If her name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, the songs she’s known for will. Caitlyn Smith is a sought-after songwriter in Nashville, and rightfully so. Her songs have been recorded by Garth Brooks (“Tacoma”), Lady Antebellum (“747”), Cassadee Pope (“Wasting All These Tears), and Meghan Trainor (“Like I’m Gonna Lose You”). After years of writing songs for other people, Smith is finally singing them herself. Her recently released EP “Starfire” is just a preview of an upcoming LP of the same title.
How long have you been writing professionally?
Shortly after I made my first record I started taking trips between Minnesota and Nashville, and I started co-writing and getting in the Nashville circle, so that was about 15 years ago.
Was writing for other artists something you always intended to do, or was it something that developed after you arrived in Nashville?
For me, I’ve always wanted to be an artist, but when I first started coming to town, I saw that in order to be a great artist you need great songs, and I realized that I needed to hone my craft a little better in the songwriting world. So, I decided when I first moved here and signed my first publishing deal about seven years ago that I needed to take a little break from doing the artist thing and just focus on writing and learning how to write a great song. Through that process, all of a sudden, artists started recording these songs, which was kind of crazy. It was a little bit unexpected for me, but through that journey I learned what I wanted to write for myself, as well, so that’s really cool.
You’ve toured with Sheryl Crow and Willie Nelson — really big names in music. What have you taken away from those experiences?
It’s been kind of nutty! Every time I watch a show, I learn something, so being able to tour with artists like Willie Nelson and Sheryl Crow and see how they interact with an audience — those are lessons that you can’t teach someone in school. You just have to watch the best at what they do, and watching shows like that is absolutely invaluable, and I try to translate and do the best I can to take some of that and put it into my performance, too.
Does Nashville ever feel like a boys’ club?
I feel like with female artists, it’s a little bit of an ebb and flow, so sometimes the faucet is on, and there’s a tap of talent running through Nashville (of female artists) and sometimes it’s not like that. I think it just depends on the timing of everything, and what audiences are excited to accept.
To read our full interview with Caitlyn Smith, order Inspirer’s fall issue here!