Member Since 1965
“There’s really only three female singers in the world: Streisand, Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending.”
That’s high praise indeed, especially considering it comes from a woman heralded as having one of country music’s all-time best voices. But countless others agree with Dolly.
Connie grew up in Hinton, West Virginia, a bashful child in a family of 14. She remembers saying at age 5, “Someday I’m gonna sing on the Grand Ole Opry.”
She was a housewife and mother with a four-month-old son in Warner, Ohio, in 1963 when she and her husband traveled to see Opry star Bill Anderson perform at the Frontier Ranch Park in Columbus. Talked into entering a talent contest, Connie subsequently won and got to meet Bill, who offered to help her launch a country-music career, inviting her to appear on the Ernest Tubb Record Shop radio show in March, 1964.
Although Bill missed hearing her sing that night (Ernest himself hosted the show), he invited her back to Nashville in May to record some demos. In June, Chet Atkins signed her to RCA Records, and a month later she recorded Bill’s song “Once a Day.” Released in August, by November it hit No. 1, where it stayed for eight weeks. Her debut album remained on the chart for more than 30 weeks, spending seven of those at the top spot. More Top 10 hits followed, including “I Can’t Remember,” “Nobody but a Fool,” and “Cincinnati, Ohio.”
She first joined the Opry in 1966, but by 1968, Connie needed to escape the pressures of constantly touring, recording, and making movie and TV appearances. She concentrated on raising her five children and becoming more involved in her church. In 1971, the year she rejoined the Opry, she scored a No. 2 hit with Don Gibson’s “Just One Time.”
In 1997, Connie married fellow Opry star Marty Stuart. The couple’s first meeting actually took place in 1970, when Marty was an 11-year-old fan at a Connie Smith concert who had asked his mom to buy him a bright yellow shirt so Connie would notice him during her performance. “I think Marty and I match so well,” Connie says today. “I love him with all my heart.”
Dolly Parton and many others would no doubt proclaim Connie Smith and country music another “perfect match.” Today Connie lives up to those standards as a regular performer on the show that made country music famous, the Grand Ole Opry.
Long Line Of Heartaches