In the midst of promotion for Michael W. Smith & Friends: The Spirit of Christmas, which quickly hit No. 1 on the Billboard Holiday Albums chart, three-time GRAMMY® winner Michael W. Smith was named Philanthropist of the Year by the Nashville Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Additionally, Smith was honored by the Nashville Association of Talent Directors (NATD) for his impact on the Nashville entertainment industry.
On National Philanthropy Day – November 5 – the Nashville Chapter of AFP named Smith Philanthropist of the Year based on his extensive work with Rocketown, which he founded in 1994. The first of its kind in the Southeast, Rocketown over the years has grown into a model example for Christian-based relational outreach programs across the country. Following the tragedy of Columbine in 1999, Rocketown’s board was inspired to grow the scope of programming and move to a central location in downtown Nashville. The current facility touts three stages for live entertainment, Middle Tennessee’s only indoor skatepark, The Hub snack bar, a recording studio and photography, art and dance studios. More than 800 teens from across the Middle Tennessee region participate in Rocketown programs each week.
This past Tuesday evening at The Hermitage Hotel in Nashville, NATD held its annual gala, honoring seven entertainment professionals for their efforts to make Nashville the exciting and vital entertainment mecca that it is today. Hosted by ABC/WKRN’s Stephanie Langston, the Gala honored Smith along with Governor Bill Haslam, Rob Beckham, partner and co-head of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, Vanderbilt University’s Head Baseball Coach, Tim Corbin, Founder and CEO of Parallel Entertainment, J. P. Williams, Demetria Kalodimos, WSMV News anchor and reporter and legendary country music icon Charlie Daniels.
The 2014 Honorees were chosen by the NATD Board of Directors, under the leadership of President Steve Tolman of LogiCom. “Our honorees are from varying entertainment backgrounds and professions, and they have each brought their expertise, their commitment and their vision to ensure that Music City continues to flourish and grow,” Tolman said.