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WorldWise: Sounds of the streets

Wed, Jun 22, 2011

Joe Nolan
The Contributor (Nashville)

Adam Smith is a formerly homeless, local songwriter on a journey to make it big .in the city of music. Born in Virginia and raised in the small town of Cumberland, KY, near Harlan, Smith is a self-taught musician. Even as a teenager Smith was winning his chops as a singer/songwriter. “I’d been writing for years and recording at home for years,” he recalls. “I wanted to pursue it but there was no way to do it in this small town I was from.”

After a falling out with his parents, Smith left home and lived in his car for a month before deciding it was time to try to make it in Music City. “I didn’t tell anyone I was leaving so they wouldn’t worry,” he says. “I knew there was no turning back.”

Smith rolled into downtown Nashville in the middle of the night almost exactly two years ago. “I found Broadway, but I didn’t even know what Broadway was,” laughs Smith. “I asked about the Bluebird, but I didn’t know where to find it.”

Smith took to playing on the street corners and open mic nights of the Lower Broadway scene — all the while making do, sleeping in his car. Smith played for tips and also sold a homemade CD that he’d recorded back in Kentucky. One night Jim Colletti, the owner of a local creative firm, stopped to listen to Smith performing at the intersection of Second Avenue and Broadway. Enjoying what he heard, he bought a couple of CDs.

Impressed by the recordings, Colletti touched base with music business connections he’d made through his association with the Sedona International Film Festival in Arizona. Along the way, Adam Smith’s music won over one listener after another and Colletti and friends decided to fly Smith out to Arizona to record what became his latest CD, Another Way to Get to Heaven. “It was my first time even on an airplane,” recalls Smith. “It was my first time in the desert. It was like another planet. They treated me like a princess! It’s a real Cinderella story.” Given the opportunity of a lifetime, Smith made the most of it. “I got three days and three nights in the studio. I slept on the couch for a few hours, but mostly I just worked day and night.”

With Colletti now in place as his manager, Smith has established himself as an independent recording artist, and he’s taken to the road on two Home Sweet Home tours that find solo artists teaming up to play itineraries that travel through each other’s home towns. Most recently, Smith placed a song in an upcoming documentary about teenage bullying in which he is also interviewed on camera. When he’s not recording, playing gigs or getting involved with film projects, Smith now divides his time between Nashville and Sedona. That talented kid who once lived on the streets of Nashville has now found two homes and the opportunity to live out his dreams.

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