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News Community Musician with ties to Macon County to perform at Orange Peel

Rising country music star and North Georgia native Corey Smith will be returning to the Orange Peel in Asheville on Dec. 29 to perform for what he says must be the dozenth time.

The small-town boy from Jefferson, Ga., started his professional career as a high school social studies teacher while moonlighting as a musician before deciding to become a fulltime, professional singer-songwriter when he was 28.

With nearly a decade passing since he decided to make the leap to full-time musician, Smith has demanded national attention and has grown a fan-base comparable to any rising mainstream artist. Smith, who was referred to as a $4 million musician in 2007, has continued to grow his fan base and build his reputation by taking it back to the basics.

Corey Smith - Photo by Lisa CarpenterRising country music star and North Georgia native Corey Smith will be returning to the Orange Peel in Asheville on Dec. 29 to perform for what he says must be the dozenth time.

The small-town boy from Jefferson, Ga., started his professional career as a high school social studies teacher while moonlighting as a musician before deciding to become a fulltime, professional singer-songwriter when he was 28.

With nearly a decade passing since he decided to make the leap to full-time musician, Smith has demanded national attention and has grown a fan-base comparable to any rising mainstream artist. Smith, who was referred to as a $4 million musician in 2007, has continued to grow his fan base and build his reputation by taking it back to the basics.

The self-made artist classifies his music, which is generally deliberative, biographical songs with a sorta-country twang about drinking, growing up in the south, love and his younger years, as being progressive. “Well, it is hard to say what type of music I produce,” said Smith. “I guess it is more country than anything else, I like to call it progressive country. I don't really care what anyone calls it, I just hope that people like it.”

When Smith was in middle school, he and his mother moved to Clayton, Ga. He remained in Clayton until high school, when he moved back to Jefferson. “I feel at home in the mountains,” said Smith. “I have spent a lot of my life in Rabun County and have family that still live there and up in Macon [County] N.C. I have spent a lot of time in Highlands over the years, too.”

Smith was recently named one of country music’s hottest new artists by Country Weekly and Music Row Magazine and was featured on the cover of Pollstar as a Hotstar Top Artist. A pure singer-songwriter, who owns every word of every song in his catalogue, Smith is in a league of his own in the country world and commands the maturity and confidence to connect with crowds like few others can. His newest release, “Live in Chattanooga,” showcases songs from across all seven of his previous albums and demonstrates how he has managed to evolve stylistically while maintaining a powerful bond with his fans.

With eight albums to his credit, Smith said that his favorite music is always the album he is working on. “No matter what, my favorite album is always what I am currently working on,” he said. “I am always evolving as an artist and I don't think I would be doing my job if I wasn't working to improve.”

Before breaking into the music industry, Smith spent his early life in front of a classroom of students teaching social studies, a skill which he believes he still uses today. “I guess the biggest difference between teaching and performing is that one is a lot cooler than the other,” Smith joked. “But seriously, I look at performing as a way of teaching from a much larger platform. The stuff that I am teaching now through my music may not always be stuff that people get and some people won’t get it unless they dig deep, but when people do get it and tell me they understand what I was trying to get across – well, that is just great. There isn't anything better than that.”

Smith has commanded much of his fame through constant touring, especially in college towns in the southeast. Even with performance after performance, the devoted father makes it a point to stay close and grounded to his family. “I probably am on the road 120-130 days out of the year, and mostly on weekends” said Smith. “Since I am gone for weekend shows usually Wednesday through Sunday, I do get to be home a lot. I make it a point not to be gone for more than four days at a time. It keeps me healthier and it is better for my career.”

Because Smith has taken such a unique path to stardom, he is often plagued with the question of what would he change or how he would do things different. “I have made a lot of mistakes, one being putting off becoming an artist, but the only mistakes you regret are the ones you don't learn from, so I don't regret anything of it. I just try to stay focus on the future.

In between a jam-packed touring schedule, Smith is currently working on his next album, which he thinks will be the best one yet. “When I go back and listen to the ‘Broken Road,’ I hear a lot of tension in my music,” said Smith. “I was struggling with doing the type of music I wanted to do and doing stuff that was going to meet other people's expectations. I had to find a balance in what I wanted and what everyone else wanted. What I am working on right now, the ‘Junkyard Revival,’ is almost finished and am much happier with it.”

The doors for Smith's Asheville show open at 8 p.m. on Dec. 29 and tickets are $20. “I have performed at the Orange Peel more times than I can count,” said Smith. “I am really looking forward to coming back to the mountains.





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