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Michael W. Smith was born in Kenova, West Virginia. His dad worked in an oil refinery and his mom was a caterer and church secretary. His two passions growing up were baseball and music. He became a Christian at the age of 10 and after graduation, moved to Nashville. Unable to get a record deal, Smitty turned to drugs and alcohol for a short time before coming clean and renewing his faith in October, 1979. He started performing with a Christian group called "Higher Ground" in 1981, the same year he met his wife Debbie. They met in June and were married in September.He finally landed a record deal with Reunion Records and came out with his first album in 1983. In September of that year, two days before his second anniversary, his first child Ryan was born. Smitty continued to record albums, releasing them about a year or two apart. He was soon playing to large crowds as his music was gaining mainstream attention.