Connie Smith sings “Loving You Baby”
Connie Smith was born on August 14, 1941 in Elkhart, Indiana whose musical talents were discovered in 1963. Growing up, Connie, short for “Constance,” suffered from the presence of an abusive father. At the age of seven, her mother divorced Connie’s father and married Tom Clark. With the marriage, she gained eight new siblings. In addition to her biological siblings, this made a family of fifteen children. Connie and her brothers and sisters would spend time together listening to the Grand Ole Opry radio broadcast and fostering a love for country music. The family also participated in jam sessions featuring her step-father playing mandolin, and her brothers on fiddle and guitar.
When Connie was a teenager, she was injured in a lawn mowing accident and nearly lost her leg. Little did she know her time in the hospital learning to play the guitar, would lead her to pursue a career in music. Following her recovery, she entered a talent competition hosted at the Frontier Ranch near Columbus, Ohio. Smith blew the competition away with her performance of Jean Shepard’s “I Thought of You” and took home the grand prize of five silver dollars. On the same day, country singer Bill Anderson heard Connie sing and was impressed by her voice. Anderson would later invite her onstage to perform with him on Ernest Tubb’s Midnite Jamboree in Nashville, Tennessee. This performance caught the attention of Anderson’s manager and Chet Atkins.
Connie signed her first record deal in 1964 for with RCA Victor Records and shortly thereafter achieved her first number one hit on the Billboard Hot Country chart with her debut single “Once a Day.” Smith held the number one spot for a total of eight weeks and remained her biggest hit which also earned her a Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance.
“Once a Day” launched an ongoing successful career with nineteen additional top-ten hits between the 1960s and mid-70s. Smith then began recording Gospel music and became more in touch with her faith. Since then, she is recognized for her outspoken religious beliefs at shows and events. During the late 70’s, Smith took a hiatus from her music career to raise her children. However, in the 1990’s Smith reappeared to the music scene with a collaboration alongside Marty Stuart. This musical friendship did not take long to turn into a romance and Stuart became Smith’s fourth husband in 1997.
Throughout her career, Smith has been nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, eight of which were for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. She also has been nominated for the ACM’s and three CMA awards with notable mentions by CMT and Rolling Stone. Smith is a long-standing member of the Grand Ole Opry (since 1965) and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2012.