Joanna Smith Discusses Weddings, Touring and Her Upcoming Album
Most Southern belles in their early-to-mid 20s dream of the day they will get hitched, but not Joanna Smith. The sweet yet sassy 22-year-old Georgia native celebrates independence while all her friends are 'Gettin' Married,' and can even laugh off a staged marriage proposal while on the Cold Beers and Reindeers tour. Carried by the inspiration from her "daddy," Smith delivers a defiant drawl in her vocals -- much like Miranda Lambert and even the Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines. Taste of Country got a chance to chat with the songstress, discussing her current passions in touring, playing mandolin and promoting her upcoming debut album.
We heard you’re getting married to Josh Thompson? [Cold Beers and Reindeers’ headliner Thompson reenacted the Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash proposal while they sang ‘Jackson’ at a recent concert.]
That rascal, he’s such a mess – trying to get me in trouble. There’s no telling [what he’ll do]. He’s always trying to get me and get a rise out me, and he knew he had me captive.
In your debut single, ‘Gettin’ Married,’ you talk about all your friends getting hitched and starting a family. Do you see yourself getting married any time soon, or down the road?
[Laughs] I don’t. This career is so just crazy and busy and you’re on the road all the time. I guess a marriage would be nearly impossible at this point [laughs]. I kind of am married, I guess. I’m already betrothed to my career.
What have you loved the most about the Cold Beers and Reindeers tour so far?
This is one of my first tours. I went out with Blake Shelton a couple months ago and did a week run with him, and so the touring experience is pretty new to me, and I really love it. I love Texas; I love the people down here, so that is really neat. I just love being able to go to a different city and play a full show with my band, and then meet people. It’s kind of the thing you want to be able to do in this business, and I’m finally getting to do it!
Do you have any memorable stories touring with Blake?
There’s nothing too crazy and wild. We weren’t out for that long. I don’t know if you can’t print this, but he does have a bulls--- button in his bus. It’s pretty funny, because if you’re on the bus hanging and somebody says something that other people don’t buy, you just walk over and press the bulls--- button [laughs].
Miranda Lambert has been quoted as saying this about you: “I love what she does! No frills or fuss ... another kick-ass chick!” How does it feel to hear that from Miranda?
It’s just a huge honor to have her say that. I admire her work immensely. I think she’s the best female that’s currently out there on the radio and I love what she does -- and for her say that about my stuff just means the world to me.
How do you feel about her music? Do you have any favorite songs of hers?
The new record ['Revolution'] is just fabulous. I love ‘Virginia Blue Bell,’ ‘Airstream Song’ and ‘Time to Get a Gun’; those are some of my favorite songs.
What was it like growing up on a ranch in Crestview, Georgia?
There’s just no better way to grow up, I don’t think. I love it down there -- a very simple life. Some people might think it’s a little bit boring, but that was the fun of it. You had to come up with stuff to do, and that might be why I turned out to be in a creative line of work, because you have to be creative when you live that far out [laughs].
You already knew who your inspirations were at five years old. When did you start taking vocal lessons?
I never really took voice lessons growing up. I kind of had some training in high school because I was in show choir and chorus and whatnot. Early on, my dad was pretty much my teacher -- he was the one who encouraged me to sing, kind of gave me pointers and constructive criticism. So my dad was definitely my earliest influence that wasn’t a singer himself. My daddy is the inspiration from which I channeled all my other inspirations.
You've been compared to the sassiness of the Dixie Chicks and Lorrie Morgan. Who would you say are your inspirations?
Definitely the Judds, Patty Loveless and K.T. Oslin. Those were the females that had the most impact on me. The guys: I love Keith Whitley and James Taylor.
What instruments do you play? What did you learn first?
I play guitar mainly, and a little piano and a little mandolin … oh, and the tambourine [laughs]!
How did you get into playing the mandolin?
My dad made me one for Christmas last year, and I’ve always been interested in it because I love string instruments, bluegrassy instruments. So he made me one, and that got me into playing it. And I’m just trying to learn a song at a time. I play it on my new single ‘Georgia Mud’ coming out in February.
What's next after the Cold Beers and Reindeers tour?
I’m going to get to enjoy some family time and down time around Christmas and New Year’s, and then after the New Year I’m just really excited about 2011 and about the single coming out … and hopefully do some more touring. This is really fun, I really enjoy it!
Watch Joanna Smith 'Gettin' Married' Video