Music Spotlight: Conner Smith

Apr 30, 2023 at 02:35 pm by Bethany Bowman

Conner Smith is one of Country Music's most hotly anticipated new artists

One thing that I have learned by writing this column is that the country music that young people like (who are the biggest consumers of digital music) is not always the same as the music that I like.

But sometimes artists can bridge that gap. Twenty-two-year-old Conner Smith is such an artist. I know exactly why he is so popular with the younger set. But it was his writing ability that impressed me most. He is a gifted songwriter. He has been writing songs since age six. He scored his first publishing deal at age 16. Not only that, I also learned that he was born in the same town in East Tennessee where my children were born, Cleveland.

His family would later move to Nashville where his mother was a news reporter for Channel 4. She would always ask to cover country music stars and events. And she met well-known songwriters like Tom Douglas and Craig Wiseman. Being a burgeoning songwriter himself, Conner paid attention and learned from his mom’s interviews. That is how he got into songwriting at such an early age.

Right before his Junior year in high school, Conner and his family had a chance meeting at dinner during summer vacation with Grammy Award-winning songwriter and producer Zach Crowell.

Conner grew up studying all the Nashville songwriters, so he knew exactly who Crowell was. He bravely told him, “Out of all the people in Nashville I want to work with, I would love to work with you.”

Crowell had just seen a video of Conner singing one of his songs, “Cop Car” on Instagram. A week later, Conner got his publishing deal. He even collaborated with the famed songwriter, Ashley Gorley.

In 2019, Conner signed a record deal with Big Machine’s Valory Music at age 19. He joined an impressive team that includes superstars such as Thomas Rhett, Brantley Gilbert, Sheryl Crow, Justin Moore, Eli Young Band, Aaron Lewis, Tyler Rich, and Avenue Beat.

BMLG President/CEO Scott Borchetta advised that Conner had “hot-wired his vision, songwriting, and artistry and is ready for prime time.”

When COVID hit, and Conner did what many other artists did, he poured himself into his songwriting. TikTok also proved beneficial in growing his fanbase.

Since then, the Country Prodigy wrote five of the six songs on his Zach Crowell-produced 2022 debut collection Didn’t Go Too Far. Featuring his first Top 40 hit “Learn From It,” viral smash “I Hate Alabama,” and fan-favorite “Take It Slow,” the talented crooner and gifted songwriter was named a 2022 Artist to Watch status from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Opry NextStage, while also making him the only Country artist on Pandora’s Ten List 2022 and securing 2023 recognition from MusicRow Next Big Thing, CMT Listen Up, and more.

However, when it came time for Conner to make his Opry debut a few months back, he sang a song he had written for her great-grandparents at age 13, “Jesus and Me.”

He advised, “This song is so special for my family. I remember writing it and it being like, ok, this is a better song than I've ever written before.”

His friends advised, “Make sure you do at least one song that really matters. You will never get that moment back.”

Years ago, his mother even predicted that Conner would one day sing “Jesus and Me” at the Opry. It was no surprise when he received a standing ovation that night.

Conner described the Opry as “a revered building. You walk those halls, and you just feel like there's some feeling in there that is just completely spiritual. That moment was something that I'll truly never forget.”

With us both being University of Tennessee fans, I had to ask Conner about his song “Orange and White” which coincidently came out almost the same time as Megan Moroney’s “Tennessee Orange.” Both songs talk about a girl from Georgia falling for a Tennessee boy.

He explained, “Mine came out, I think a week before hers. And yeah, the fans had all their conspiracy theories for a while there. It was completely random on our end, but it was funny.”

His newest single, “Creek Will Rise” is a bluegrass-inflected twang rocker that serves as a timeless story of young love, so strong it hits like a force of nature. Full of dirt road romance and magnetic chemistry, the Zach Crowell-produced track Smith co-penned alongside Chris LaCorte, Chase McGill, and Parker Welling and resonates with fans and critics alike.

The song was initially inspired by his real-life girlfriend and Brad Paisley’s “Mud On The Tires”, but then the songwriters took the idea and made it into something more.

Regardless, “Creek Will Rise” is sure to be a favorite summer song this year.

CMT calls Conner “an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.” Recently touring alongside Thomas Rhett, Parker McCollum, Ryan Hurd, and Chase Rice, Conner just completed his first-ever headlining tour, If I Went to College with special guests Mackenzie Carpenter and Jonathan Hutcherson. He’ll also support Luke Bryan’s Country On tour this summer before joining Cole Swindell’s Twelve Tour for select dates in the fall. For a full list of tour dates and more, visit

I know I have said this before but be sure to keep your eye on Conner Smith. He’s not just going places. He is already there.

Be sure to follow Conner Smith on Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, and all streaming platforms.

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Bethany Bowman is a freelance entertainment writer. You can follow her blogInstagram, and Twitter.