BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - JULY 23: Caitlyn Smith poses backstage on day 2 of Faster Horses Festival 2022 at Michigan International Speedway on July 23, 2022 in Brooklyn, Michigan.
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Caitlyn Smith: 5 Things to Know About the Hit Songwriter Turned Rising Country Superstar

As is often the case for artists lauded as breakout stars, Caitlyn Smith hardly came out of nowhere before her recent solo acclaim. Her 2023 ACM Awards nomination for New Female Artist of the Year marked her second year in a row on the ballot. Being in the same company as award winners Lainey Wilson (2022) and Hailey Whitters (2023) verified what Smith's fellow songwriters have known for years: the Minnesota native's blend of country storytelling, pop medleys and folk sensibilities makes her one of the most creative and compelling artists in Nashville.

Read on to learn about Smith's 20-plus-year pursuit of having her songs heard, which culminated in April 2023 with her most personal set of songs to date,  High & Low.

She's a Proud Minnesotan

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 20: Caitlyn Smith performs at Country Cookout at Food Network in Concert on September 20, 2014 in Chicago, United States.

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Though she works in Tennessee and wrote the incredible songs "Mississippi" and "Alaska," Smith hails from Minnesota. Like her peers, experiences back home inform her songwriting, as heard on 2018's "St. Paul."

Indeed, it's in idyllic Cannon Falls, Minn. where Smith began her 20-plus year pursuit of country notoriety.

"It is a tiny little one stoplight town of 4,000 people. It has kind of this old school downtown strip, with your bakery, your antique store, hardware store and two bars. I think there's three now. It's just a cute, quiet little town," she told The Current. "It was such a beautiful place for me to start singing."

'New' is a Misnomer

INDIO, CA - APRIL 30: Caitlyn Smith performs onstage during 2016 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 30, 2016 in Indio, California.

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Smith has performed live since she formed her first band at age 12. By age 19, she'd written and recorded three albums' worth of songs. As a recording artist, she gained steam nearly a decade ago with her 2014 EP Everything to You. Twenty-sixteen's Starfire EP landed her a deal with reformed country powerhouse Monument Records. From there, Starfire got expanded into a full album in 2018. She followed it in 2020 with Supernova and in 2023 with High & Low.

"Nobody can have the highs without the lows. When I decided to produce this album, I knew it was going to be a challenge — and musically it was a beautifully stretching and exciting experience," Smith shared in a press release for High & Low. "But it brought me into this unexpected season of life where I started facing all these roadblocks that were holding me back. Fear. Doubt. Denial. And I was really forced to finally bring these issues into the light. I went from hiding behind my songs to being able to say it out loud in the room — and that's something I'm really proud of."

She's an Accomplished Pop and Country Songwriter

INDIO, CA - APRIL 30: Caitlyn Smith performs onstage during 2016 Stagecoach California's Country Music Festival at Empire Polo Club on April 30, 2016 in Indio, California.

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Before finding footing as a solo artist, Smith made a living — and a name for herself — as a songwriter. In Nashville's songwriting rooms, she helped pen Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers' "You Can't Make Old Friends," Lady A's "747," Ruston Kelly's "Dying Star" and Lori McKenna's "The Bird and the Rifle," to name four. Yet her biggest contribution as a writer came in the pop space, where co-write "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" became a No. 1 hit for Meghan Trainor and John Legend. Smith has also had a hand in multiple Miley Cyrus co-writes, with the most recent being "Island."

"I wrote that song a handful of years ago, before Meghan had a record deal," Smith told Songwriter Universe about "Like I'm Gonna Lose You." At the time, she was just a staff songwriter like I was. We were just creating a moment, a song that we planned on pitching to other artists. She'd had a bad dream that she lost her brother. She was pretty shaken up that morning, so I thought that's the perfect place to start; let's write about that. So we wrote the song in a quick amount of time. Then two years later, it was very exciting when Meghan came out with her big hit, 'All About That Bass.' The story of that, is that her uncle had a copy of our demo of 'Like I'm Gonna Lose You.' And he loved it so much, that he begged her to put it on her record (laughs). So I owe him a big thank you for being a champion of the song. And then Meghan ended up cutting it, with John Legend on the song."

She Has a Happy Family Life

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - MARCH 07: (L-R) Rollie Gaalswyk and Caitlyn Smith attend the 57th Academy of Country Music Awards at Allegiant Stadium on March 07, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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Smith wed songwriter Rollie Gaalswyk in 2009. They have two children together:  Thomas Miles Gaalswyk (born in 2016) and Lewis James Gaalswyk (2018).

"Rollie had a dream while I was pregnant that the baby's name was Lewis and we loved it," Smith told People in 2018. "We're so grateful to add another sweet boy to the family."

She Wrote and Recorded a TV Theme Song

MONARCH: NASHVILLE, TN - AUGUST 20: Trace Adkins and singer Caitlyn Smith attend a special screening and Q&A for the Fox show Monarch at the Grand Ole Opry on August 20, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. MONARCH premieres Sunday, Sept. 11, immediately following the FOX NFL doubleheader (8:00-9:00 PM ET, and simultaneously to all time zones). It then makes its time period premiere Tuesday, Sept. 20 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).

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Though the country music-themed Fox drama Monarch wasn't a critical or commercial success, it did feature amazing music. Each episode began with Smith original "The Card You Gamble" and included countrified cover songs by such series stars as Trace Adkins and Beth Ditto.

"I grew up a child of Disney and Nickelodeon, and I memorized every single theme song there ever was," Smith told Wide Open Country and other outlets at a 2022 press event. "To finally have the opportunity to be part of a television show in this way is definitely a dream come true."

Elsewhere on the television and film front, Smith won a 2020 Critics' Choice Award for Best Original Song "Glasgow (No Place Like Home)," which appeared in the film Wild Rose.

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