A local songwriter has thrown his handiwork into the hat to compete in a new TV show, America… Is It a Hit?
By Samantha Goehri
After travelling through 40 states and seeing the world—and at the recommendation of a friend—Steve Smith decided to drive to Branson and audition for America… Is It a Hit? The TV show, which will air soon to national audiences, had 500 singer/songwriters audition, and Smith made the final cut, along with eight others. On the show, Smith is competing against two other singers, both young country-music songwriters looking to be discovered. “I think they picked me because they wanted someone older, something a little bit different,” Smith says.
And different is what they got. Smith’s music is a mix of Cajun and blues sounds, evident of the time he spent in New Orleans. Although his music is blues, his lyrics speak for themselves as a testament to those experiences Smith has lived throughout his life. “My lyrics are my What about a lucky charm? (piece of clothing, rabbits foot)
“Attitude hats,” he said with a smile on his face. He came back into the room carrying several different hats. “I’ve been doing the short brims lately,” he said. He wears a different hat to each performance, it’s his signature. “Puts you in the mode/mood,” he said.
What’s your earliest singing memory?
“his first gig was in someone’s basement for some party. “I was terrible. The band fired me,” he said. He practiced every day after that, wanting to improve as much as possible. Several weeks after that first gig the band saw him singing at another venue. “I surprised them,” he remembers. “I sounded good!”
What was the first song you knew all the lyrics to?
“Change Gonna Come by Sam Cook.”
Do you sing in the shower?
“Not normally, I’ve got my studio downstairs.”
Do you sing in the car then? Or do you mostly sing in the studio?
“I get swept away by music,” he said in explanation. He will sing anywhere if the music moves him. “I’m solely focused on music.”
What’s your favorite band?
What is your favorite album ever? “Muddy and the Wolf – The London Sessions”
How many songs are on your iPod? How many CDs do you have? Records?
“I have an 80 gig ipod and 50 gigs are full. I tend to buy songwriters. Buddy Miller and Steven Bruton. If I like one I buy all their collection.”
Does anyone else in your family sing?
“My Son Patrick is a better musician than I am,” he said. “He’s in a band, The Get Down Underground out of Columbia.” “All my children sing,” he says, though not all professionally.
Did you always know you wanted to be a singer?
“Once I heard Sam Cook.”
Will it be weird to see yourself on TV?
“I’ve done so many things, I’ve had a rich and varied musical life. I don’t think it will be weird,” he laughed.
What’s your favorite food? (I have this perception that all country singers like fried chicken and I know it’s not true, but I’m always curious)
“Chicken and andouille sausage gumbo.”
What about the other competitors? What was it like competing with another Missourian?
“They [the other competitors] were really nice, I was so impressed. I love seeing the next generation like that. They were class acts, ,good people with solid character. They definitely deserved to be there.”
Do you watch American Idol? Who was your favorite? “No, I don’t watch much TV.”
What other hobbies do you have besides singing?
“Travel. My idea of heaven is to be waist deep in clear water chasing a small mouth bass. I don’t care if I catch it.”