The Grand Ole Opry brings country music legends like Bill Anderson and Jimmy Dickens, today’s superstars like Carrie Underwood and Blake Shelton, and up-and-coming artists together on one stage creating unforgettable shows every week. Into The Circle introduces the newest Opry performers as they make their Grand Ole Opry debut and step into the circle for the first time.
This country newcomer isn’t so new anymore. His debut single “We Got Us” is currently on the charts for country radio, he’s made his Opry debut, and is loving every second of this string of “firsts.”
“It’s insane,” Canaan told us backstage after his Opry debut. “So many major milestones have been met in the last two months. This is the time I have always dreamed of and waited patiently for and worked really hard for. It’s been a lot of ‘firsts.’ You can’t replicate those. I’m just soaking it up, living in the moment.”
“It’s all about the stories,” Canaan says about his love for country music. “You can listen to a country song and it will raise the hair on your arms.”
“My grandpa used to dial in on the AM radio and listen to the Opry in Indiana,” Canaan said. “He was a huge fan and I would sit there and listen with him. It’s always just been a part of my upbringing, and it’s incredible to be the one now singing over those airwaves for people at home. It’s just crazy.”
— Canaan Smith (@canaansmith) February 19, 2012
Canaan is anticipating his debut album to be released sometime this summer. He shared with us how the single was created, what to expect from the album, and what brought him to Nashville in the first place.
“The single was so special to me when we wrote it,” he said. “It was one of those songs we felt like was a gift. Some days you slave away hoping to come up with something and other days it just kind of falls in your lap. That was one of those days for us. I’m really glad I get to be the voice for that song.”
“It’s an eclectic mix,” Canaan said of the album. “It’s very diverse. Most of my philosophy is that it’s all going to be okay and life is good, so most of the songs are feel-good party songs that reflect a style that is not necessarily just one influence of mine. I’ve had so many influences from George Strait to George Jones to Red Hot Chili Peppers and everything in-between. The album is something that I’m really proud of.”
So, how did he get from his hometown of Williamsburg, VA to Music City? He just picked up and left.
“I wanted to learn from the best,” Canaan said. “And this is where it happens. The best songwriters in the world live here. I knew I wanted to be a country artist for a long time, so I finally made the call and said mom, dad, peace out – I’m going to Nashville. I didn’t know a soul when I moved here. I had never toured the campus at Belmont either. I just knew that that school was in the heart of the town where the music I wanted to be making is happening, so I took a leap of faith.”
And we’re glad he did and are looking forward to his next appearance on the Opry stage. Here’s Canaan saying hello to his fans on his first webisode.
Ironically, one of those songwriters Canaan Smith talks about when he thinks of Nashville also made her solo debut on the Opry that same night. Matraca Berg has served as a chartographer for the hills and valleys of women’s souls, doubts, loves and sorrows for her whole life. It is how she earned her first #1 at 18 and GRAMMY nomination at 22. She teamed with Bobby Braddock to write “Faking Love” in 1983, which became a #1 for T.G. Sheppard and Karen Brooks. Since then, she has contributed material to various artists. Her credits list includes “Wild Angels” (Martina McBride), “Treasures” (Dolly Parton), “Nothin’ But The Taillights” (Clint Black), “Last One To Know” (Reba McEntire), “XXX’s & OOO’s” (Trisha Yearwood), “Days Go By” (Keith Urban), “All Jacked Up” (Gretchen Wilson), and many more.
During this time, Matraca began recording her own compositions, and issued her debut album, Lying to the Moon on RCA in 1990. Three more albums followed, never veering from a very successful songwriting career throughout the years. That emotional transparency can be heard all over her current album, The Dreaming Fields, which she wrote or co-wrote every track. The album features her version of “You and Tequila,” (performed by Kenny Chesney featuring Grace Potter), among others.
@opry there are no words to express the joy and humility and terror I felt tonight. but I felt I was coming home. thank you so much..
— Matraca Berg (@matracaberg) February 19, 2012