Ask anyone what makes country music unique, and they’ll likely answer it’s the storytelling. For generations country artists have illuminated the human condition in songs that share life’s tragedies and triumphs while exploring love, loss and the full range of life experiences. It’s a noble calling and one that Canaan Smith passionately embraces on his Mercury Nashville debut album Bronco. As a result, listeners are passionately embracing Canaan’s talent. Rolling Stone raves, “If you haven’t heard of Canaan Smith yet, chances are you will be hearing quite a bit of him…overall, we feel the singer-songwriter is one of the sharper artists to keep an eye on.”
With wisdom beyond his young years, Smith has emerged as one of Nashville’s most compelling storytellers. Whether painting a steamy portrait of a burgeoning relationship in the hit single “Love You Like That” or honoring the memory of his brother in the powerful title track, Smith knows how to draw listeners into his world. “Bronco” is a prime example. When he was only 11, Smith lost his 16-year-old brother in a car accident. “It was important to me that I write that story,” he says of the song he co-wrote with Scooter Carusoe. “I always wanted to write something that would honor my brother, but I didn’t know it would be in the form of his car. I had no idea the Ford Bronco that he drove would stick with me all of these years, but it has. When I think about him, that’s the first thing I see.” And, he’s learned that even the most personal experiences can strike a universal chord with an audience. “At first it was hard for me to sing, I would tear up in the middle of a show trying to sing it,” he says of “Bronco.” “Then I realized it’s not just my story. Every night the room is full of people that have been through loss. It’s actually pretty cool to transition from it just being my story to hopefully being a story that people can find hope in, and a little peace. That’s what I tell them. Before the song I say, ‘Now if you’ve gone through loss, if you’ve gone through something like this, maybe for the next three and a half minutes you’ll find a little bit of peace. I hope this song will do for you what it has for me.”
Smith has seen firsthand the impact his music has on fans as he’s toured extensively with Dierks Bentley, Brantley Gilbert and Kip Moore. “Love You Like That” was a proven fan favorite as it reached #1 and continues to garner extensive airplay, selling close to two million tracks. Canaan followed up his first #1 with the party anthem “Hole In A Bottle”. “That song sets the tone with the fans every night.” Smith states, “It lets them know we are there to tear it up right along with them.”
Smith’s gifts as a storyteller have earned the respect of his peers and his songs have been recorded by Cole Swindell, Florida-Georgia Line, Jason Aldean, Love and Theft, as well as Big Loud Records/Atlantic Records breakout star Mason Ramsey, who has made the Smith co-write “Famous” into a viral smash. Love & Theft took “Runaway” to the top ten on the charts and Aldean puts his unique stamp on “Black Tears,” a song Smith co-wrote with Florida Georgia Line’s Tyler Hubbard.
A native of Williamsburg, Virginia, Smith grew up listening to a variety of music from George Strait to Rage Against the Machine. He knew early on that he wanted to make music for a living. “It’s just what I love. I can’t see myself doing anything else,” he says. “I always saw a life that I wanted in music.”
Smith’s songwriting is informed by his adventurous spirit and keen observational skills, but it’s his willingness to be vulnerable in sharing his trials as openly as his triumphs that makes him so relatable. Though the album has its share of poignant, thought-provoking songs, there are also rowdy, in-your-face anthems that celebrate life’s lighter moments. Working with producers Brett Beavers, Jimmy Robbins and Ryan Tyndell, Smith has crafted a well-rounded album that takes the listener on a riveting emotional ride.
In the fall of 2016, Canaan was invited to tour with London based breakout country duo, The Shires on a trek throughout the UK. Canaan recalls his first overseas tour enthusiastically, “We were blown away by the fans in the UK. They appreciate every word of every song”. These new Canaan Smith admirers were so impressed by his now internationally respected live performance talents they rocketed his album “Bronco” to #3 on the UK Country Charts. Thanks to overwhelming demand, Smith returned to the UK in March of 2017 for the C2C Festival, followed by his own successful headlining tour.
In May of 2018, Smith joined Tree Vibez Music founders and Florida Georgia Line superstars Tyler Hubbard and Brian Kelley as the latest addition to the TVM writing roster.
Canaan is hard at work on new music and has given fans a taste of what’s to come; his latest digital smash, “This Night Back” has already racked up over 25 million streams.
Whether chronicling a complex relationship, celebrating the power of hard work or exploring the loss of a loved one, Canaan Smith has a gift for telling stories. He is carrying on Country Music’s most beloved tradition and adding to the narrative in his own original way.