Michael W Smith became one of the most enduringly popular artists on the contemporary Christian music front and also found considerable success as a mainstream artist. In 1981, he signed to Meadowgreen Music as a staff writer, providing gospel hits to such artists as Sandi Patti, Kathy Troccoli, Bill Gaither, and Amy Grant.
His 1983 debut album, Michael W. Smith Project, garnered him a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Performance. Afterward, he changed musical directions and began recording more rock-oriented music in order to reach a younger audience. As a result, some of his songs became more secular and began breaking through to mainstream audiences.