Many people believe the toughest part of an artist’s career is getting a label deal. And, make no mistake about it, it’s not easy getting offered a contract. However, according to Mercury recording artist Canaan Smith, signing on the dotted line is only the beginning.
“It’s a long haul, and I’m ready for it,” he says. “I know there’s no such thing as a overnight success. This is when the work really starts. It’s definitely going to require every bit of our focus and energy. Luckily, I have a great label and a great team behind me that believe in me and is out there working for me.”
His debut single, “We Got Us,” was released to radio in January, and Smith says he feels good about the early success of the song. “You can’t really put it into words. I’ve been at it for so long, it seems that when you see things start to actually happening and unfolding that you’ve dreamed of for so long, it’s really hard to describe the emotions surrounding that. I’m so incredibly blessed.”
The Virginia native — who also made his Grand Ole Opry debut this past weekend, also possesses a sharp wit as well as a unique sense of humor. A look at some of the tidbits on his fact sheet reveals such interesting notes such as the fact he was fired from one of first jobs – at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
“For some reason, I didn’t understand the concept of checking your schedule,” he admits. “I was fifteen years old, and I didn’t show up to work twice in a row because I didn’t understand that you had to look in advance to see when you had to come into work. I was fired,” he says, admitting to a bitter taste in his mouth. “Now, I don’t really like chocolate anymore,” he says with a grin.
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While his feelings about that might be tongue-in-cheek, Smith considers himself to be very much lucky to have his current job.
“This last year was insane. I’ve been able to open for Dierks Bentley, Sugarland, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Gavin DeGraw, and David Nail,” he exclaims. “It’s been so surreal. We’ve played clubs that only held a couple of hundred people, and we’ve played amphitheaters that hold 15,000. It’s been a dream.”
In a sense, Smith compares the pace of the music business to a reality show he was on a few seasons ago – “The Amazing Race.” When asked about the similarities, he said “Totally. That was something that pushed you physically and emotionally to the limit. I think that it was training ground for what I’m going through now. That wasn’t something I set out to do. It was offered and dropped in my lap. I’m thankful for it, but it was never a goal of mine. But, it trained me for all the hard work, and being in different time zones. In music, that’s what we do -take the circus from town to town.”
Smith was eager to talk about his debut single. “It’s an honor to have written that song. It’s a gift. Sometimes it feels like you’re going into the office, and banging your head up against the wall to come up with something. That just came to us. It’s an honor to be the voice for that song. As a writer, I’ve had other artists cut my songs before, but some of them you want to hang on to yourself, and be the voice behind it.”
Another song that he is proud of from his upcoming debut album is the touching “Prettiest Girl In Town,” which is sure to make an impact on listeners. “That one was hard to get through. It started out as what seemed like another love song, and then we had the idea to take it and make it about a girl with cancer – what if it’s her dad singing to her? It was hard to get through the third voice. Again, that’s one of those gift songs. I haven’t played it live, but the head of promotion has sent it to one of the marketing directors at St. Jude’s. I’m hoping that will touch a lot of people.”
Touching people — and lives, is a goal of Smith’s. “That’s what it’s about for me. It’s not just singing songs. I’m really all about connecting with people, sharing my story, and hopefully in the process relating to people in a way that they might find hope. There are people like me who have gone through things, but they need to know that it’s going to be ok.”