Spinnaker reporter Jessica Harden sat under with nation singer Corey Smith before his concert and asked him questions around his life and also his music. The answers may surprise some.

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The interview below has to be edited for an are purposes. For the complete interview, clock the video.

Country singer Corey blacksmith smiles because that the camera.Photo through Ali Blumenthall

Spinnaker: You flourished up in Jefferson, Georgia. Can you tell us what that was like? 

Corey Smith: ns still live in the exact same town I thrived up in…. Ns left because that college and came ago to whereby all my friends and family are, to whereby I feeling at home and feel choose myself… I favor that my children are going to grow up there and go come the exact same school that ns went to, and also family is really vital to me…

S: You flourished up living with your grandmother. What sort of influence did that have actually on you?

CS: …All with high school I lived v my grandma and it to be nice. The was just me and also her. She cooked house cooked meals every night… I have actually a the majority of respect for my grandmother. She teach me around integrity and also hard work, and doing what that takes to assistance your family. And also she to be a substantial influence top top me, tho is.

S: does that affect your music in ~ all? 

CS: ns think so, i think that my music has actually a real sense the place and that it’s grounded due to the fact that of that experience there is one of the factors that ns still in Jefferson.

S: and before her career in music you were a teacher. Have the right to you phone call me around your decision to be a teacher? 

CS: …When ns was a teenager ns guess I had actually a pipeline dream of being a rock star or something, and also then I kind of got my top priorities straight and I establish what was much more important come me was having actually stability and security, family, and so I determined to take it my education and learning seriously, end up being a teacher… i feel like it was a method to have a positive affect on the community… ns was passionate about social studies… and also it was a tough decision come leave yet I felt prefer the possibility to beat music might not constantly be there and I could always go earlier to teaching.

S: You speak you have a very solid sense the home. Why perform you think you connect with Jefferson, Georgia therefore much, when at a younger age, on her website you quote going come Paris and also wanting to gain out a little bit, but right now you it seems ~ to have actually that solid sense that home?

CS: …I think component of the college experience is learning around the world outside of wherein you’re from. Ns really took pleasure in going to Paris, because that example, simply to check out what else was the end there and experience different ways the life. However ultimately when it involves where I want to progressive my family members I felt favor I remained in a good place where world care about each other and take treatment of each other and there is a many drama that goes together with it yet I wouldn’t trade that.

S: You claimed on her website listening come the Allman Brothers and also Lynyrd Skynyrd gained you v the an overwhelming time once you to be in Paris> What bands carry out you hear to and also how carry out they influence you musically?

CS: …When I was in Europe for the summer I obtained really homesick. Girlfriend know, I appreciated being there and also experiencing a new society but that really… offered me a brand-new perspective on my home and music was absolutely a part of that and listening to a band prefer the Allman Brothers, it had actually the ability to take it me ago and i think music still has actually that power. Girlfriend know, as soon as I’m top top the roadway I have the right to put in specific records that just put me in a good mood…

 S: Why walk you choose to release your albums independently?

CS: that was really the only way… i guess requirement is the mom of invention… i was just making a record and selling that to my friends and also family, they spread the music around.

S: how do you feel around the industry for independent artist today, especially because the rise of social media?

CS: i think that technology has leveled the playing field where now civilization who make music have accessibility to the sector place in a method that lock didn’t even ten or fifteen years ago and consumers have much more choice than they’ve ever before had. There’s still a lot come be said for mainstream media, radio in specific is tho extremely an important if you want to reach the masses… currently there’s this whole brand-new class the musicians that are practically like a middle course of artists… that takes year if not a life time to uncover out who you space as an artist and also express yourself and also I think sometimes because huge business needs to rotate a profit conveniently they take it a the majority of shortcuts with artists to obtain them out and sell product.

S: A few of her songs, including one by the title “Fuck the Po-Po”, resolve previous interactions through the police. One more song, “Chattanooga” addresses the ide of defense under the very first Amendment of liberty of speech. Why go you choose to write about the principle of freedom of speech?

Corey blacksmith performing live in ~ UNF.Photo by Ali Blumenthall

CS: i don’t know, probably it’s the social studies teacher in me. Yet when I composed “Fuck the Po-Po” i wasn’t trying to make a statement around freedom of speech, ns was simply pissed off and, girlfriend know, it is my project as one artist, to express myself… and also when I created it I supposed that I would certainly play it because that my friends and family, I had actually no idea that i was going to be play it almost everywhere the country, and also have anyone flicking the police off and stuff. But you know, ns was simply sort of doing mine job and in Chattanooga… that was one of the an initial times that ns was gift intimidated through the contents of my song and also I really thought about it in a an initial amendment way… I had actually a room full of adults who paid because that a ticket that were told the they can not hear a song… the was just a slap in the confront to me and also as an artist I can be an essential of authority and that’s what’s an excellent about America: us can criticize the civilization who room enforcing the laws… even if it is it’s justified or no that ideal is an essential to a free society.

S: You support the SEVA foundation and it is in The adjust International. Have the right to you tell me a small bit about these 2 organizations and also what your partnership with them is?

CS: be The readjust International is in reality based here in Jacksonville… ns met Dr. Robert Lee who heads that company years ago, once I was just starting out. The was attracted into a song referred to as “Be The Change” that i wrote… I’d simply become good friends with him and also the organization. The company started as Fresh ministries which did a many economic development work here in Jacksonville… In certain they perform a the majority of work in Sub-Saharan Africa on HIV and also AIDS prevention, research and treatment. Therefore I was able to go to southern Africa through them and learn a lot about what lock do, so the was definitely a reason I was happy to obtain behind… They do a the majority of work in Haiti now… SEVA is another global non-profit, they specialization in eye care… It to be a cause that was crucial to me… What SEVA walk is they are able to walk into occurring countries and provide eye care at exceptionally low cost. Particularly cataract surgery, here in the claims it’s hundreds of dollars… they deserve to actually execute a cataract surgical procedure for fifty bucks… there’s a many of human being out there that can’t see and also they just need a fifty dissension surgery and also they can gain their sight back… I visited Guatemala v them a few years ago and learned a lot more about castle so ns hope together my career grow I have the right to be an ext valuable come the reasons I discover meaningful…

S: your music has some variance the style. Execute you ever feel press to “stay in the box” of a specific genre?

CS: Yeah, certainly. I shot to not pay attention to it… In details in make the efforts to with a radio audience there’s the should sort of fit to this mold. Ns think the my music is already there without trying to perform that, specifically in the nation music format. I’ve watched it readjust so much over the past ten years. Once I first started out i was favor “Well, I’ll never ever be ~ above the radio”… i didn’t also think around it or consider it, but as the format’s readjusted over the previous ten year, mine music might fit right in there… I have actually a aware that travel guide me when I’m creating songs or once I’m in the studio i just shot to perform what feels herbal to me and not worry around what preconceived notions are…

S: What perform you like around turing?

CS: ns love the being on stage, it’s definitely what it’s all about, especially details nights where everything is simply right… girlfriend feel choose you’re as large as the entirety room because you can hear the audience, you can feel that they’re connecting. Ns think one thing human being get native my display that lock don’t gain out that a lot of of country shows especially, is the fact that I’ve composed all the song that i sing… ns sharing part of that I am v them.

S: tell me around your craziest experience on tour.

CS: I’ve obtained bit… ~ meeting through fans ns was acquiring my snapshot made through this lady and also she to be drunk and also she got to over and bit me, and also drew blood. So I had actually a big bite note I had actually to define to mine wife, “You’re not gonna believe this, but I actually got bit”.

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S: Looking back on your career so far how would certainly you to speak you feel about where friend are appropriate now?

CS: ns feel like I’m in a good spot. Creatively, i’m at the ideal place I’ve ever been… I’m functioning on a record currently with a producer now… who produced all the Alan Jackson records, all the Zac Brown tape records… the the very first time I’ve to be able to job-related with a producer of that caliber. And it’s something that in the past I was always afraid of you know, working through a producer that made hits and also them wanting to change me… i knew ideal away the he to be the ideal guy due to the fact that as an artist himself and a songwriter he construed me and also understood what this is all about for me and also didn’t come in and readjust things…

S: critical question, your track “I Love Everybody” and also the message of accepting different kinds of people, do you think this is crucial message to spread?

CS: Certainly… as soon as I teach social research studies I had a group complete of students the were really diverse… i learned to love all of them and also treat them all equally… ns think tolerance is a yes, really important part of who we are as a nation… That track came indigenous an suffer I had up in Kentucky one night wherein after a show I went the end to a bar and… this son came as much as me, the had been at the show, he was hammered, girlfriend know, yet he had actually his hand up to provide me five and as he had his hand up he simply started spouting off every these offensive, bigoted remarks “F this people, and F these people, and F these people” and also I kind of pulled my hand back, it made me scratch my head and also think why walk this child think I would go in addition to that? Is it since I sing nation music?… The first time i played it ns was type of nervous, i didn’t know how it to be going to it is in perceived. Most of mine fans are white civilization from the South, fine no, ns take that back, it’s no white world from the South, the white civilization everywhere… and also they’re largely country music fans so I’m reasoning “how room they walk to get this message?” and also it to be the finest feeling to acquire to that chorus and also have everybody start cheering and also realizing there space so many like-minded human being out there.