Anthony Smith

Anthony Smith

Music has been an important element in Anthony Smith's life from the time he was old enough to pick up a guitar. He remembers staring in awe at his father's baby blue Fender as if it were the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen, and was plunking out tunes of his own at 6 or 7. As his love for music grew, so did his curiosity, and soon he was discovering the music of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Johnny Paycheck, Vern Gosdin, Keith Whitley and, on the other side, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Journey, Led Zeppelin, Paul McCartney and Michael McDonald.

Moving to Kentucky in his early 20s, Smith became part of a house band called Sneaky Pete at the Soundstage club, honing his performing skills and whetting his appetite for bigger and better things. After playing in his own band for a few more years, he made the move to Nashville, something he had always envisioned doing. "I always used to tell people during those early years -- 'I won't be here long, I'm going to Nashville,'" he recalls. "It was just something I always knew I eventually had to do."

Upon moving to Music City, Smith began meeting fellow writers and making contacts and was soon invited to play at a writers night at the Broken Spoke, which turned into an extended gig. He began to garner interest from publishers in town and was soon turning the heads of labels as well. When Mercury Nashville head Luke Lewis heard one of his demos, he immediately offered the writer a home.

He quickly went to work with longtime friend and musical protégé Bobby Terry on his debut. "Bobby produced the album. He was key to this whole thing. I wasn't intimidated by him ... he's my best friend, so I could tell him whatever I wanted. We're musical soulmates. He's the first person I ever met who understood me and could translate the music in my thoughts to tape. He's amazingly talented -- he plays every instrument on the record and stayed true to my vision."

That vision is crystal clear on songs like Smith's debut single, "If That Ain't Country," a funky, quirky, swampy romp full of slappin' backbeats and grooving guitars that takes listeners on a tour through the backwoods and bayous where its hillbilly heartbreaker runs free. "I wrote that with Jeffrey Steele," recalls Anthony. "We wanted to write something with that kind of weird approach, sort of a hillbilly version of the Beatles 'Come Together' in a way, a little 'Deliverance-y,' kind of twisted hillbilly thing."

As Smtih prepares to take that next leap himself and share his music with the rest of the world, he is thrilled to have the chance to deliver his unique lyrical messages in his own voice, each one wrapped in its own distinctive, sonic package. For him, it always has been and always will be about the music.