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Freedom

(CD - Nov 2000)
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Michael's Favorite Song

Overview

After 18 years of making hit records and writing chart-topping songs, Michael W. Smith settles down not only to make the record that fans have constantly asked him about, but the record that he says he must make before he can go on with his career. This exciting new album is sure to one of the most personally moving and inspiring.

Details

  • SKU: 9780760136362
  • UPC: 602341000222
  • Title: Freedom
  • Qty Remaining Online: 3
  • Publisher: Reunion Records
  • Release Date: Nov 21, 2000
  • Format: Album
  • Media: Compact Disc
  • Music Categories: Instrumental, Orchestral
  • Weight lbs: 0.23
  • Dimensions: 4.86" L x 5.56" W x 0.41" H
  • Features: Instrumental
  • Category: INSTRUMENTAL
  • Subject: Christian - Instrumental

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About The Songs

“Freedom”
I live in Franklin, Tennessee, an area of the South rich with history. It was the site of the Battle of Franklin, a brutal conflict in the Civil War. Thousands died here. I was sitting at the piano reflecting on that and a scene played across my mind. I visualized a young soldier returning home after the war, and I started seeing it as if it were part of a movie. Out of that experience, a soundtrack was born-the score for the movie that was playing in my mind. The same theme returns again and again throughout the record.

“The Offering”
In my mind, I see that same movie, and this is part of the score, a quiet, tranquil moment. It features a wonderful violin solo with me playing piano underneath. It's just a real moment.

“Carol Ann”
Carol Ann was a long-time, close family friend who died recently, suddenly, in a horseback riding accident. That experience just rocked my world. At the memorial service, I sang “Friends.” Well, Carol Ann and her husband Bill were there the first night I ever sang that song, in a small-group Bible study 19 years ago. That's how long we've known each other. That night, I came home and I was just a wreck. I sat at the piano and I cried. But out of that painful moment, I wrote this song. It's been a tough couple of months, but you know what? We're just passing through. This is not our home. And there are better things ahead of us.

“The Giving”
I've been playing this all year and it's turned out so incredible. It was one of the first songs I wrote for the record. It came together in about five minutes. I'll never forget it. I can't even describe what I was thinking about, and I don't know why I called it “The Giving,” but people seemed to really love the title. When I play this tune I just feel like I'm pouring out my heart to God through my fingers. That's the only way I can put it.

“Hibernia”
"Hibernia,” which is the Latin word for Ireland, is the most Irish thing on the record. It's flute and fiddle and big orchestra and drums-it's Ireland all over! A really joyous tune, inspired by my desire for so long to go to Ireland; that, and watching movies set in Ireland, like “Waking Ned Devine.” One day I was sitting at the piano thinking about Ireland, and this is what happened!

“Letter to Sarah”
I ran across a letter, which is one of the most famous Civil War letters. A young Union soldier named Sullivan Ballou is writing his wife, giving her a warning. He doesn't know if he's going to make it. But what a letter! Sullivan loved God and he loved his wife and family, and he writes one of the most beautiful, poetic letters I have ever read. Like a movie, I envision the intense battle, and the soldier writing this letter to his wife. This song is the soundtrack to that letter.

“Freedom Battle”
As I visualized the battle scene, Braveheart must have been on my mind. It's that same huge sound.

“Cry of the Heart”
For a long time I called this tune “Dark Piano.” There have been so many difficult things over the past year or so. One day I sat down at the piano and began improvising. I was feeling a bit down, and when I feel that way, sometimes it's music that touches my own soul in a way that nothing else does. I wrote the song right then, on the spot. It's just this haunting tune on the piano. We added cello, which brings this little tug and tension to the song, a bit of agony. I think it's really powerful, and felt it was real important that this song be on the record.

“Prayer for Taylor”
Taylor was an 11-year-old boy in my son's class, and we finally lost him to cancer. That was so hard. But I remember one night our prayer group went over to Taylor's house. We talked and visited a while, and then my wife was praying with some other godly friends. Taylor was upstairs; he had already lost his leg to the disease. The cancer went away, but then it came back. As people were praying, I sat there, feeling like I didn't even know how to pray. I was thinking, “Oh, God, you know I believe you can heal him. I believe without a doubt, but Lord. .” I don't know, I just felt lost. I got up and walked over to this upright piano in their house and as I sat there, I just started playing before the Lord. In the three or four minutes that I was playing, I wrote this melody, which, to me, was my prayer for Taylor. Believe me, there is some sadness in the song, but we know what the final score is. Taylor just got to heaven ahead of us. He's the fortunate one. It may be bad for us, but it's good for him.

“The Call”
The first part of the record has that cinematic feel, then there's that Irish influence. The last couple songs have a more contemporary feel. “The Call” has a very European sound-not really dance, but it does have a groove under it.

“Thy Word”
I was trying to figure out how to include something that might sound familiar. I got a little creative and came up with an instrumental version of “Thy Word.” It has a different twist, but I think everyone's going to go, “I know that song.”

“Free Man”
“Free Man” is a little “Jeff Beck meets Michael W. Smith,” if you can imagine that. I think it's a great ending to the record. But you also hear a haunting melody of “Freedom” at the end of the number, which just ties the whole thing together.

The Making

Now that Michael W. Smith has created his first all-instrumental release, he’s eager to talk about the process that made it a reality: "Sometimes when I sit at the piano, my imagination just takes off. I visualize these scenes in my mind and write the score to accompany them. What comes out is so cinematic-this expressive, orchestral music."

Michael's ability to create chart-topping pop music is well-documented, and it's a genre of music he obviously loves. But just as actors can become typecast and limited to certain roles, so musicians are sometimes narrowly defined. When the opportunity comes for actors or musicians to express their "other side," it's understandable that they would warm to the creative challenge.

"I'm a big soundtrack guy. That's mainly what's in my CD player — the music from movies like 'Schindler's List,' 'Angela's Ashes,' 'Indiana Jones,' 'The Mission.' I love that stuff. With this new release I've finally written a soundtrack for the movies in my mind. And I'm really excited about it."

"I believe there is a call on my life. It's a mystery to me. But part of that call is the healing that comes to people through music, even simply instrumental music. Sometimes I feel I'm playing as David did before Saul. Remember? When David played, King Saul calmed down. There was something mesmerizing about the music, something that brought healing and gentleness to his spirit. It was a God thing. Sometimes we forget that God can still use music like that."

Interestingly, it is scenes from the Civil War that initially inspired this recording, and melody lines from that theme interweave the entire project.

"I've been writing instrumental stuff for a long time, but about four years ago a scene came to my mind, an image from the Civil War. Maybe it's just because I live in Franklin, Tennessee. There's a lot of history here, including the Battle of Franklin, one of the bloodiest of the Civil War. Thousands of soldiers and officers died here. I've found bullets with a metal detector in my front yard. That great conflict was on my mind, and one day I started writing this little melody as I visualized a soldier coming home, and the war was over. Maybe he had to walk days to get home, but finally, he was a free man again."

As this scene — this movie of the imagination — played across his mind, Michael W. Smith sat at the piano and wrote the score — the Freedom theme, "Freedom Battle" and "Letter to Sarah," the latter inspired by a famous Civil War letter penned by a soldier to his young wife. At times the music is majestic, triumphant, hopeful. At other times, it becomes contemplative, almost haunting. Though inspired by a point in time, "Freedom" takes on a universal tone that spans the years and reflects the hopes, the sorrows, and the joys that confront us all.

The Music

“I’ve finally written a soundtrack for the music in my mind.” –Michael W. Smith on Freedom

Freedom is the album Michael W. Smith has always wanted to do: its instrumental with roots in the historical and personal. The music sways from battle anthems with sharp turns to softer inspirational ballads, filled with the calming power of the Holy Spirit.

For years, Michael has been writing instrumental work, but none of it has ever been recorded. Michael explains, "Some of my favorite music that I have written has never been heard. These songs don’t have words. And I know words can be life changing, but sometimes it only takes the power of a melody.”

This year, through several grief-filled experiences, Michael has rediscovered the healing power of writing music without words: when words can’t express the emotions one feels, music steps in. And he also believes that instrumental scores can bring people the message of Christ. “I believe when people hear this music, by the grace of God, they can be healed. Just like when David played the harp for King Saul, it soothed and comforted.”

Soothing comfort is definitely what Freedom will bring. Fans who have grown up listening to Michael W. Smith are in for a refreshing change — Freedom is music for meditation, prayer, and quiet, something Michael values in the midst of his a busy life, and particularly for him, for those who are dealing with grief. In just a year or two, Michael has battled the death of his friend and mentor Bob Briner, friend and golfer Payne Stewart, the loss of his son's schoolmate Taylor, and quite recently, the unexpected loss of long-time family friend, Carol Ann, in whose memory the record is dedicated.

One evening, late in Taylor's illness, Michael sat at Taylor's home with other praying friends. As the grief and questions washed over him, the only prayer he could fully express was the prayer that came through his fingertips as he sat at the family's piano and spontaneously wrote "Prayer for Taylor." Similar circumstances led to the composition of "Carol Ann" — again, the one most articulate expression of his heart came through the keys of a piano.

These experiences illustrate the power of instrumental music and the ageless themes of "Freedom." Because songs such as these brought peace as they were written, Smith is convinced the record can have a similar impact on all who hear it.

As the mood of the record shifts, listeners are caught up in a celebration of jubilant Irish music-fiddles and flute, orchestra and marching drums. But in the context of the album, it becomes more than a celebration of Ireland, it foreshadows a place of joy where all our pain and questions are finally, fully laid to rest.

"When people listen to this record, I want them to be overcome with hope. Life can be tough, our struggles can weigh us down, but I want this music to be a reminder that God is bigger than all this we see around us. I want this music to soothe the soul and renew our confidence in God's love and care."

Reflecting on the place music occupies in his soul, Michael W. Smith admits, "Sometimes I'm aware that I'm making a record, but other times I just feel like I'm playing for the Lord, and I'd like to think that the Father is smiling."

About The Artist

Fans and friends know that Michael W. Smith isn’t just a musician.

He is a father of five who flies home constantly. He’s a husband of 18 years. He’s the CEO of a record label who gave Ginny Owens her break. He’s the pioneer of a Christian dance club for troubled teens. He’s the worship leader and planter of a community church. And a man who continually returns to Christ for his identity and strength.

Michael says, “Being a husband and a father is not my job, it’s my life.” When on break from tour or in between shows, Michael comes home to ride four-wheels, play ping-pong, ride horses or go to the mall with each of his five kids. Ryan, his oldest, has played guitar on stage with his dad during summer tours. Tyler, 12, plays football. Emily, 8, is the family comedienne. And Whitney, 14, and Anna, 9, both love to sing and have joined in on previous records with their dad.

One night while in Frankin, Tennessee, Michael thought of a way to reach out to teens other than his own. While driving down Main Street on a Friday night, he explains, “I saw kids out on the street getting in trouble with no place to go.” This gave Michael a vision to develop a place where young people could find refuge. Now, “Rocketown” is a non-alcoholic, teen dance club and community center across from the Hard Rock Café in Nashville, Tennessee. More than just providing entertainment, Rocketown impacts teens’ spiritual lives. “We want to offer them Jesus. The love of Jesus. It’s that simple.”

Two years later, Michael’s fatherly heart was also evident in his approach to young Christian musicians. Wanting to nurture new artists, pour his knowledge and experience into them as a mentor, Michael started a record label in 1996, also by the name of Rocketown. One of his first young talents was Ginny Owens, a 24 year old singer-song writer whose songs have now been on several prime time television shows like Felicity, Roswell and others. Ginny is impacting mainstream culture with her creative pop sounds mixed with traditional hymns, found on her first album Without Condition. Acoustic guitar player Chris Rice is also on Michael’s label. Rice’s newest album is called Smell the Color 9.

Lately, Michael and his wife Debbie’s most encouraging project is the new church they started with a planting team of pastors — New River Fellowship, which began meeting in the Smith’s barn. Sunday mornings are worship centered, with almost an hour of intense praise. As he said to interviewer Jimmy Stewart from Charisma & Christian Life, “Worship is not two or three songs. We worship a long time…But nobody wants to stop!” Now the church has grown and meets to the YMCA in Nashville. “It’s a wonderful thing,” Michael told Teresa Lockhart of Living With Teenagers magazine. “I just felt like God laid it on my heart that we need to create a place for our family and other families that really was a true community — an Acts church.”

Through out Michael’s diverse life, Christ, family, and church keep him grounded and strengthen him in times of need. He challenges everyone to “get plugged in spiritually, whether that be a church or a Bible study group. Have some accountability…If you give your heart to the Lord and commit your ways to Him, I believe He’ll make your plans succeed.”

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