Alicia Smith is in pursuit of a successful music career on her own terms
March 13, 2014
Written by Josh Baker
The success, exposure, and abundance of the music industry can be anyone’s fuel to pursue it so feverishly. In fact, here in Nashville there is a singer, songwriter and musician pool the size of the Atlantic. Everyone drifting in that pool is waiting for whatever ship, with whatever label name printed on the bow, to sail by and pick them up. Alicia Smith is calmly floating outside the crowds of those folks who are waving their arms frantically. Out here is where she is making the best of a seemingly difficult place to be and not just taking what comes her way.
As you will begin to find out, Alicia is the type of artist who is about taking on the music industry from the grassroots angle while maintaining her personal values. She doesn’t mind if a record label passes on her because she chooses to stand beside what she believes instead of giving it up to sign to them. A big part of who she is and how she wants to be seen in the spotlight is because she knows success can come to those who stay true themselves without succumbing to what they need to be marketed as. It’s not about being flashy. It’s about putting in the work and getting out there and giving it everything you’ve got with everything, within reason, you’re able to offer. She won’t just settle on a label who isn’t on the same page as her.
“I have friends who get overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious about wanting something like a record deal and it’s not all about that”, Alicia begins in an almost-empty coffee shop, “If you put all your weight on whether you’re successful or not based on what you’re signed to then you probably won’t be happy because you’ll probably sign for anything.”
From avoiding prairie dogs while chasing her sister on a bike through fields in North Dakota to growing up in a sheltered, Christian environment, Alicia’s foundation of humility isn’t hard to miss. Staying modest in this industry can be tough with values even tougher to hold on to. Even though she sometimes gets backlash from the sheltered people she used to know because of the less-than-offensive things she does (playing in bars or drinking) she doesn’t let that stop her, “I have my own convictions and I’ll deal with them.”
The pivotal event that caused her to pick up guitar and learn her first song, Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” was when a close friend died. This was an eye-opening experience of learning that life can be cut short. Losing someone that close to her drove her to go after the things she wants. Years after her friend’s death she took that momentum to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and started her move to pursue music professionally. Four and a half years later, and a divorce in between, she is in Music City with an entertainment resume that is continuing to grow.
Not only is Alicia a recording artist but she is also an actor and published author. She has been in PSA’s, lawyer commercials, the horror film “Worm”, and Darius Rucker’s music video for the song “Wagon Wheel”. These opportunities outside of music have brought on different opportunities for her music. A director she worked with before contacted her about auditioning for a role in his upcoming horror film (Alicia is a huge horror film fan). Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to make the casting but she did get offered the next best thing: her music to be placed in the film.
The variety of entertainment gigs she is getting involved in hasn’t gone unnoticed. Her manager let her know that record labels are watching her. Knowing that doors may start opening around her she keeps pressing forward through songwriter’s nights and unpaid gigs. Paying these dues is something she knows she must do and does so happily. When asked what makes her stand out from the other female artists at those songwriter’s nights and Broadway gigs she confidently replies, “You can only get one of me.”
Alicia Smith has the attitude and confidence of a woman who won’t stop until she gets what she wants. She’s realistic and knows that not everyone will like her music. “They either like me or they don’t. I feel like it’s over-thought in this industry. It comes down to this: if noone wants to listen to me then they can turn off the radio or thumbs-down me on Pandora radio. If they do want to listen to me they’ll go buy my stuff or thumbs-up it.”
Accepting this fact has pushed her even deeper into optimism while taking the music industry in stride. She knows that they are often looking for characters or some industry ideal of what is marketable instead of humble talent. Her audition for “The Voice” made it even more clear to her that this is the case. The producers found her through her YouTube videos and asked her to come in for an audition. She received great feedback from everyone on the panel except from one bald man who didn’t look up at her until he asked her what her age was. If she were sixteen-years-old she would have made it through. Alicia simply brushed it off saying, “It doesn’t mean you’re not talented--they just don’t want you.”
That is a perfect example of the good ole music industry’s stereotypes and how Alicia doesn’t let it phase her. Her confident presence and positive attitude will keep her out there for every and anyone who wants to listen. Keep an ear out for a project she is working on with a group in LA that involves a rapper and a future album that will push her outside of the genre constraints of her previous E.P., “Welcome to Reality”.
As far as focusing on her outfits or being some flashy, dancing, pop-glam girl in skimpy clothes, she leaves us with this, ““I’ll be one of those people that people will research. And I believe that when they find out more about me and my past and if they ever meet me one on one, that’s where they’ll become a fan.”