Singer Mindy Smith MAG

By McClain J., Kansas City, MO

Born in Long Island, New York, Mindy Smith is one of the best up-and-coming vocalists to emerge from the Nashville scene. Her debut album, "One Moment More," is out on Vanguard Records. Mindy recently spoke to me about herwriting method, making it in Nashville, and playing pool.

Is thereanything that you wish the press wouldn't ask you?

No, inquiries are fine,because as long as people are asking questions, I'm doing okay.

Do youhave a favorite song off "One Moment More"?

Yeah, the titletrack. I dedicated the record to my mom. I wrote ["One Moment More"]for my mom, who passed away in '91 of breast cancer.

How did she impactyour life?

She was a vocalist and one of my best friends. I adored her.She was a tremendous individual on so many levels: spiritual and musical. She wasvery loyal and kind-spirited, a very anointed spirit.

You've been quotedas saying that your whole life is on this record. Is it hard for you to writesuch personal songs?

Well, I find it hard not to. That's how I clear myhead.

Do you have a particular method to your songwriting?

Well, Istart with the music. I try to be melodic first and then I go ahead and see ifthe words will come. Generally, if the music isn't happening, nine out of tentimes the words aren't happening.

Is there one common message in thealbum?

I don't know if there is a message, I think it's just honesty. It'sjust the way I've experienced it. I'm just expressing myself. Songwriting is likelooking at a painting. It is an expression of my personal experiences, and ifpeople find that interesting, then that's icing on the cake.

Doessongwriting help you get through personal experiences?

I think anycreative avenue, any creative outlet, is a way to sort out your issues oremotional distress. A lot of people are encouraged to do that, and I definitelyencourage that. Be it art, music, poetry, journalism like your creativity is important. People who lack that gift appreciate others' ability. [People say tome] "Thank you, I didn't know how to put that in words or how to get thatimage on paper." That's been my experience; people are very kind to me.Creativity is definitely a great element in coping with life.

Whatinspired "Down in Flames"?

Let me reflect ae I think I wasdepressed, I had just come out of a relationship and was all alone. I was movingon with my life, and trying to cope. I had been in a relationship for a year anda half, which is unusual for me, I'm usually a very short-term relationship kindof gal.

"Down in Flames" was definitely a coping song. [Youfeel like] you're trying so hard to be positive and there is so much negativityaround and a lot of it I press on myself, like most creative people. We tend toreflect and hold onto things that bring us down.

What role has religionplayed in your life? It seems to be a big theme on the album.

The role ofspirituality is the same for everybody. I think we are all sorting it out. That'swhat life is about, it's about sorting out every day which can be love, sadness,joy, or it can be spirituality. I've always felt guilty if I don't do certainthings. I'm not your typical church-going girl like I should be. I feel bad aboutthat, but I can't do it. I'm committed to my spirituality and my faith, butsometimes I stink at it.

What are your hobbies?

I enjoy catching upwith my friends, 'cause I'm rarely at home. With that said, my favoriterecreational activity is playing pool. I also like to see my friends' bands play.I also enjoy painting or drawing, when I get around to it.

Do you rememberyour first gig?

I was in a band for a short time when I lived in Cincinnati and we did a show. I think the band broke up two weeks later. Wedidn't have a name, but it was fun. When I got to Knoxville, I started playing ata place called Manhattan's in an area known as the Old City. Those were really myfirst gigs, and I didn't even play guitar then, I just sang a cappella. I didn'tknow how to play the guitar until I was 24.

Describe yourself in three words.

I'm complex, a free spirit, and I just love making music. Three words: complex, free-spirited, musician. How's that?


It's good because I don't make any sense. You could say that,"I don't make any sense."

That would be a great title for the piece.

I can't make one cent out of me. Well, maybe a dime, but not any sense.

What's the hardest part about trying to make it in Nashville?

Making it in Nashville.

That's the hardest part of it ae

There's so much talent. There's a plethora, an abundance of talent. Youjust have to be on your toes and respect others with talent. In a sense, theywill return that [respect], which is a good support system. However, [Nashville]is tight on resources. It's not as bad as New York or L.A., but it's tough. Thesepeople are really gifted. That's what makes for a great record when you hire theright players in Nashville 'cause there are so many of them. The ones who aredoing the good work are ae on my record! I got lucky.

Do you have any tipsfor aspiring singer/songwriters?

Take criticism constructively. It's notfun when you get criticized, but it does help you with endurance. If you learnearly that not everyone is going to love what you do, it's easier to cope. Ninetimes out of ten, if one person gets it, everyone else wants to get it. Youshould just stick with it if you're driven and that's where your heart is. Iwould suggest to keep writing and making your own music. When it works out, it isincredibly rewarding to use your own material that you believe in, which sometimes takes a while. For me it took ten years, for some people it takes significantly less, and for others it never happens.

Maintain your love for music that will carry you through. Don't make it about money and don't makeit about fame. I think that will make it a lot easier.

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