There’s nothing like life on the road to transform a promising young talent into a superstar in the making. Case in point: Canaan Smith. Since bursting on to the scene with his 2012 single, “We Got Us,” the young singer/songwriter has been touring with Darius Rucker, Dierks Bentley, Jana Kramer, Love & Theft and Florida Georgia Line. His new single, “Love You Like That,” is fast becoming a sizzling summer hit, selling a whopping 21,000 downloads it’s first week on iTunes.
“It’s like gasoline in the tank,” Smith says of the song. “It’s got an energy that gets the crowd high, and I love performing it. The first verse says ‘I could never do it like a pretty city boy, I’m more a Fishin’ in the Dark Nitty Gritty boy,’ so right off the bat it sets a tone for the message of the song and what’s coming next.”
Smith is an intriguing blend of the everyday working man and rowdy thrill seeker with a poet’s heart and pirate’s ambition. A native of Williamsburg, VA, he grew up singing along to everything from George Strait to Rage Against the Machine. He relocated to Nashville during college and began to perform around Music City’s local bars. He landed a publishing deal with Disney Music and teamed with Brett Beavers (Dierks Bentley) to produce his Mercury Records debut.
“I’ve been on the road for two and a half years since ‘We Got Us’ and I’ve grown so much,” he notes. “I’ve learned from the audiences how to talk to them. It’s my job to make sure the crowd has a good time, and that’s so important to me because my live show is such an integral part of what I do. And that connection with the audience influences my songwriting.”
In addition to writing for his album, Smith has written several songs recorded by other artists. With Stephen Barker Liles, he co-wrote Love & Theft’s first hit single, “Runaway” and just a few years later, Canaan and Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard were happy to announce a song they wrote in college, “Black Tears,” would be on the next Jason Aldean album (2012’s Night Train). “I feel like 95% of the songs that I’m writing on a daily basis are for me… I see myself performing them. However,
I’m not going to have 100 songs on an album, so I have no problem pitching them to other artists!”
Canaan Smith is a songwriter of considerable depth and authenticity, and he possesses a voice that drives audiences to their feet dancing one minute and can have them crying in their beer the next. “I’m an everyday guy, but I want people to see the layers, I’m not just the kid next door,” he says. “I’ve known my share of pain and I’ve got a lot to say.”
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