Country singer Corey Smith said his love of music grew from his father, who was in a band and “always (had) guitars lying around the house.”
“I would pick (a guitar) up when I was a kid and learn a few chords here and there, but I really didn’t start taking it seriously until I was a teenager. It was mainly because I love to sing, and the guitar gave me an opportunity to sing songs, learn the chords to records and be able to sing over top of them,” Smith said.
Smith, who was born and raised in Jefferson, Ga., said he started actively pursuing music when he was 15 years old, and he kept working to polish his talents throughout college. Upon graduating from the University of Georgia, Smith said he started working as a high school social studies teacher in the suburbs of Atlanta.
“When I started teaching, I still found myself writing songs on my way to work, on my way home and it just made me happy. I really wasn’t doing it for any other reason,” Smith said.
In the meantime, Smith said he played gigs at local bars to make extra money he ultimately used to make his first three albums: “Undertones” (2003), “In the Mood” (2004) and “The Good Life” (2005).
“I had been teaching right at four years when I eventually got to the point where I knew, without a doubt, that I was going to be able to have a solid career,” Smith said. “By that point, I already was married and had our first kid, so I wanted to make sure that I could offer them more stability through music than through teaching.”
Since deciding to pursue music full time in 2007, Smith has released four additional albums, the latest being 2012’s “Live From Chattanooga.”
Smith, who is set to perform at Newport Music Hall Saturday, said his original lyrics distinguish him from other country music stars.
“The reality is that there are very few pure singer-songwriters in the country format,” he said. “Most big artists take outside songs or they co-write their songs with other hit songwriters, so the fact that I write my own material and have carved my own way ensures that I’m unique. I don’t think anybody else can do what I do.”
The subject matter of his lyrics has evolved over the years, Smith said, but the songwriting process has fundamentally remained the same.
“It’s just a lot of waiting around for the idea. I don’t ever sit down and force myself to write a song,” he said. “If it’s there, it’s there and if it’s not, I try not to stress about it. I still continue writing because it gives me therapy and it’s meaningful to me.”
Smith released his latest single, “Ain’t Going Out Tonight,” in October as an “introduction” to his forthcoming album, which he described as being “fan-made” in a lot of ways.
“I’ve continued doing the same thing I’ve done from the beginning and that’s taking the money that fans have given me through ticket sales, record sales and merchandise and (investing) that money in continuing to make better and better records,” Smith said.
Thomas Plas, a second-year in biology and pre-dentistry, said he was introduced to Smith’s music three months ago when a friend started playing his music at work.
“He always played (Smith’s music) at work and I just picked up on it and decided I wanted to go to the concert,” Plas said.
Plas said a lot of Smith’s lyrics “really speak” to younger generations and he also likes that there is more of an “underground” vibe.
“I’m most looking forward to when he plays ‘If That’s Country’ because he always covers different songs during that one and always changes up what songs he plays during it,” Plas said.
Smith said he hopes his music brings audiences happiness, joy and a type of “therapy.”
“I don’t go on stage and try to pander to the crowd. I’m not there to get everybody to celebrate me as a person like I’m some kind of celebrity. I’m there because I really enjoy being on stage and making music with my friends up there,” he said. “When we’re having a good time and in a happy place, that usually transcends across the audience and that’s a very special thing.”
Country band The Railers is scheduled to open Saturday’s show. Tickets cost $14.99 in advance and $20 day of show. Doors are set to open at 7 p.m.
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