilege of watching a live performance of one of America's finest gospel music artistes.

According to concert organisers, Michael W Smith -- who has already confirmed his participation - will also share the stage with another award-winning American gospel musician, Aileen Nicole Coleman-Mullen, who returns to Harare after her two previous performances in Zimbabwe.

"Michael W Smith was the first one to confirm and we are now happy to announce that Nicole C Mullen will be joining him at the festival for the third time," said Pastor Herman Chimusoro of Crossline Music and Video during an interview.

Nicole C Mullen, who has done backing vocals for Michael W Smith during the formative stages of her music career in the 90s, is already a darling of many in Zimbabwe due to her music which is essentially a fusion R&B, pop and black American gospel.

While preparations for the worship festival continue to gain momentum, it is important for fans to avoid a possible stampede on the day of the festival by booking early.

"What people need to appreciate is the magnitude of this concert because Michael W Smith is one of the biggest names in America insofar as gospel music is concerned.

So to avoid stampede and last-minute rush, tickets are now available online and selected churches.

"Each day will have a different charge and fans can choose either the ordinary ticket or the VIP ticket," said Pastor Chimusoro.

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