Love, loss and real life. Nashville’s singer/songwriter Mindy Smith reveals herself in raw form in her album “Stupid Love,” which released this past summer. Smith is well known for her debut hit album “One Moment More,” and her appearance on Dolly Parton’s tribute album with her own version of the song “Jolene.” Smith has been busy touring, promoting the new album and playing various benefit concerts all over the country. Country Music Pride talks with Smith about the loss of her mother to cancer, her personal battles and how her struggles have lead her to find peace and give back.
CMP: What draws you to participate in various benefit events around the country?
MS: Music is extremely powerful. For whatever it’s worth, for some reason I struggled with it for some time after the loss of my mom. Now I just want to play, and if I can find any cool reason to play, and help people … whatever it takes to continue awareness of certain things. I did a breast cancer awareness show and an Alzheimer’s concert. I’m having an opportunity to help and give back.
CMP: Do you have a different mind-frame when you perform for these events, as opposed to when you prepare to play in front of a regular audience in a bar?
MS: Not really. I feel like it’s a privilege to be able to entertain people in a live performance. I treat everyone the same, with the same enthusiasm. I’m pretty funny, I don’t shy away from funniness and I know when to be serious. It’s about understanding your audience — most people go to shows to be uplifted.
CMP: Your songs are very personal. What is it about them you want people to hear?
MS: I allow people to take what they need from them — what they’re going through. I hear some amazing tragedies and wonderful beautiful outcomes. People talk to me about what my music gives them, and I really want people to take what they need from it and maybe find some peace. That’s what I’m looking for myself.
CMP: Who do you usually write about in your songs?
MS: Typically they’re not just about one person. “What Went Wrong” is about my journey for about two years; I had a lot of things I had to faze and focus on. I was having a hard time loving making music. I had an off-and-on relationship with music, and there’s really no point in going out there if you don’t love it. A lot of the songs [on the album “Stupid Love”] are about that. It’s the best thing for you. Just like love or relationships — there have been a lot of relationships in my life that have failed, and some have been more powerful than others. A lot of the songs are literal.
CMP: What is the song “Couldn’t Stand the Rain” about?
MS: Relationships, break ups. There’s an element of my personal life in there. I wrote that song in the midst of a really bad break up. I became so dependent (I’m usually very independent, and when you get in a relationship that sort of changes). It’s about sour milk. Why do you want to hold on to that?
CMP: Why don’t you want to be considered as a country music artist?
MS: I’ve had a lot of great support from the country industry. I’ve been here since 1998, and I’ve had support from performers and musicians. Nashville is more of a “let’s support each other” kind of town. I love country music. Leann Womack is one of my favorite country artists. I struggle with people thinking I’m country because when they buy my records, they’re not getting country. I don’t have a genre, really, I can do whatever I want. My agenda is that I want to be able to make whatever song I want to make and not have to worry about people thinking “this is not … ” People are critical when artists establish themselves as ‘1980s pop’ and all of a sudden they’re doing country records. People respond to that. For me, I think as an artist, you should be able to do whatever you want, and write the songs you want to write. It just means you’re not limited. It can get incredibly boring. It’s really hard to get recognition in any specific genre. I’m more of a singer/songwriter, so it’s a little more open. I don’t want to be in a genre, I want to make music. I want to grow and make music that people are interested in.
CMP: What are you working on now?
MS: I’ve got a couple other irons in the fire. Yes, I’m writing when I have time. The tour has been a heavy contender with my time. I’m actually making a book of my paintings. We’ve got to be creative. It’s a fun thing for me, it’s not stressful. It’s really hard to make a living making music. I’m not selling millions of records. To have an income I’ve got to find another way to keep that going. I’m focusing on this record, getting it out there and getting as many people to hear it. I’m paying my recording debt to society.