As Thomas Rhett's Bring the Bar to You Tour wraps this weekend, so too does Conner Smith's freshman year at Country Music University. The "Take It Slow" singer explains that he's learned everything from his summer boss.

From how to lead a band to how to balance life and work, the last four months have been an education.

"It’s the biggest learning curve ever going from being a songwriter to being an artist to being a touring artist," Smith tells Taste of Country Nights.

“There’s literally nobody better than Thomas Rhett at any of those things," he continues.

Smith and Rhett are labelmates on the Valory Music Co., which creates some extra synergy for the younger of the two singers. More important is that their audiences align, so he can trust the reaction he gets as he introduces new songs. That's how he chose "Take It Slow" as the next radio single.

"Every single night, that song changed the atmosphere of our whole set," he says.

Ryan Hurd co-wrote "Take It Slow," and he's also been very supportive of Smith, a Nashville native whose song "I Hate Alabama" went viral in 2021. Cole Swindell and Parker McCollum are two others he mentions as being part of a tight inner circle, but Rhett's words of advice are most valuable.

"To have him as my mentor and a guy I can turn to at any moment and get advice from — I’ll never overstate how grateful I am for that," he shares.

While his touring commitment with Rhett is coming to an end, his season of touring is not. This month look for him to appear — among other places — at the Grand Ole Opry as he makes his debut as part of the NextStage class of 2022.

See the Most Played Country Song from the Year You Were Born

Who had the most played country song during the year you were born? This list is a fascinating time capsule of prevalent trends from every decade in American history. Scroll through to find your birth year and then click to listen. Some of these songs have been lost through the years, many of them for good reason!

Men named Hank dominated early before stars like Freddie Hart, Ronnie Milsap, Willie Nelson Clint Black took over to close the 1980s. More recently it's been Tim Mcgraw, Rodney Atkins, Kane Brown and Morgan Wallen. Did the most-played country song from the year you were born become a favorite of yours later? All info comes from Billboard's country airplay charts.

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