Iconic worship artist Michael W. Smith will be giving students insight to his musical success by launching a record label and the Michael W. Smith Center for Commercial Music at Liberty University with the help of Kevin Jonas, father and original manager of the mega-pop trio the Jonas Brothers.
The Christian university, based in Virginia, will launch the MWS center on Aug. 1, helping Liberty students learn the ropes of the music industry. The center will also have its own record label for those who aspire to have Christian or mainstream careers.
According to a statement shared with The Christain Post, Jonas will help on the label side of things while helping the artist make the necessary connection in the entertainment industry.
“Our mission for the university is training and equipping champions for Christ,” Vernon M. Whaley, dean of the School of Music, told Religion News Service. “What I tell my students is it doesn’t matter what kind of music you’re going to go into, God’s called you to take worship to the nations.”
Liberty’s School of Music, the college’s worship music education wing was established in 2005. However, the dean said the new venture will hone in on “mainstream” music.
“The passion we have is not just to train a bunch of people to go into the music industry — or just go into the Christian music industry, for that matter — but to be equipped as musicians that go into the music industry fully equipped to do what they believe God’s called them to do, whether it’s the mainstream market or the faith-based market,” Whaley continued.
Former Christian artist and industry executive, Al Denson will serve as the industry liaison for the MWS center. He has been on the advisory council for Liberty’s School of Music for 14 years and played a big hand in bringing Smith and Jonas to the center.
“These artists remember how hard it was starting out, working years and years to have the opportunity to record on a major label,” Denson said in a written release.
“So when they have a chance to give back to those who are really wanting to seek what they did and walk down the same path, they are more than willing and excited to invest in them.”
Denson pegged Jonas, an Assemblies of God pastor who helped his sons gain pop superstardom, “a liaison to the other side of the coin.”
The MSW center will also continue to provide existing programs, including a Bachelor of Music in commercial music. The program will emphasize artist development such as songwriting, recording, engineering and producing, publishing and producing, and film score production.
The center will also host a new $2 million recording studio for the record label, according to Whaley.