Spotlight: Mindy Smith
11pm, Coyote Ugly Saloon
"Little girls from Long Island don't grow up thinking they'd be singing with Dolly Parton on Jay Leno," says Smith, who sung "Jolene" with her hero on The Tonight Show last October. "We just don't."
Now the Smithtown, N.Y., native and Nashville transplant finds herself equally humbled by the buzz surrounding her debut album for Vanguard, One Moment More. At the heart of the attention is Smith's voice. Warm and angelic, it's earning her comparisons to Julie Miller, Patty Griffin, and yes, Norah Jones.
"I'm a singer," says Smith. "Lyrics have always been secondary. When I first got to Nashville I just called it 'making up songs.' I figure if I get a good lyric, it's by the grace of God alone."
One Moment More features more than a few tunes hinging on spirituality. As the daughter of a minister, Smith has more than a few folks pegging her a "Christian artist," particularly since her first single is called "Come to Jesus." Smith says the song is meant more as an instruction to herself than an evangelical plea.
"When I wrote it, I was in poverty struggling with myself, my faith, and my position in the world," she says. "I guess it's touchy and controversial, but it shouldn't be. It comes from an honest place. It helped me through a tough time. I wish I had it earlier in my life."
Smith says she also wishes she'd found Dolly Parton earlier in her life, but then again, little girls from Long Island don't grow up thinking they'll be pen pals with Nashville royalty.
"She's says, 'You're gonna be rich and famous,'" laughs Smith. "She cracks me up. But she also says, 'Don't listen to negative people. Listen to positive people.' And so that's what I do.
"It can be tough, but I'm finding there's a lot of positive people in this world that need a gig."