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Buoyed by the hit "Come To Jesus", Mindy Smith's One Moment More did the same at Americana radio.
"It's just about the fellowship." Smith certainly doesn't see her music as a vehicle for converting anybody. People who say, 'That's what I've been trying to say but I didn't have any idea how to put it into words.'" Smith cites Buddy Miller's Universal United House Of Prayer as a recent, and singularly prophetic, case of an album conveying a crucial spiritual message and doing so outside of a narrowly religious format.
"That was an amazing record, but it wasn't your typical gospel record," Smith says. I love me some good old Bill Gaither Trio, I'm not going to say that I don't.
I don't know, but that's what I've been taught." Smith might be comfortable with conventional Christian parlance, including the use of a male pronoun to describe God, but it's the tensions between such received notions and the more searching undercurrents in her lyrics that lend her music ballast.
It's this relentless struggle, never taken for granted, that gives Smith's work such moral authority. "I'm not always a good example," she hastens to add, lowering her voice to a whisper and stifling a giggle.
But that wasn't what Smith, who is adopted, encountered after graduating from high school, when her search took her to an ultraconservative seminary just outside Memphis.
"It wasn't healthy," she says, not volunteering the name of the institution.
She talks about being one of God's creatures and about being put on earth for a specific purpose.
She alludes to God working directly in people's lives and to having her prayers answered (or just as often, not).
"I think God is less shallow than we sometimes give Him credit for.