Mindy Smith's Cincinnati connection
Although Mindy Smith spent some time in Cincinnati — and joined her first band while there — one gets a sense that it was not exactly a memorable part of the native Long Islander’s life. For one thing, she was recovering from the death of her mother, her musical idol and inspiration.
“She had the most beautiful voice I’ve ever heard,” said Smith, who was 19 when her mother died of cancer. “She had the ability to touch people, to move mountains with her voice. If I learned anything from her, it’s to put all of your emotion into your performance.”
So she found herself enrolled at Cincinnati Bible College.
“I went there because I had some friends who went there,” she said. “I was a lousy student, but I needed to get out of New York. I tried to do a band-thing, but that only lasted about two months. It was fun, but...”
After dropping out, she re joined her father, who had relocated to Nashville, and that’s where she found her voice and her instrument.
“That was my version of college,” she said, “learning how to write. I started out singing them a capella, but realized I needed to learn how to play guitar to accompany myself. But I felt like that’s what I was meant to do: Write original songs.”
Smith got to work on her career, going to songwriters showcases and open mics nearly every night. Winning the Tin Pan South writer’s contest in 2000 led to a staff position at Yellow Dog Music. The company allowed her to earn a living writing songs for others while she made demos and generated a buzz that earned her an appearance with Lee Ann Womack at South By Southwest and as the only unsigned artist on the Dolly Parton tribute CD, “Just Because I’m a Woman.” She was singled out by Parton herself for that project.
She’s still on the road for her 2007 album “Long Island Shores,” her second, playing solo acoustic sets.
“That’s really the way I like to do things,” she said. “That’s how I started out, so I’m quite comfortable out there alone.”