You may have heard her performing South on Main’s stage or gracing other local arenas, but there’s probably a lot you don’t know about Heather Smith.
Born in Norman, Okla., Smith never stayed in one place for too long. “My father is a chorale conducter and we moved for his job constantly,” she remembers. Even before she finished high school she had stayed in Colorado, Mississippi, and Wisconsin.
Her introduction to music at an early age only catalyzed her passion for the art. She says, “I’ve always performed, whether in plays or singing. I’ve written songs since I was a little girl.” Her parents are both classically trained opera singers, and her sister sings as well. “I can’t remember NOT singing in four part harmony with my family, in the car, onstage. One time we sang with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which left a big impression on me – although we are not Mormon.”
The stage became her comfort zone, in a way. She says, “I was cast in operas and in musical theatre as a child at the universities where my father worked. I was performing onstage before I have a conscious memory of doing so.”
Thanks to a writing scholarship, Smith travled all the way to Pepperdine University in California for college. She couldn’t shake her passion to perform, however, and chose to theatre for her field of study. Afterwards she moved to Boulder, Colo., and eventually Hollywood to pursue music and acting.
Even throughout all the moving, Smith considers her first big break to have occurred in Denver when she was just a kindergartener; namely, she scored a solo with the sixth grade class. “That was a big deal – I sang “Tomorrow.” That’s a pretty big break for a five-year-old,” she laughs.
Big breaks aside, Smith traces her musical influences to Jazz – specifically the females greats of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Her list includes Rosemary Clooney, Peggy Lee, and Ella Fitzgerald, among others. When it comes to asking that cliché question about a song writing processes, she smiles. “As far as themes in my work, I write autobiographically. I’ve never written a song that wasn’t in some way based on a real experience in my life.”
So how does one as talented as Smith land in Little Rock? The perfect storm of things mixed just right: a horrible heartbreak, the economic crash, and the writer’s strike. Thankfully things have a way of working out, and eventually she found herself at home in Central Arkansas: “I got involved in the local theatre and music scene, and the rest is history.”
As seasoned a traveler as she is, Smith sees amazing talent here in Rock City. She lists a few of those she admires: “I love Charlotte Taylor – she’s amazing and mindblowingly talented. Rodney Block, Brian Nahlen, James Norris and John Burnette are also phenomenal local talents I love to collaborate with. Wythe Walker (who I co-write with) is an enormous influence, obviously.”
Abundance of local talent is not all a good scene needs, in Smith’s opinion. “I wish more people went out and supported local music. There’s so much amazing local talent right here in our backyard,” she says.
In the meantime she’s likely to keep chasing her passion – singing and acting. “I plan to keep writing and recording original music for as long as humanly possible.”
To check our her music, visit the band’s Facebook page, HeatherSmith. Their album of all original jazz/pop music titled “Stay Away Love” is available on iTunes. Plus, she’s pumped the band is likely to be back in the studio soon. Keep your ears peeled.