Michael W. Smith Returns to Hot Christian Songs Chart: Music Can 'Transform a Life on Every Level'

Jeremy Cowart
Michael W. Smith

The genre vet's new single debuts ahead of the release of two new albums.

Format cornerstone Michael W. Smith makes his first appearance on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart in over two-and-a-half years, as new radio focus track "Surrounded (Fight My Battles)" enters at No. 48. Smith last appeared on the chart, which blends streaming, airplay and sales data, with "Sky Spills Over," which rose to No. 18 in July 2015.

"Surrounded" marks the singer-songwriter and worship leader's 21st Hot Christian Songs appearance, a history that includes three top 10s: "Healing Rain" (No. 5, 2004), "Christmas Day," featuring Mandisa (No. 2, 2008) and "All Is Well," featuring Carrie Underwood (No. 6, 2014). (The survey began in 2003.)

Smith returns with two new albums released in consecutive weeks: A Million Lights (Feb. 16) and worship set Surrounded (Feb. 23). The former album's title track reached No. 47 on the Christian Airplay chart dated Jan. 27. The live, 12-song Surrounded was recorded during an in-the-round performance Nov. 2 at the Factory in Franklin, Tennessee.

"Music has this transcending ability to transform a life on every level, including the spiritual," Smith tells Billboard. "Helping people to reconnect with why they’re here -- that's what A Million Lights and Surrounded are all about."

In addition to his Christian chart success, Smith scored two top 40 Billboard Hot 100 pop hits in 1991 and 1992: "Place in This World" (which reached No. 6) and "I Will Be Here for You" (No. 27).

Ahead of the debuts of Smith's new sets on the Top Christian Albums chart, he boasts 16 No. 1s, the most among solo males. He's one leader away from tying longtime collaborator Amy Grant's overall record of 17 No. 1s.