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Rooted in Country: Caitlyn Smith on Alison Krauss' 'When You Say Nothing At All'

Since the release of her 2018 debut album Starfire, singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith has become one of the fastest rising artists and one of the most sought-after collaborators working today. But Smith, who has penned songs for Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton and more, began her musical journey years earlier, as chronicled on her song "This Town is Killing Me," a ballad about the often crushing disappointments that go along with chasing a dream in the music industry.

Smith, who formed her first band when she was just 12 years old and recorded three albums before she turned 19, says music was always a huge part of her homelife.

"Music was always playing at our house growing up. If it wasn't my dad blasting the radio in the garage, or my mom hammering out show tunes and hymns on the piano, my brother and I would be running around singing Disney songs or pretending we were in Garth Brooks music videos. Some nights, my dad would pull out his gut string guitar and play some Eagles or Led Zeppelin,"  Smith tells Wide Open Country.  "I was drawn to the women of country music in the '90s — Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Faith Hill and the Dixie Chicks...and performed a lot of their music at fairs and little events around my hometown."

But Smith says it was Alison Krauss and her album Now That I've Found You: A Collection, featuring Krauss' cover of Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing At All," that first made her fall in love with music.

"I would lay in front of my boom box and read the lyrics and flip that cassette back and forth," Smith says. "I wanted to know how to make up songs that good. I wanted to know how to sing like that. Her voice made me cry. Not because I was sad, because it was beautiful. And I believed what she was singing. It's hard to pin down a single song that has shaped and inspired me, because I believe we're constantly being shaped and inspired and it's more of journey than a single song or moment. That being said, the song on that record 'When You Say Nothing At All' is a very important song to me."

Smith says the straightforward honesty of "When You Say Nothing At All," written by Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz, continues to inspire her.

"I carry that song with me into every room - and it continues to set the bar. Love songs can be tricky — so often they can feel cheesy or trite or the rhymes can feel too forced. But not this song," Smith continues. "I'm still so inspired by the beauty in the simplicity. It's effortless and believable. 'Old Mr. Webster could never define what's being said between your heart and mine' is still one of the greatest lines of all time."

Last year, Smith released her most recent album, Supernova, featuring the Old Dominion collaboration "I Can't."




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