Kim Walker-Smith began her musical journey in Redding, California as one of the worship leaders for the youth group at Bethel Church. This group, pastored by Banning Liebscher, obeyed the calling to launch a conference in 1999. Staff and all, there were approximately 500 attendees. Multiple conferences were held annually after that point; Kim Walker-Smith, Chris Quailala, and Melissa Howe continued to faithfully lead the crowds into the holy of holies.
Jesus Culture’s title came later when Banning was at the mall; he encountered a guy wearing a “Counter Culture” hat and decided he appreciated the concept, just not the particular message. Out of that experience bloomed the name “Jesus Culture.” This name satisfied the goals of the youth group to bring people together and start a Jesus movement to transform the secular, American culture for the glory of God. By the time 2005 rolled around, worship was intense during these youth conferences. Jesus Culture wanted to capture the sounds being produced on stage in a CD, which resulted in their first album Everything. This record included the covers that Jesus Culture played at that time and students’ prayers.
The band finally took its first trip out of California and went to Atlanta, Ga, where 300 believers congregated to share in their faith. Since that journey to the south, Jesus Culture has visited other states in America and, in 2006, made their way to Melbourne, Australia. Other points of destination have included Germany, France, Switzerland, Brazil, New Zealand, and South Africa. In the midst of these travels, a DVD was put together in 2007 called We Cry Out. Kim Walker-Smith had just returned from a year-long trip to Morning Star Church. She introduced the rest of the band to John Mark McMillan’s song “How He Loves.” The YouTube clip that went viral is her rendition of the song. Originally, she wanted the speaking portion edited out, but Jesus Culture claims the message made its way into the final product because of the powerful impact it has left on over 19 million viewers.
In this video, while Kim Walker-Smith speaks about God’s tangible presence in the room, her eyes are squeezed shut, and her arms lift into the air numerous times. Viewers can sense the Holy Spirit on her, allowing them a chance to encounter Him, too. He’s so infectious that Walker-Smith bows beneath the weight of His power, mirroring the song’s imagery of the tree in the hurricane. She is a woman after God’s own heart and worships with reckless abandon.
In 2008, Walker-Smith broke away for a short while to do a solo album (still under the Jesus Culture label) called Here is My Song. Even though there are five titled tracks with a specific focus, such as “I Surrender,” which talks about giving over everything to the Father, the other five tracks are spontaneous worship. Listeners hear her speak in tongues and sing various praises to the King. Each song knows no bounds as she seamlessly flows from one idea to another by the leading of the Spirit.
As Jesus Culture has evolved, more albums have been created. Since the release of We Cry Out, others that have featured Kim Walker-Smith include Consumed (2011), Unstoppable Love (2014), Let it Echo (2016), Love Has a Name (2017), an album with her husband, Skyler Smith, titled Home (2013), and more. Kim Walker-Smith has, once again, broken the mold by releasing her second solo album, On My Side. What’s special about this album, however, is that it was a studio project, unlike the first album which was live. On My Side presents all-new songs, covering topics from heartbreak to triumph and guiding listeners through Walker-Smith’s past few years of life. In her own words, she says about the record:
Everyone has a story inside of them that needs to be told. The past 4 years of my life have been a journey with God through incredible joy and overwhelming grief, birth and death, pain and betrayal, right alongside hope and resurrection. Through this collection of songs, I tried to share my story of what God has taught me and what I wanted to say about the past season of my life and the new places He is taking me. Throughout this album, there is an underlying theme…He is always with us. He never leaves us. He keeps His promises. He IS on our side. That is the story of this album because it is the story of my life.
To spread the messages in On My Side’s tracklist, Kim Walker-Smith toured the United States through August 2018, making stops in Florida, Georgia, and Tennesse among a few other places.
Following the link to On My Side will give you an opportunity to hear the tracks and learn some of the testimonies behind them.
Featured Image by Edward Cisneros