Connie Smith

Last updated

Connie Smith
Connie Smith Opry 2.jpg
Smith performing in 2007
Born
Constance June Meador

(1941-08-14) August 14, 1941 (age 78)
Occupation
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • actress
Years active1963–present
Spouse(s)
  • Jerry Smith
    (m. 1961;div. 1966)
  • Jack Watkins
    (m. 1966;div. 1967)
  • Marshall Haynes
    (m. 1968;div. 1992)
  • Marty Stuart (m. 1997)
Children5
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Labels
Associated acts

Connie Smith (born Constance June Meador; August 14, 1941) is an American country music artist. Discovered in 1963, Smith signed with RCA Victor Records the following year and remained with the label until 1973. Her debut single "Once a Day" reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart in November 1964 and remained at the top position for eight weeks. The song became Smith's biggest hit and was nominated at the Grammy Awards for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Smith's success continued through 1960s and mid 1970s with nineteen more top-ten hits (including "Then and Only Then", "Ain't Had No Lovin'", "Cincinnati, Ohio", "I Never Once Stopped Loving You" and "Ain't Love a Good Thing") on the country songs chart.

Country music, also known as country and western, and hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s. It takes its roots from genres such as American folk music and blues.

Once a Day 1964 single by Connie Smith

"Once a Day" is a song written by Bill Anderson and recorded as the debut single by American country artist Connie Smith. It was produced by Bob Ferguson for her self-titled debut album. The song was released in August 1964, topping the Billboard country music chart for eight weeks between late 1964 and early 1965. It was the first debut single by a female artist to reach number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs. This song peaked at number one for the week of November 28, 1964, and it stayed at number one for eight consecutive weeks, a record for a female solo artist for nearly 50 years, until it was surpassed by Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" in December 2012.

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

Contents

In the early 1970s, Smith began recording Gospel music more frequently as she became more serious in her Christianity. As she focused more heavily on religion, Smith became known for her outspoken religious demeanor at concerts and music venues. At the same time, Smith spent more time raising her five children than focusing on music. She eventually went into semi-retirement in 1979. Smith would return to recording briefly in the mid 1980s with Epic Records. However, it was not until her collaboration with Marty Stuart in the 1990s that she returned permanently. Their musical friendship would turn romantic, leading to their marriage in 1997. The pairing led to Smith's first studio album in twenty years, Connie Smith . Critically acclaimed, Smith began performing again and has since recorded two more studio albums.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.

Christianity is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and the savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures of Judaism, called the Old Testament in Christianity, and chronicled in the New Testament. It is the world's largest religion with over 2.4 billion followers.

Epic Records American record label

Epic Records is an American record label owned by Sony Music Entertainment, a subsidiary of Sony Corporation of America, Inc., the North American division of Japanese conglomerate Sony. The label was founded predominantly as a jazz and classical music label in 1953, but later expanded its scope to include a more diverse range of genres, including pop, R&B, rock, and hip hop. Epic Records has released music by artists including Glenn Miller, Tammy Wynette, George Michael, The Yardbirds, Donovan, Shakin Stevens, Europe, Cheap Trick, Meat Loaf, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Ted Nugent, Shakira, Sly & the Family Stone, The Hollies, Celine Dion, ABBA, Culture Club, Boston, Dave Clark Five, Gloria Estefan, Pearl Jam, Rage Against the Machine, and Michael Jackson. Along with Arista, Columbia and RCA Records, Epic is one of Sony Music Entertainment's four flagship record labels.

Smith has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, including eight nominations for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She has also been nominated for 1 Academy of Country Music award and 3 Country Music Association awards. Rolling Stone included her on their list of the 100 greatest country music artists and CMT ranked her among the top ten in their list of the 40 greatest women of country music. She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry cast since 1965. In 2012, Smith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Academy of Country Music organization

The Academy of Country Music(ACM) was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Among the founders were Eddie Miller, Tommy Wiggins, and Mickey and Chris Christensen. They wanted to promote country music in the western 13 states with the support of artists based on the West Coast. Artists such as Johnny Bond, Glen Campbell, Merle Haggard, Roger Miller and others influenced them. A board of directors was formed to govern the academy in 1965.

Country Music Association US music industry organization

The Country Music Association (CMA) was founded in 1958 in Nashville, Tennessee. It originally consisted of 233 members and was the first trade organization formed to promote a music genre. The objectives of the organization are to guide and enhance the development of Country Music throughout the world; to demonstrate it as a viable medium to advertisers, consumers, and media; and to provide a unity of purpose for the Country Music industry. However the CMA may be best known to most country music fans for its annual Country Music Association Awards broadcast live on network television each fall.

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.

Early life

Connie Smith was born Constance June Meador on August 14, 1941, to Wilma and Hobart Meador in Elkhart, Indiana. Her parents were originally from West Virginia, and when Smith was five months old, the family returned there. They would later move to Dungannon, Ohio. [1] Her father was abusive when she was a child, which would eventually cause her to suffer a mental breakdown when she was a teenager. [2] When she was seven, her mother divorced her father and married Tom Clark. Clark brought 8 children to the new marriage; Meador brought five, including Smith. The couple would eventually have two more children together, which in total added up to fifteen children. As a child, Smith was surrounded by music. Her stepfather played mandolin, while her brother played fiddle, and her other brother played guitar. On Saturday nights Smith would listen to the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast. [3] While she was a teenager, she was injured in a lawnmower accident, which nearly cut her leg off. While in the hospital recovering, she was given a guitar and learned how to play different chords. Following the recovery, she began to perform in various local talent contests. [4] In 1959, Smith graduated from Salem-Liberty High School as the class salutatorian. [5]

Elkhart, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Elkhart is a city in Elkhart County, Indiana, United States. The city is located 15 miles (24 km) east of South Bend, Indiana, 110 miles (180 km) east of Chicago, Illinois, and 150 miles (240 km) north of Indianapolis, Indiana. Elkhart has the larger population of the two principal cities of the Elkhart-Goshen Metropolitan Statistical Area, which in turn is part of the South Bend-Elkhart-Mishawaka Combined Statistical Area, in a region commonly known as Michiana. The population was 50,949 at the 2010 census. Despite the shared name, it is not the county seat of Elkhart County; that position is held by the city of Goshen, located about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Elkhart.

West Virginia State of the United States of America

West Virginia is a state located in the Appalachian region of the Southern United States, and is also considered to be a part of the Mid-Atlantic Southeast Region. It is bordered by Pennsylvania to the north, Maryland to the east and northeast, Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, and Ohio to the northwest. West Virginia is the 41st largest state by area, and is ranked 38th in population. The capital and largest city is Charleston.

Dungannon is an unincorporated community in Columbiana County, Ohio, in the United States.

In August 1963, she entered a talent contest at the Frontier Ranch country music park near Columbus, Ohio. Performing Jean Shepard's "I Thought of You", Smith won the talent contest and five silver dollars. [6] That day at the park, country artist Bill Anderson heard Smith perform and was impressed by her voice. In January 1964, Smith ran into Anderson again at a country music package concert, where he invited her to perform with him on Ernest Tubb's Midnite Jamboree program in Nashville, Tennessee. [7] After performing on the program, Smith returned to Nashville that May to record demos by Anderson that he planned on pitching to other country artists. Anderson's manager Hubert Long brought the demo recording to RCA Victor Records, where producer Chet Atkins heard it. Also impressed by her vocals, Atkins offered Smith a recording contract, and she eventually signed with the label on June 24, 1964. [6] [7]

Columbus, Ohio Capital of Ohio

Columbus is the state capital and the most populous city in the U.S. State of Ohio. With a population of 892,533 as of 2018 estimates, it is the 14th-most populous city in the United States and one of the fastest growing large cities in the nation. This makes Columbus the third-most populous state capital in the US and the second-most populous city in the Midwest. It is the core city of the Columbus, OH Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses ten counties. With a population of 2,078,725, it is Ohio's second-largest metropolitan area.

Jean Shepard American singer

Ollie Imogene "Jean" Shepard was an American honky tonk singer-songwriter who pioneered for women in country music. Shepard released a total of 73 singles to the Hot Country Songs chart, one of which reached the No. 1 spot. She recorded a total of 24 studio albums between 1956–81, and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1955.

"I Thought of You" is a popular song composed by Jimmy Rollins. Rollins copyrighted it in 1955 and renewed the copyright in 1983.

Musical career

1964–1967: Breakthrough

Smith performing at the Grand Ole Opry, May 2007 Connie Smith-Opry 4.jpg
Smith performing at the Grand Ole Opry, May 2007

Because Chet Atkins found himself too busy with other artists, Bob Ferguson acted as Smith's producer on her first sessions and would continue to work as her producer until her departure from RCA. Smith's first session took place on July 16, 1964, where she recorded four songs, three of which were written by Bill Anderson. [8] One of the four songs recorded during the session entitled "Once a Day" was chosen to be Smith's debut single. The song was rush-released as a single on August 1, 1964, and became Smith's breakout single, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles chart on November 28 and remained at the number one position for eight weeks. [6]

Chet Atkins American guitarist and record producer

Chester Burton Atkins, known as "Mr. Guitar" and "The Country Gentleman", was an American musician, occasional vocalist, songwriter, and record producer, who along with Owen Bradley and Bob Ferguson, among others, created the country music style that came to be known as the Nashville sound, which expanded country music's appeal to adult pop music fans. He was primarily known as a guitarist. He also played the mandolin, fiddle, banjo, and ukulele.

Bill Anderson (singer) American country music singer and songwriter

James William Anderson III, known as Whisperin’ Bill Anderson, is an American country music singer, songwriter and television personality. He has been a member in long standing of the weekly Grand Ole Opry radio program and stage performance in Nashville, Tennessee, since 1961. He has released more than 40 studio albums and has reached No. 1 on the country charts seven times: "Mama Sang a Song" (1962), "Still" (1963), "I Get the Fever" (1966), "For Loving You", "My Life " (1969), "World of Make Believe" (1973), and "Sometimes". Twenty-nine more of his singles have reached the top ten.

"Once a Day" became the first debut single by a female country artist to reach number one. For nearly 50 years the single held the record for the most weeks spent at number one on the Billboard country chart by a female artist. [9] RCA Victor released Smith's self-titled debut album in March 1965 which also reached No. 1, spending seven weeks at the top of the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, and spending 30 weeks on the chart overall. [10] In addition, the album also peaked at No. 105 on the Billboard 200 albums chart around the same time. [11] Dan Cooper of Allmusic called the production of the album to sound as if she was "a down-home Streisand fronting The Lennon Sisters." [12] During this time, Anderson wrote a series of singles that would jump-start Smith's career in the country music industry. [13] Among these songs was Smith's follow-up single to "Once a Day" released in early 1965 titled "Then and Only Then". The song peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard country chart. In addition, its B-side, "Tiny Blue Transistor Radio" (originally intended for Skeeter Davis), was also written by Anderson and peaked within the Top 25 on the same singles chart. [10]

In 1965 Smith officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry radio show in Nashville, Tennessee. It had been a dream of Smith's to become a member since childhood, remembering saying at the age of five, "Someday I’m gonna sing on the Grand Ole Opry." [14]

In the mid-60s Smith was temporarily fired from the Grand Ole Opry for not being on the show for twenty six weeks out of the year, which was the required number of weeks to stay a member at the time. In the 1970s, Smith was nearly fired from the show for testifying about Jesus Christ. [7]

Bill Anderson wrote her next single with Bette Anderson, which was released in April 1965 called "I Can't Remember". The single peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles chart and No. 30 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 singles chart. [15] In October 1965, Smith released her second studio album Cute 'n' Country . [15] The album featured both cover versions of other country songs and newer songs written by Bill Anderson. It included cover versions of songs by such artists as Jim Reeves, Webb Pierce, and Ray Price. [16] Like her first album, Cute 'n' Country reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart and spent thirty weeks on the chart as well. [15] Her next two singles, "If I Talk to Him" and "Nobody But a Fool (Would Love You)", both reached No. 4 on the Hot Country Singles chart and were issued on Smith's third album, Miss Smith Goes to Nashville (1966). [17] The album peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. [18] With her next few sessions, Smith's producer Bob Ferguson felt pressured from RCA headquarters in New York City to market Smith's sound toward more "middle-of-the-road" country pop material. This change of sound was evident on her next two studio albums Born to Sing (1966) and Downtown Country (1967). Both albums featured full orchestras in the background and cover versions of singles by pop artists of the time. [19] Spawned from Born to Sing and Downtown Country were the singles "Ain't Had No Lovin'" and "The Hurtin's All Over", which both peaked within the Top 5 on the Hot Country Singles chart. [2]

During this time, Smith also appeared in several country music vehicle films, where she performed many of her current hit recordings. [20] In 1966, she appeared in the films Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar and The Las Vegas Hillbillys , the latter of which starred Jayne Mansfield. In 1967, she appeared in The Road to Nashville and Hell on Wheels. [21]

In February 1967, Smith released an album on RCA Camden entitled Connie in the Country , which mainly featured cover versions of country hits recorded at the time, including songs by Loretta Lynn and Buck Owens. [22] In May 1967 Smith released an album of songs written entirely by Bill Anderson entitled Connie Smith Sings Bill Anderson .

She later commented that, "...it was an honor, not a favor" to record an album of all Bill Anderson songs. Included in the album was covers of Anderson's own hits such as "City Lights" and "That's What It's Like to Be Lonesome". Also featured was Anderson's "I Love You Drops", which Smith wanted to release as a single; however Anderson wanted to release the song as his own single. Smith stated, "We begged him for that song. But I cut 33 of his songs." It would later become a top ten hit for Anderson. [23] Between 1966 and 1968, Smith had five top ten singles in a row on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart: [2]

"I'll Come Running" (which Smith wrote herself), "Cincinnati, Ohio", "Burning a Hole in My Mind", "Baby's Back Again", and "Run Away Little Tears". "Cincinnati, Ohio" would later inspire the city of Cincinnati, Ohio to declare their own "Connie Smith Day" in June 1967. [23]

1968–1972: New directions

By 1968, Smith began to feel large amounts of pressure from the music business. The stress of touring, recording, promoting, and trying to keep a personal life reportedly led Smith to contemplate suicide but she later stated she never considered the prospect as an actual possibility. [7] These pressures eventually led Smith to seek solace in both her family life and religion, becoming a Born Again Christian in the spring of 1968. [6] [13] Although she did not give up her music career completely, Smith did balance it with a lighter schedule in order to avoid stress. [2]

In 1968-69, she began to record darker songs, including the single "Ribbon of Darkness", among others. Smith stated that it was reflection on her personal life, after recently divorcing her first husband Jerry Smith. [7] Despite her recent personal troubles, Smith continued to enjoy the same commercial success she had before. In 1969 her next single "You and Your Sweet Love" (written by Bill Anderson) reached No. 6 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles chart. This was followed by another top ten single in 1970, entitled "I Never Once Stopped Loving You", which reached No. 5 on the same singles chart. [2] [24] Between 1969 and 1970, she released two collaborative albums with American country artist Nat Stuckey called Young Love and Sunday Morning with Nat Stuckey and Connie Smith , the latter of which was a gospel album. [7]

From 1970 to 1971, both the singles "Louisiana Man" and "Where Is My Castle" became top 20 hits on the Billboard Magazine country singles chart. [25]

In 1971, Smith's cover of Don Gibson's 1960 single "Just One Time" reached No. 2 on the Hot Country Singles chart. [25] An album of the same name was also released, which reached No. 20 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. [26] By the early 1970s, Smith started to incorporate more Gospel music into her regular studio albums and touring show. [2] Smith later stated that by incorporating more Gospel music into her secular recording career would make her leap into Christianity "count". [7]

In 1971, she released her third gospel album, Come Along and Walk with Me , which Smith later stated was her favorite gospel record out of the many she has made. [27]

In 1972, all three of Smith's singles reached the top ten on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles chart: "Just for What I Am" (#5), "If It Ain't Love (Let's Leave It Alone)" (#7), and "Love Is the Look You're Looking for" (#8). [2] In addition, three albums were also released to accommodate the success of the three singles, including a tribute to songwriter Dallas Frazier named If It Ain't Love and Other Great Dallas Frazier Songs . [17]

In November 1972, Smith announced she would depart from RCA the same week that country artist Eddy Arnold also announced his temporary departure. [24] Smith later explained in an interview with Razor & Tie that she felt RCA showed a lack of respect for her and she felt she would have been happier recording elsewhere. [28]

1973–1979: Later career

After parting ways with RCA, Smith moved to Columbia Records in 1973. With her new contract, she insisted that she would be able to record one gospel album a year. [29] She released her first gospel album under the label in November 1973, entitled God Is Abundant .

In addition, the label also gave her the advantage of being able to incorporate more gospel songs into her regular country studio albums. Because of these factors, most of her singles remained out of the top ten, but she did manage to stay in the top 20 most of the decade. [2] That year Smith recorded her first country album for the label entitled A Lady Named Smith with producer George Richey. [28] Smith and Richey co-wrote the album's lead single, "You've Got Me (Right Where You Want Me)", which became a minor hit on the Billboard country chart. [30] However Smith was dissatisfied with Richey's production strategies and replaced him with Ray Baker for her next album, That's the Way Love Goes (1974). [28] Her next single (released on That's the Way Love Goes) was written by Dallas Frazier called "Ain't Love a Good Thing", which peaked at No. 10 on the Hot Country Singles Chart in 1974. [31]

After signing with Columbia, many music critics considered that Smith lost much of the quality that was found in her earlier records with RCA Victor. When reviewing her compilation from her years at Columbia titled Connie Smith Sings Her Hits (1997), Thom Jurek of Allmusic commented that Smith lost much of the "grain" in her voice. Jurek went on to write, "It could be said, that regardless of the material, she never made a bad record; the tunes were carefully chosen it's true, but she never tried to hide the hardcore twang in her vocal style." [30] In 1974 Smith released the singles "I Never Knew (What That Song Meant Before)" and "I've Got My Baby on My Mind", which both reached No. 13 on the Billboard Magazine Hot Country Singles chart. [31] In 1975, she released her second gospel album with the label, entitled Connie Smith Sings Hank Williams Gospel , which was a tribute to the gospel material that Hank Williams recorded. [13] That year, she also released a cover of Williams' secular "Why Don't You Love Me (Like You Used to Do)" as a single. In 1976, Smith released two cover versions of previously made pop hits by The Everly Brothers as singles: "(Till) I Kissed You" and "So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad)". [30]

In 1977 Smith moved to Monument Records. With her new recording contract, she was marketed as a country pop artist and was pressured into recording softer material. While reviewing Smith's 1993 Monument compilation Greatest Hits on Monument , Allmusic 's Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented that she not only recorded country-pop material, but also "heavily produced adult contemporary ballads and big, shiny disco-influenced pop numbers." [32]

Meanwhile, both of Smith's albums under the label stiffed upon release. Her debut 1977 Monument album, Pure Connie Smith , only spawned one single, entitled "Coming Around", which peaked outside the Top 40. Only one single released on the label became a significant hit, a cover of Andy Gibb's 1977 pop hit "I Just Want to Be Your Everything", which peaked at No. 14 on the country singles chart in 1978. [33] Her next five singles on the label continued to descend into progressively lower positions on the country singles chart [33] and because of poor record sales, Smith decided to go into semi-retirement in 1979 to raise her five children. [7] [29]

1998–present: Comeback and current activities

Smith was encouraged to restart her mainstream career in 1985 with a new recording contract to Epic Records. The label released two singles over the course of two years. [24] The first single, "A Far Cry from You" (1985), was written by Alternative country artist Steve Earle and reached No. 71 on the Hot Country Singles chart. [29]

The second single did not chart and Epic failed to release any further singles or an album. In 1986, she made a cameo appearance in Stephen King's horror film Maximum Overdrive as "dead lady in car". [34]

Smith on stage at the Grand Ole Opry Connie Smith.jpg
Smith on stage at the Grand Ole Opry

One day in the mid-1990s, Smith was at her home talking to one of her daughters on the phone. After telling her mother what she was going to do that night, her daughter asked Smith what her plans for that night were. Because she did not have anything fun planned, Smith lied so her daughter wouldn't have to worry about her. After the conversation ended, Smith realized that she didn't need her own children worrying about her at the start of their adult lives and decided that it was time to return to her career. [7]

With country artist Marty Stuart (whom she later married in 1997), acting as the album's main producer, Smith signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1996. Although the label preferred her to record an album of duets, Smith decided to go by her own terms and record a solo studio album. In October 1998 she released her second self-titled studio album. [35] Consisting of ten tracks, nine of them were co-written by both Smith and Stuart. [36] Although the album attracted little attention, [29] it was given high critical praise for its traditional and contemporary style. Kurt Wolff of the book Country Music: The Rough Guide commented that the album sounded "far gutsier than anything in the Reba and Garth mainstream". [13] Thom Jurek of Allmusic gave the release four out of five stars, calling it "a solid effort", also commenting, "...it stands head and shoulders over most of the stuff that's come out of Nash Vegas in over a decade. Even if it doesn't sell a copy, it's a triumphant return for Smith. She hasn't lost a whit of her gift as a singer or as a writer." [37]

Smith alongside her guitar player Rick Wright, 2007 Connie Smith-Opry 5.jpg
Smith alongside her guitar player Rick Wright, 2007

Also in 1998, Smith made a second cameo appearance in a film, portraying a "Singer at the Rodeo Dance" in The Hi-Lo Country starring Woody Harrelson and Billy Crudup.

In August 2003, she released a collaborative gospel album with country artists Barbara Fairchild and Sharon White called Love Never Fails on Daywind Records. [36] In an interview with Country Stars Central, Smith said that she was ill with the stomach flu while recording the album, but, still enjoyed making the record, [38] Produced by country and bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs (White's husband), the album received a nomination from the Dove Awards. [6] The website Slipcue.com reviewed the release and commented that Love Never Fails, "is probably too rowdy for most Southern Gospel fans (who really like tinkly pianos and less-twangy vocals), and while it probably won't wow many country listeners, for folks who are fans any of these three singers, this is kind of a treat. [39]

In November of 2008, Smith joined the cast of Marty Stuart's television series The Marty Stuart Show, which airs on the RFD-TV network every Saturday night. The thirty-minute program features traditional country music performed by both Stuart and Smith, as well as radio personality, Eddie Stubbs. [40]

Since 2008, Smith had been writing new songs for her next album. [6] In August Smith released her first new solo recording in thirteen years, entitled Long Line of Heartaches via Sugar Hill Records. The record was produced by Marty Stuart and includes five songs written by the pair. Harlan Howard, Kostas, Johnny Russell, and Dallas Frazier also wrote songs that were included on the album. [41]

In 2012, Smith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. [42]

Musical styles and reception

Connie Smith's sound is defined by the Nashville Sound musical style, primarily during her breakthrough years in the 1960s. While most Nashville Sound recordings of the time mainly included full orchestras, Smith's sound remained more traditional with its use of steel guitar and her twangy vocals, while still featuring some pop-influenced instrumentation to provide urban pop appeal. Critics have largely praised Smith's use of the steel guitar, which have often been described as "sharp" and "prominent". [13]

Her steel guitar player Weldon Myrick is often credited with creating what Smith has called "The Connie Smith Sound". In an interview with Colin Escott in his book Born to Sing, Myrick recalls how Smith's producer (Bob Ferguson) wanted the guitar to sound, "He came out and said he wanted a bright sound, and he adjusted my controls. I thought it was an awfully thin sound, but it wound up being very popular." [43]

Smith is considered by many critics and historians to be one of country music's most celebrated and respected artists. [28] [36] [2] [44] In his review of Smith's 1996 compilation The Essential Connie Smith , Jurek explained why Smith's vocals are usually compared to Cline's, "Connie Smith is perhaps the only female singer in the history of country music who can truly claim to be the heiress to Patsy Cline's throne. It's not that there aren't many amazing vocalists in the field, and plenty of legends among them. But in terms of the pure gift of interpretation of taking virtually any song and making it a country song of class and distinction, Smith is it." [45] Many artists in the country music industry have cited Smith as a significant musical influence or one of their favorite musical artists. George Jones cited Smith as his favorite female singer in his 1995 autobiography. [36] Elvis Presley had many of Smith's albums in his record collection at his Graceland home and intended on recording Smith's version of "The Wonders You Perform", but never got around to doing so. [7] In a discussion with country songwriter Fred Foster, Dolly Parton famously said, "You know, there's really only three female singers in the world: Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending". [1]

Personal life

Smith has been married four times. In 1961, she married Jerry Smith, a ferroanalyst at the Inter-Lake Iron Corporation in Beverly, Ohio. They had one child together on March 9, 1963, named Darren Justin. (In the late 1970s, Darren went to Europe to become a missionary; he is currently a psychologist.) [7] [46] In the mid-1960s, the couple divorced and Smith married the guitarist in her touring band, Jack Watkins. They had a son, Kerry Watkins, before separating nearly a year after marrying. Shortly afterward, Smith married telephone repairman Marshall Haynes. In the early 1970s, Haynes frequently toured with Connie on her road show. The couple had three daughters: Jeanne, Julie, and Jodi Haynes. [24] After divorcing Haynes in the early 1990s, Smith stated that she would never marry again, [7] however, on July 8, 1997, she married, fourthly, to country artist Marty Stuart, who had been producing her, after writing songs for Smith's 1998 comeback album. Twenty-six years earlier, Stuart had first encountered her after attending her concert: "I met Connie when I was 12 years old. She came to the Indian reservation in my hometown [Philadelphia, MS] to work at a fair. She hasn't changed a bit. She looked great then and she looks great now." [47] Stuart said he told his mother then that he was going to marry Connie Smith.

Smith accounts for the fact they have sustained their marriage as follows: "Make the Lord the center … and commit." [48]

Discography

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1966 The Las Vegas Hillbillys Herself Cameo appearance
Second Fiddle to a Steel GuitarHerselfCameo appearance
1967 The Road to Nashville HerselfCameo appearance
Hell on Wheels HerselfCameo appearance
1986 Maximum Overdrive Dead Lady in Car
1998 The Hi-Lo Country Singer at rodeo dance

Awards, nominations, and honors

Smith has won two awards from both Billboard Magazine and Cash Box . Besides her nominations from music magazines, she has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, one award from the Academy of Country Music, and three awards from the Country Music Association, as well as several nominations from the fan-voted Music City News Awards including one win.

YearAssociationCategoryResultRef.
1964 Billboard Magazine Most Promising Female Country ArtistWon [49]
1965 Grammy Awards Best Country and Western Single – "Once a Day"Nominated [49]
Best New Country and Western ArtistNominated [49]
Best Country & Western Vocal Performance, Female – "Once a Day"Nominated [49]
Billboard MagazineMost Promising Female Country ArtistWon [49]
Billboard MagazineFavorite Female Country PerformerNominated [49]
Favorite Album (1964–1965) – Connie SmithNominated [49]
Cash Box Most Promising Female Country VocalistWon [49]
Country Music ReviewMost Promising Female SingerWon [49]
1966Grammy AwardsBest Sacred Recording – Connie Smith Sings Great Sacred SongsNominated [49]
Best Country and Western Vocal Performance, Female – "Ain't Had No Lovin'"Nominated [49]
Billboard MagazineFavorite Female Country PerformerNominated [49]
Favorite Country Album – Cute 'n' CountryNominated [49]
Cash BoxMost Programmed Female ArtistWon [49]
Country Music Life AwardFavorite Female ArtistWon [49]
Record World Top Female VocalistWon [49]
Most Outstanding Female Country and Western VocalistWon [49]
1967Billboard MagazineTop Country Artist, Female VocalistNominated [49]
Cash BoxMost Programmed Female ArtistNominated [49]
Record WorldTop Female VocalistNominated [49]
Country Music Association Awards Female Vocalist of the YearNominated [49]
1968Grammy AwardsBest Country & Western Solo Vocal Performance, Female – "Cincinnati, Ohio"Nominated [49]
1969 Academy of Country Music Top Female VocalistNominated [50]
Grammy AwardsBest Country Vocal Performance, Female – "Ribbon of Darkness"Nominated [49]
1970Country Music AssociationFemale Vocalist of the YearNominated [49]
1971Grammy AwardsBest Sacred Performance – "Whispering Hope" (with Nat Stuckey)Nominated [49]
1972 Music City News Awards Top Female VocalistNominated [49]
Country Music AssociationFemale Vocalist of the YearNominated [49]
1974Grammy AwardsBest Inspirational Performance – "All the Praises"Nominated [49]
Music City News AwardsTop Female VocalistNominated [49]
1975Music City News AwardsTop Female VocalistNominated [49]
1976Grammy AwardsBest Gospel Performance – Connie Smith Sings Hank Williams GospelNominated [49]
1979Music City News AwardsGospel Group/Act of the YearWon [51]
2002 Country Music Television 40 Greatest Women of Country Music – Rank (#9)Won [52]
2007Country Universe100 Greatest Women – Rank (#24)Won [53]
2010Grammy AwardsBest Country Collaboration with Vocals – "Run to You" (with Marty Stuart)Nominated [54]
2012Country Music AssociationCountry Music Hall of Fame inductionWon[ citation needed ]
2017 Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Country Artists of All Time – Rank (#69)Won [55]

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References

Footnotes
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  49. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 Escott, Colin, Born to Sing, p. 36.
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