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Dream chaser: Kacey Smith pursues stardom, one song at a time

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Kacey Smith, accompanied by Daniel Kleindienst, performs in a mini-concert Monday at the Times-Gazette.
(T-G Photo by David Melson) [Order this photo]
There are at least several country songs about singers who start from humble roots and make it big in the music industry, and for most people those songs are just entertainment. But those lyrics are music to the ears of one young woman from Bedford County.

Kacey Smith, 22, has been gaining attention not only at home but around the country with her singing and songwriting.

Smith was featured in the January 2013 edition of The Tennessee Magazine, published by the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association which includes Shelbyville-based Duck River Electric Membership Corp.

Smith greets a young fan after the show.
(T-G Photo by David Melson)
Earlier this week, she was interviewed on the "Horses in the Morning" online radio program. This Saturday, she will be interviewed on Military Radio. And in March, she will return for her second appearance in an Arkansas radiothon and cablethon to raise money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Smith opened recently for Keith Anderson, and the Jack Daniel's Distillery welcome center plays some of her music. And now she's gaining international attention.

Her publicist, Camilla Kleindienst, said a Brazilian radio station found Smith on Twitter and asked for copies of her debut CD, "Country Girl." Smith's music is now on the station's rotation, and the station has extended an offer for her to come to Brazil and perform live -- Smith has not yet decided on whether to accept, Kleindienst said.

"Country Girl" is also being sold around the world thanks to the Internet, she said.

And those are only a few examples of how the Bedford County musician is capturing the public's attention.

On Music Row

The Horse Mountain resident said she started singing in public at a young age at church events. But it wasn't until the Smith family contacted Kleindienst's Banner Music several years ago that Kacey Smith began to be more than a local sensation.

Camilla Kleindienst and her husband, Daniel, run Banner from Shelbyville and from an office on Nashville's Music Row, where Smith goes once a week to write music. Just recently, Smith was writing a song with songwriter Robin Grant and Simone Simonton, who was a co-writer of "Baby Girl," Camilla Kleindienst said.

Next Saturday, Smith plans to work on vocals in a studio for her next CD and for use in pitching her work to artists, Daniel Kleindienst said.

Big hopes

Smith said she would love to have Miranda Lambert perform one of her songs. Although she's young, Smith said she already has a bucket list: to meet Roy Clark, which she has already accomplished, and to meet Dolly Parton and sing "I will Always Love You" with her. And singing at the Grand Ole Opry is another goal, she added.

She hasn't met Dolly Parton yet, but did run into Gretchen Wilson one day at lunch on Music Row.

Although Smith is getting acquainted with country music movers and shakers, she said she doesn't usually get stressed out on Music Row, other than always having to perform at her best. Everyone has been very supportive so far, she said.

"It's like a big support team there," she said.

Music as business

Making it big in the music industry involves more than recording songs, Camilla Kleindienst said. Up-and-coming artists have to compete for fans with television shows like "The Voice" and "American Idol," as well as performance space.

"Labels want to know an artist they will invest in has a work ethic and understands business," she said.

Toward that end, Smith is a student at Middle Tennessee State University, where she is majoring in music business and minoring in marketing.

"It's a big campus," she said. "I have to do a lot of walking. It's kind of hard to look cute in tennis shoes, but I try," she said with a laugh.

Smith and Banner Music need to find a tour sponsor as well as a van for tours, Kleindienst said.

Sponsorship is the way of life in music, she said. Smith has picked up several sponsors, including local hair stylist Melanie Sliger of the Hair Company, who does Smith's hair, Kleindienst said. Smith just recently signed with Leann Bond, an independent consultant for Vault Jeans, to supply jeans. Crosstouched Pawn sells Smith's merchandise, and has paid for some of her performances. Those are just a few of Smith's supporters, Kleindienst said.

Close-knit family

Some of her favorite childhood memories are not of music, but of spending time with her brother Cody, whom she calls her best friend. The two loved to catch and raise tadpoles, she said. Cody is a senior at Cascade High School and plays football and soccer. Their parents are Debbie and Randy Smith.

Smith said her music aspirations were partly shaped by her mother, who sings at events like "Hee Haw & Howdy," and by her grandfather and uncle, who have a band.

Local fans can learn the latest about Smith's career at an event called "Catch Up With Kacey" in February at Riverview Bistro. The past year will be shown in review on slideshow, and 2013 events will be previewed, Debbie Kleindienst said.

Local girl

Although she aspires to land a major record deal and to advance in her career, Smith said she plans to stay in Shelbyville.

"I'm a small town person," she said. "I'm also a people person, and I hope I can continue to go to Walmart and do normal things."

And, Smith will soon have a partner to share future memories with -- she is engaged to Jay Oliver, the brother of one of her childhood friends. Smith laughed when she recalled that Oliver did not like her when they were young kids, but she told him even then that she would marry him one day.

"I won," she exclaimed gleefully.

The wedding will be June 22.