Michael Whitaker Smith was born October 7, 1957, to Paul and Barbara Smith, in Kenova, West Virginia. His father was an oil refinery worker and his mother was a caterer and church secretary. He has one sister, Kim.
As a child, Smith was active in church activities, baseball, and playing piano, writing his first song when he was five. When he was ten years old, he made the decision to give his life to Christ. An early dream was to play professional baseball. During his teens, he was surrounded by a solid support group of fellow believers who frequently gathered to play music.