Connie Smith along with Garth Brooks and Hargus "Pig" Robbins join Country Music Hall of Fame

From The Tennessean - March 7, 2012

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Garth Brooks fiddled with the buttons on his shirt backstage at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as he explained the big difference between himself and his fellow 2012 Country Music Hall of Fame inductees. In his mind, inductions for famed session player Hargus "Pig" Robbins and veteran country singer Connie Smith are long overdue...

Garth Brooks, Robbins and Smith were all on hand to hear their names read, and while Brooks was surprised at his inclusion, Connie Smith said she and her country star husband Marty Stuart predicted the superstar's entry long before the announcement.

Before Smith walked out on the arm of husband Marty Stuart, Kix called the 45-year Opry member one of the "prettiest, classiest ladies in this town" and quipped that Stuart "way over married."

The couple walked out to a standing ovation. Stuart took a place beside Robbins, patted his back and whispered in his ear as his wife started to speak about her tenure in Nashville.

"On my very first session I remember we were recording and something messed up and (producer) Bob (Ferguson) said, 'Can we take that from the turnaround?' And I said, 'What's a turnaround?'" she recalled to laughs. "(The other singers) were laughing and I thought they were laughing at me, but now I understand when you get a greenhorn this green; it's kind of cute."

Smith will be inducted as a "Veterans Era Artist," a category is open to singers 45 years after they first reach national prominence.

Smith, 70, has long been considered one of the genre's most stellar voices. In 2002, CMT ranked Smith at No. 9 on their list of The Forty Greatest Women in Country Music. The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards called Smith "the real deal" and Dolly Parton counts herself as one of Smith's biggest fans.

"You know, there's really only three female singers in this world," Parton once said, "Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending."

Smith was born in Elkhart, Ind., and discovered by Bill Anderson at age 22 performing a Jean Shepard song in an Ohio talent contest. In early 1964, the pair met again and Anderson invited her to Nashville to sing on Ernest Tubb's Midnite Jamboree. That was in March, and in May she returned to Music City to record a demo, which Anderson, along with his manager Hubert Long, used to convince Chet Atkins to sign Smith to RCA Victor Records.

Her first single "Once a Day," which featured fellow inductee Robbins on piano, was soon released and became an eight-week No. 1 song. "Once a Day" was the first time a debut single from a female country artist had topped the charts.

Her self-titled debut album was released in 1965, and by this time Smith's soaring voice had already made her a bonafide star. Smith went on to rack up 30 Top 20 hits. She semi-retired in 1979 to raise her five children.

By the early '90s, Smith refocused on her career, signed a record deal with Warner Bros. Records and started working with Stuart as her producer. The two fell in love while working together and were married in 1997. Last year, Smith released her 53rd album Long Line of Heartaches, which Stuart also produced.

"I've loved country music as long as I can remember," Smith said. "To come to town and get inducted into the Opry in 1965, all I wanted to do was hear my record on the radio."

Smith and Brooks have more in common than the country music genre and their induction class. Like Smith, Brooks also took time off to be a parent. But as Kix Brooks pointed out, the superstar entertainer racked up quite a history of record-breaking stats.

Read the entire article at The Tennessean.com

 

Podcast: Connie Smith on Coffee, Country & Cody

Bill Cody with Connie Smith, recorded August 25, 2011 at WSM Radio. Select a player option below and press the play button.

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BMI Celebrates Connie Smith's 'Long Line of Heartaches'

cd release

Old friends and stone-cold country aficionados gathered to celebrate the release of Connie Smith's "Long Line of Heartaches" at an intimate reception hosted by BMI on Thursday, September 8. Smith and her band performed a short set featuring cuts from the acclaimed new Sugar Hill Records release, which is already being praised by many critics as the best country album of the year. Pictured are BMI's Clay Bradley, Dallas Frazier, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, Sugar Hill Records' Cliff O'Sullivan, and Gaylord Entertainment's Steve Buchanan.

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Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, and Ricky Skaggs celebrate the release of Smith's "Long Line of Heartaches" on September 8 at BMI.

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Connie Smith performs a selection of singles from her latest album "Long Line of Heartaches" at a BMI-hosted reception on September 8. The album also includes five singles either written or co-written by Smith, including the title track, which she and husband Marty Stuart composed.

releaseA highlight of BMI's recent reception celebrating the release of Connie Smith's "Line of Heartaches" was Smith's performance of "A Heart Like You," which drew whoops and audible awe from the crowd, appreciative of both the delivery and craftsmanship. Written by revered songwriter Dallas Frazier (left), "A Heart Like You" is the first song the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Famer has penned in 30 years, and his 69th composition recorded by Smith.

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Nashville Mayor Karl Dean drops by BMI's "Long Line of Heartaches" album release party to congratulate Connie Smith.

 

Reviews:

The Boston Globe.com - READ
No Depression - READ
The Tennessean - READ
Associated Press - READ
Country Standard Time - READ

Articles:

CMA Close Up - READ
Philly.com - READ
Interview with Suite 101 - READ
Knoxville.com - READ
The Daily Times - READ
San Francisco Examiner - READ

CONNIE SMITH'S LONG LINE OF HEARTACHES, HER FIRST CD IN 15 YEARS, OUT TODAY ON SUGAR HILL RECORDS

connie smithAugust 23, 2011

"From the torch ballad "I'm Not Blue" to the dance-floor shuffle of "Anymore", Long Line Of Heartaches serves as a welcome reminder of why Smith ranks among country music's most beloved artists." - Associated Press

"The album is ample proof, if it were ever needed, that Connie Smith was, and still is, one of the finest female vocalists ever to grace country music." – Four Stars, Maverick Magazine

"An immaculately recorded collection that demonstrates the power of straight-down-the-line country." – Nashville Scene

Click here to preview tracks from Long Line Of Heartaches.

Nashville, TN (August 23rd, 2011) New recordings by the country music legend Connie Smith, long acclaimed as one of the greatest singers in the history of the genre have been as rare as the voice and knowing singing she brings to them. Long Line of Heartaches, her first full album of new material since 1998 (and only her second since 1978) is an event in the making. That's not just for the rarity, or because her legions of fans have so long awaited this news, but because in its range of undiluted traditional country moods, themes, rhythms and sound, this new Sugar Hill release is simply, unmistakably a new Connie Smith masterpiece, offering the pleasures of the very best that saw release during her remarkable run of recordings during the 1960s and'70s.

"And that," she says. "is exactly what I wanted to accomplish. I've had people ask me what this album was going to be like, since it's been a long time since they've heard me on record, but my musical tastes have remained the same. I wanted this to be traditional country, and it is."

"One of the reasons that I wanted to do this recording, and it's a personal reason, is that I have such a deep love for traditional country music. We can talk about the music slipping away, or we can do something about it. The only way I know to do something about it is to keep singing what I've always loved."

The album's dozen new tracks, potent songs of heartache, joy, and spirit recorded at Nashville's celebrated RCA Victor Studio B, where Connie recorded most of her chart-topping hits in her first years as a recording artist, include five new traditional country songs co-written by Connie and husband Marty Stuart, the project's producer. Memorable songs come from long favored Smith sources such as icons Harlan Howard, Foster & Rice, Kostas, Johnny Russell and Smith's + longtime collaborator Dallas Frazier. Frazier's song "A Heart Like You" becomes the 69th Frazier composition that Smith has recorded – breaking his 30 years of songwriting silence, an event within itself.

Having become an overnight country sensation in 1964 when her first single, "Once a Day", became a number one hit, the first time a female country singer's debut single accomplished that. Connie Smith enjoyed a string of hits in the following years that have become country standards, including "Ain't Had No Lovin'", "Just One Time", "Run Away Little Tears" "I never Once Stopped Loving You" and "The Hurtin's All Over". She became a star whose iconic voice has influenced other singers for decades. She has recorded a string of 53 albums notable for their quality and range.

To this legacy she now adds Long Line of Heartaches, featuring her band The Sundowners and, for the first time, her three daughters, Julie, Jeanne and Jodi who add striking family harmonies on the contemporary hymn "Take My Hand."

"I still love to sing as much as I ever did. I could sing at the kitchen sink and I'd be happy. I feel it is my destiny to sing." Country music fans everywhere should rejoice in the fact that we get to be a part of that destiny.

CONNIE SMITH TOUR DATES

08-23 Nashville, TN - Grimey's
08-26 Louisville, KY - Ear-X-Tacy
08-27 Knoxville, TN - Disc Exchange
09-01 Du Quoin, IL - DuQuoin State Fair
09-07 Nashville, TN - Music City Roots
09-16 Idabel, OK - Choctaw Idabel Casino
09-17 Pocola, OK - Choctaw Pocola Casino
09-23 Pigeon Forge, TN - Country Tonite Theatre
10-01 Sandstone, MN - Midwest Country Music Theater
10-08 Renfro Valley, KY - Renfro Valley Entertainment Center - New Barn
10-12 Americana Music Convention - Showcase time tba
01-14 Weirsdale, FL - Orange Blossom Opry
02-03 Pace, FL - Farmer's Opry
02-04 Weirsdale, FL - Orange Blossom Opry
04-17 St. Cloud, MN - Paramount Theatre

 

With Long Line of Heartaches, Connie Smith rightfully resumes her place in the spotlight

nashville scene Miss Smith Returns
by EDD HURT

Country music turns the losses and defeats of ordinary people into art that can seem all too ordinary — that's its appeal and its curse. The career of the great country singer Connie Smith is a case in point, since Smith is a remarkable vocalist who never over-dramatizes her narratives of cheating husbands and long-suffering wives. Smith's body of work has never received the sort of critical scrutiny lavished upon Tammy Wynette or Loretta Lynn, but that's changing. With her husband, Marty Stuart, she's made her first full-length record in 15 years, Long Line of Heartaches, and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has selected her as their newest artist-in-residence — the first woman to be so honored. Her career may be a triumph of the everyday, but it's never been ordinary.

Cut with Stuart producing at RCA's famed Studio B — where Smith made her classic '60s work for RCA Victor — Long Line of Heartaches takes up where she left off in her glory days. It reunites her with songwriter Dallas Frazier, who penned many of her songs in the '60s and '70s, and features writing by Smith and Stuart along with material by such venerated tunesmiths as Kostas Lazarides, Patty Loveless and Harlan Howard. It's an immaculately recorded collection that demonstrates the power of straight-down-the-line country.

Born Constance Meador on Aug. 14, 1941, in Elkhart, Ind., Smith came from a musical family. She began singing on The Saturday Night Jamboree, a live 15-minute television show in Huntington, W.V. "Their girl singer, who had been there for years, had gotten married and moved to California," Smith says. "They wanted me to audition, and I did, and I won. For about nine months, I sang on that TV show."

In 1963, Smith entered a talent show at a country music park called Frontier Ranch, near Columbus, Ohio. "Bill Anderson was there that week," she remembers. "At that point, I did not know about Bill Anderson. I had to play my own accompaniment on the guitar, and I only played in the key of C. I sang a Jean Shepard song called 'I Thought of You,' and won the contest. My prize was five silver dollars and the chance to sing on the Grand Ole Opry portion of the show that night, which Bill Anderson was doing."

Smith saw Anderson again about six months later at another show in Ohio. Standing in line to get autographs like any other fan, she received an invitation from the songwriter: "Bill said, 'You like to sing so much, why don't you come to Nashville?' And I thought, 'Yeah, like you can just come to Nashville.' " But you can — and she did — and a demo record she made for Anderson made its way to RCA producer Chet Atkins, who signed her to the label in June 1964.

Over the next nine years, Smith made a series of albums and singles for RCA with producer Bob Ferguson. She says she shared the workload with Ferguson, who died in 2001. "He'd look for songs, I'd look for songs, and we'd get together and listen to them," Smith recalls. "I learned to respect his opinion, and the wonderful thing about it was he respected mine."

One songwriter Smith and Ferguson pulled into their orbit was the Oklahoma-born Dallas Frazier, who had already hit the charts with the rock 'n' roll tune "Alley Oop." Frazier would go on to pen 69 songs for Smith — written with Glenn Ashworth, his "A Heart Like You" appears on Long Line of Heartaches — and he remembers their relationship fondly.

"I met Connie sometime in the early part of '65," Frazier says. "I was with Ray Baker, who was my publisher, and it might have been that Ray pitched one of my songs to her — one of the first was 'Ain't Had No Lovin',' which was '66, and it went to the Top 5. My own vocal range was kinda close to hers, and a lot of times my demos were very close to her range."

Smith recorded songs by Frazier, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Gordon Lightfoot during her tenure at RCA. Such albums as 1965's Connie Smith and Cute 'n' Country featured her hard-edged voice on top of spare arrangements only occasionally marred by the countrypolitan goop Atkins and Ferguson deemed suitable for an artist with crossover potential.

"It definitely wasn't my choice," Smith says of such later RCA albums as I Love Charley Brown, which sported string arrangements, too many background singers and fewer of Weldon Myrick's steel-guitar licks. "It came down from New York. They wanted me to go middle-of-the-road, because that would sell more records. They'd say, 'You can do more than country,' and I'd say, 'I don't wanna do more than country.' "

Some of Smith's late-'60s recordings are remarkable — her 1968 version of Cy Coben's "Burning a Hole in My Mind" demonstrated her ability to sing a difficult chromatic melody. But she was unhappy with RCA and left in 1973 to record for Columbia, Monument and Warner Bros., and to sing on the Grand Ole Opry.

Long Line of Heartaches rectifies the situation nicely. "The arrangements and songs were carefully considered," says Stuart. "We kept writin' songs, and one day we woke up, and it seemed like they all strung together like a string of pearls. When I heard the sound of her voice comin' back through the speakers at Studio B, it seemed like the place welcomed her back home."

Smith sounds fine throughout Long Line — the no-nonsense phrasing is as sharp as ever. She says she's looking forward to performing at the Hall of Fame, which plans to feature her in three themed segments over a few weeks. Yet the singer remains modest and pragmatic about the honors being bestowed upon her. As she says, "I've been workin' a bunch on it, and I'm excited and scared and all the things you can think of."

Email music@nashvillescene.com.

 

Review - Maverick-Country.com ...

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Review - Flyinshoes ...

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RADIO INTERVIEWS:

BBC: Bob Harris show - link
BBC: Ricky Ross show - link
BBC: Marie Crichton show - link
Mike Smith Radio - link

LONG LINE OF HEARTACHES IS #29 ON THE PLAYLIST FOR WILLIE MORGAN'S "RED HOT & COUNTRY" on CMR NASHVILLE

 

Review from Country Music People
CONNIE SMITH
Long Line Of Heartaches

Rarely have I been quite so excited about a new album, and I've had to keep it to myself for a couple of months (with a release date of Aug 23rd) since the promo arrived. New Connie Smith albums are rare these days. This is her first full album of new material since 1996 (and only her second since 1978). George Jones named her his favourite female singer, and Dolly Parton once famously said, "There are only three female singers in the world; Streisand, Ronstadt and Connie Smith". My own take on it would be Wynette, k.d. lang, and Connie Smith... READ MORE

 

HOUSTON PRESS BLOG - Connie Smith: Classic Country Queen Returns With New Heartaches

By Chris Gray Thu., Aug. 4 2011

People often get a bit confrontational with Lonesome Onry and Mean about "country music," like the last time we went to the bank in our father's little ranching town in Central Texas. As soon as we were introduced as a "music writer," one fellow - the local tractor dealer - said, "Well, that stuff that's on the radio these days ain't country" like it was a fact that he and he alone had only recently discovered.

We are also occasionally sucked into the endlessly circular chats on Facebook, usually on some retro country artist's page, about how it sucks that so-and-so artist isn't on the radio and that Carrie Underwood, etc. "ain't country." These are usually people with their heads buried in the sand, not willing to pull their head out and take a look until Hank Williams returns from the grave. The conversations usually go, "Hag, George Jones, Johnny Paycheck, blah blah blah."

Well, if you happen to be one of those people who aren't happy unless everything sounds like the country classics, you happen to be in luck. Connie Smith, one of the absolute golden female voices of '60s and '70s country music, has just released Long Line of Heartaches (Sugar Hill) her first album of new material since 1996. And she absolutely nails it.
Smith works her way through a dozen stone-cold country tearjerkers, quick and dirty lyrical dissections of broken-heart syndrome. Half the tunes are fresh from the pens of Smith and husband/writing partner Marty Stuart, while the others come from heavyweights like Kostas, the late Harlan Howard and the vastly underrated Johnny Russell. Super-writer Dallas Frazier, who wrote so many of Smith's hits, came out of retirement to contribute a new tune, "A Heart Like You."

Lonesome Onry and Mean caught up with Smith at Stuart's offices in Nashville Tuesday.

Lonesome Onry and Mean: You've only recorded one other record since you semi-retired in the '70s. Why a new record right now?

​Connie Smith: Marty has been trying to get me to do this for some time. I've got five kids, seven grandkids, and a very busy husband, so I've been pretty occupied with life, but I knew the clock was ticking. I'll be 70 years old in two weeks, so it's like now or never. But it's deeper than that.

Dallas Frazier approached us a year or so ago with a new song he'd written and we put a hold on it [in the Nashville system, artists are able to "put a hold" on a song they may be interested in covering so the song isn't recorded by someone else first]. And then we got offered another great song through Kostas, Patty Loveless and her husband Emory Gordy, Jr., so we put a hold on that one. And that's when Marty said, "Now's the time to get serious."

The bonus was that Marty arranged for RCA Studio B, where all my original hits were cut. I knew that was going to make the work comfortable. So it really was time to do the record. Add to that that I got to use my band. Marty says he was only a guitar player, but he produced it and it wouldn't have happened or turned out so well without him.

LOM: These are all such classic country lyrics, Loretta and Tammy kind of stuff. And several of the tunes you and Marty co-wrote just scream Texas audience to me, especially "You and Me," which has that perfect Texas dancehall beat.

CS: You know, when I was working all the time in the '60s and '70s, I probably spent ten days a month in Texas. There were so many big clubs in Houston back then, and we played them all. So I get that part of the country audience. I actually broke out of Houston and Atlanta.

LOM: You blew up so quickly, getting to No. 1 in the first three months of your career with your first single ("Once a Day"). And you had such an incredible string of records in the charts. What was the biggest thrill of that period?

CS: I was driving through the hills of West Virginia on my way to Nashville when "Once a Day" came on the radio [laughs]. And we were driving through the hills, so I literally leaned out the passenger side window and raised the antenna as high as it would go because I didn't want it to fade out.

I know that doesn't seem like much, but I always dreamed of hearing myself on the radio. So I think that was my biggest thrill.

LOM: My dad lives in the country in Central Texas, and he was the first person to get me to watch Marty's show on RFD network. And the first time he got me to watch it, you were on.

CS: Actually I'm on every episode. I guess I'm what you'd call the "girl singer." The Porter Wagoner Show is the template that Marty uses for the show, so I think it gives the show a kind of classic look.

LOM: Who are some of the current young female acts that have caught your attention?

CS: Oh, I just love the Quebe Sisters. We had them on in the first season, and we've had them back for at least one segment every year. They're sensational.

LOM: Your voice is in such great shape. How do you take care of an instrument like that?

CS: [laughs] Well, I don't think it's in very good shape. I really should've taken a lot better care of it than I have. I guess I've just been lucky in that.

LOM: I think men all over the country are dying to ask you this: Whatever possessed you to marry that wild hillbilly Marty Stuart?

CS: [laughs] Marty and I used to write together and that's when I discovered what a beautiful heart he has. And I fell in love with that guy. Now I actually get nervous standing by him when we are performing because he is so talented. I know that if I sing a little off-key, he knows!

Long Line of Heartaches will be released August 23.

CS: Oh, I just love the Quebe Sisters. We had them on in the first season, and we've had them back for at least one segment every year. They're sensational.

LOM: Your voice is in such great shape. How do you take care of an instrument like that?

CS: [laughs] Well, I don't think it's in very good shape. I really should've taken a lot better care of it than I have. I guess I've just been lucky in that.

LOM: I think men all over the country are dying to ask you this: Whatever possessed you to marry that wild hillbilly Marty Stuart?

CS: [laughs] Marty and I used to write together and that's when I discovered what a beautiful heart he has. And I fell in love with that guy. Now I actually get nervous standing by him when we are performing because he is so talented. I know that if I sing a little off-key, he knows!

Long Line of Heartaches will be released August 23.

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COUNTRY QUEEN CONNIE SMITH'S LONG LINE OF HEARTACHES, HER FIRST CD IN 15 YEARS, OUT AUGUST 23rd ON SUGAR HILL RECORDS

longLineNew recordings by the country music legend Connie Smith, long acclaimed as one of the greatest singers in the history of the genre have been as rare as the voice and knowing singing she brings to them. Long Line of Heartaches, set for release on August 23rd, her first full album of new material since 1996 (and only her second since 1978) is an event in the making. That's not just for the rarity, or because her legions of fans have so long awaited this news, but because in its range of undiluted traditional country moods, themes, rhythms and sound, this new Sugar Hill release is simply, unmistakably a new Connie Smith masterpiece, offering the pleasures of the very best that saw release during her remarkable run of recordings during the 1960s and'70s.

"And that," she says. "is exactly what I wanted to accomplish. I've had people ask me what this album was going to be like, since it's been a long time since they've heard me on record, but my musical tastes have remained the same. I wanted this to be traditional country, and it is."

"One of the reasons that I wanted to do this recording, and it's a personal reason, is that I have such a deep love for traditional country music. We can talk about the music slipping away, or we can do something about it. The only way I know to do something about it is to keep singing what I've always loved."

The album's dozen new tracks, potent songs of heartache, joy, and spirit recorded at Nashville's celebrated RCA Victor Studio B, where Connie recorded most of her chart-topping hits in her first years as a recording artist, include five new traditional country songs co-written by Connie and husband Marty Stuart, the project's producer. Memorable songs come from long favored Smith sources such as icons Harlan Howard, Foster & Rice, Kostas, Johnny Russell and Smith's longtime collaborator Dallas Frazier. Frazier's song "A Heart Like You" becomes the 69th Frazier composition that Smith has recorded – breaking his 30 years of songwriting silence, an event within itself.

Having become an overnight country sensation in 1964 when her first single, "Once a Day", became a number one hit, the first time a female country singer's debut single accomplished that. Connie Smith enjoyed a string of hits in the following years that have become country standards, including "Ain't Had No Lovin'", "Just One Time", "Run Away Little Tears" "I never Once Stopped Loving You" and "The Hurtin's All Over". She became a star whose iconic voice has influenced other singers for decades. She has recorded a string of 53 albums notable for their quality and range.

To this legacy she now adds Long Line of Heartaches, featuring her band The Sundowners and, for the first time, her three daughters, Julie, Jeanne and Jodi who add striking family harmonies on the contemporary hymn "Take My Hand."

"I still love to sing as much as I ever did. I could sing at the kitchen sink and I'd be happy. I feel it is my destiny to sing." Country music fans everywhere should rejoice in the fact that we get to be a part of that destiny.

 

CONNIE SMITH SELECTED AS 2011 ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE
AT THE COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME® AND MUSEUM

Intimate Ford Theater Performances Slated for August 22, August 29 and September 12

"You know, there's really only three real female singers in the world.
Streisand, Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending."
-- Dolly Parton

NASHVILLE, Tenn., July 1, 2011 – Legendary vocalist Connie Smith will bring her incomparable voice, her catalog of hits and some of her favorite collaborators when she takes the Ford Theater stage as the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum's 2011 Artist-in-Residence. Smith will serve as host and curator for the intimate evening performances, which are slated for August 22, August 29 and September 12 at 7:00 p.m.

Established in 2003, the Museum's residency program annually honors a musical master who can be credited with contributing a large and significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. Honorees are given a blank canvas—the Museum's acoustically pristine, 213-seat Ford Theater—and are encouraged to lend their own creative brushstrokes to an up-close-and-personal musical experience. Previous honorees include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill and Buddy Miller.

"Connie Smith possesses one of the most powerful and recognizable voices in country music," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "Her body of work includes more than 50 albums, and her signature song, 'Once a Day,' remains one of country music's most popular classics. When Connie sings, she takes us on an emotional journey, wringing every teardrop and ounce of feeling from her lyrics. We are thrilled that she will be bringing those talents to the Ford Theater for three one-of-a-kind shows. "

Born Constance June Meador in Indiana, Connie Smith grew up in West Virginia and Ohio in a family of 14 children. As a teen, she listened to both the Grand Ole Opry and pop radio. However, Smith didn't begin performing until age 18, when an accident left her bedridden and she passed the time teaching herself how to play the guitar. Once well, she began to perform at square dances and Grange halls. Smith also married and started a family.

In August 1963, 21-year-old Smith won a talent contest that preceded an Opry concert in Columbus, Ohio. First prize included a chance to sing on the program and, when she did, headliner Bill Anderson took note of Smith's talent. When Smith attended an Anderson concert in January 1964 and said hello to him in the autograph line, he suggested she consider moving to Nashville.

At Anderson's invitation, Smith flew to Nashville in March 1964 to sing on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree. Two months later, Anderson invited her back, this time to make a demo recording of four of his songs. Anderson's manager, Hubert Long, pitched the tape to Chet Atkins, who signed her to RCA.

Smith's debut single, the Anderson composition "Once a Day," was recorded with producer Bob Ferguson at RCA Studio B. Released in the summer of 1964, the song became a smash hit, spending eight weeks at #1, and was the first debut single by a female artist to top the country charts. A series of successful albums and Top Ten hits followed, including "Then and Only Then," "Ain't Had No Lovin'" and "Cincinnati, Ohio." In August 1965, Smith was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She remains an Opry favorite, and Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs routinely refers to her as "the Rolls-Royce of country singers."

By the late 1960s, Smith was seeking a more spiritual path. In 1973, when she left RCA for Columbia Records, her contract specified that she be allowed to record a gospel album each year. At decade's end, Smith took a hiatus from touring and recording, devoting herself to home and family. She returned to the charts only briefly during this time, in 1985, with a recording of Steve Earle's "A Far Cry from You."

As the 1990s dawned and her five children were grown, Smith again focused on her music, writing songs and returning to performing. After a chance encounter with fellow country artist Marty Stuart, Smith asked him if he would be interested in working with her. Together, they co-wrote much of Smith's 1998 Warner Bros. CD, Connie Smith, which Stuart also produced. The working relationship blossomed into romance, and Smith and Stuart were married in 1997.

On August 23, Smith will release Long Line of Heartaches (Sugar Hill Records), her first new release in 13 years. The album, which Smith recorded at RCA Studio B, contains five new songs penned by Smith and Stuart, as well as compositions by Dallas Frazier, Harlan Howard, Kostas and more. The record features Smith's long-time band, the Sundowners, and one song—the contemporary hymn "Take My Hand"—includes harmonies from Smith's daughters Julie, Jeannie and Jodi. It is traditional country, delivered by one of country music's inimitable voices.

Connie Smith residency event tickets can be purchased exclusively by Museum members for $35 per show beginning Tuesday, August 2, at 10:00 a.m. by visiting www.countrymusichalloffame.org or the Museum box office. (A one-year Museum membership is $40.) Tickets will go on sale for $45 per show to the general public at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 5, and can be purchased at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or the Museum box office. Additionally, the Pinnacle at Symphony Place garage is offering attendees an $8 parking option on each of the performance evenings.

The Museum will also be offering special dinner/ticket packages for each show, as well as a bundled package including tickets and dinner for all three shows. Please visit www.countrymusichalloffame.org for complete details.

Museum doors open at 5:30 p.m. for the 7:00 p.m. shows. In addition, the Museum's galleries will be open to all ticket holders prior to each performance, beginning at 5:30 p.m.

These programs are made possible, in part, by grants from the Metropolitan Nashville Arts Commission and by an agreement between the Tennessee Arts Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is operated by the Country Music Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization chartered by the state of Tennessee in 1964. The Museum's mission is the preservation of the history of country and related vernacular music rooted in southern culture. With the same educational mission, the Foundation also operates CMF Records, the Museum's Frist Library and Archive, CMF Press, Historic RCA Studio B and Hatch Show Print®.

More information about the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is available at www.countrymusichalloffame.org or by calling (615) 416-2001.

 

Heart, soul and talent: Connie Smith's recipe for great country music

connie smithHeart, soul and talent: Connie Smith's recipe for great country music (courtesy of Razor X and My Kind of Country website)

A few days ago, I had the great honor and privilege of sitting down for a conversation with the legendary Connie Smith:

RX: Your entry into the country music world seems to be something that just sort of happened, instead of something that you spent a lot of time pursuing. Prior to meeting Bill Anderson, had you given any serious thought to going to Nashville to pursue a career in country music?

CS: No. It was always a dream I had to sing on the Grand Ole Opry. I remember when I was about 5 saying that, but I never thought I really would. If I hadn't met Bill I probably wouldn't have pursued it because I already had a young son. The way I met him was I went up to that park because I'd heard that George Jones would be there. But they'd given my husband and me the wrong date, so when we got there Bill was there. I hadn't gone to sing, I just wanted to hear George because he was my favorite male singer. When we got there we found out that they had a talent contest every week, and my husband and friends talked me into entering. The biggest holdback was that you had to do your own accompaniment, and I can only play the guitar in the key of C, so I had to pick a song that I could do in C. And I think the reason I won was because the winner for the prior seven weeks was a seven-year-old banjo player and I guess they just wanted something different. I'd like to think it was my talent that won but I'm really not so sure. I know it wasn't my guitar playing (laughs).

RX: But it was definitely your talent that caught the attention of Bill Anderson. You went to Nashville at his invitation, and "Once a Day", your debut record, was a megahit – the kind that every new artist dreams of having right out of the box. Was it difficult to adjust to that kind of overnight success?

CS: I was just very lucky to have come along at the right time and to have gotten such a great, great song. But it was difficult being thrust into the spotlight so quickly. I just wanted to hear my record on the radio but I was never really career-driven.

RX: Most artists from that era, particularly women, seem to have been almost completely controlled by their labels and producers. Did you have any say in what you got to record or how your records sounded?

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