In less than a year, Connie Smith moved from being a small-town Ohio housewife to country stardom with a number one single to her credit. Perhaps overly compared to and identified with Patsy Cline, Smith is still considered by many to be one of the best and most underrated vocalists in country history. Her lonely desperation came straight from the heart, also: Her father was abusive when she was a child, causing Smith to suffer a mental breakdown while she was in her teens.
"Once a Day" launched Connie Smith straight to the top of the country music industry and, for a brief period, she was one of the top female stars of the genre during the mid 1960s. Although she never achieved the level of commercial success as some of her contemporaries, Loretta Lynn, Tammy Wynette, Lynn Anderson and Dolly Parton, she is often hailed by music critics as one of the finest voices in country music, voted in 2001 by fellow artists and members of the Country Music industry as #9 of the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music of all time (CMT).
Smith's follow-up, "Then and Only Then," hit number four (even the flip side reached the Top 25), and her Top Ten streak continued until late 1968, including the big hits "If I Talk to Him," "Ain't Had No Lovin'," and "The Hurtin's All Over." Between 1965 and 1966 Smith had three No. 1 Billboard Country albums, Connie Smith, Cute 'n' Country, and Born to Sing. At this time, Smith was one of the most successful female vocalists of the genre, having the similar success Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette would later have. During this time, Smith had been twice nominated for Grammy Awards, one for "Once a Day" in 1965 and another for "Ain't Had No Lovin'" in 1967.
Meanwhile, her success began to take a toll; constant appearances on the road, in films, and on The Lawrence Welk Show pushed Smith to the brink of suicide in 1968. She credits her Christian faith with saving her from killing herself. In 1969, Smith did a cover version of Marty Robbins' 1965 No. 1 hit "Ribbon Of Darkness," that made it to No. 13 on the Country singles chart. That same year, she recorded a duet album with Nat Stuckey entitled Young Love. A single also called "Young Love", which was originally a hit for Sonny James in 1956, only made it to No. 20 for Smith. Connie and Nat also did a gospel album in 1970 called Sunday Morning With Connie and Nat -- later re-released in 2001 under the title God Will.
She was a top draw in country music concert venues and even branched into minor movie stardom, appearing in such films as Las Vegas Hillbillys (1966) with Ferlin Husky and Jayne Mansfield, and "Hell's Angels on Wheels" (1967) with Marty Robbins. Nevertheless, Smith did not give her career 100 percent like many of her contemporaries, touring considerably less, stating her main priority was being a wife and mother.
By 1972, Smith began to incorporate more Gospel into her act. With the help of her third husband, Evangelist Marshall Haynes, she turned her live show into a traveling gospel road show and signed with Columbia, which permitted her to record more straight gospel songs. Though the material didn't score as well on the charts as her secular singles had, she managed to stay in the Top 20 during much of the '70s. Smith recorded more Gospel albums under Columbia, including 1974's God Is Abundant, and was nominated for Grammy for Best Gospel Performance for her song, "All the Praises". Smith's Country career, didn't remain as successful, her hits rarely hit the Top 10. Her last Top 10 came in 1976 with "('Til) I Kissed You", which peaked at No. 10, the very top of the top 10.
When Smith was signed to Monument, she broke away from recording too much Gospel. Instead, Smith's Country music got more Pop-sounding, as Smith was keeping up with the times, during a the time when Country music was becoming more Pop-sounding. This type of sound was evident in some of her biggest hits from the late 70s, including the Top 10, "(Till) I Kissed You" and "I Don't Want to Talk It Over Anymore".
After she signed with Monument in 1977, most of her singles dropped out of the Top 40. Her 1978 single "I Just Want to Be Your Everything" was Smith's last significant hit on the country music charts, making it to No. 14. The single was originally a hit for Andy Gibb, younger brother of the brothers in the popular Pop group The Bee Gees. Smith's version has been said to be the only notable cover version because it sounds like the original. Her last Top 40 hit on the country charts came in the spring of 1978 with "Lovin' You Baby" peaking at No. 34. As for her other singles released between 1978 and 1979 (most notably, "Smooth Sailin'" and "Ten Thousand and One"), they failed to become hits, and peaked outside the Country Top 40. Although these songs were updated to fit the time period, Smith was not one hundred percent focused on touring, performing and promotiing, focusing more of her time on family and later raising her children, which is one of the reasons for why she later temporarily left the business.
Smith was nominated three times for the Country Music Association "Female Vocalist of the Year" award and earned 10 various Grammy nominations but has won neither. Smith has also occasionally dabbled in songwriting, penning over 30 songs and earning a Broadcast Music Incorporated award for her 1967 hit "I'll Come Running." Another Smith-penned hit "You've Got Me Right Where You Want Me" was later recorded by Reba McEntire.
In 1992, she released her first album in many years called The Wayward Wind. The following year, Smith did a live album entitled Live In Branson, Missouri, USA. Since 1997, she has been married to 90s Neo-Traditionalist Country star Marty Stuart, 17 years her junior. Connie and Marty actually met back in the 60's when as a kid he went to see her in concert. On the way home he reportedly told his mother "One day I'll marry her!" The two met again while Stuart was producing Smith's 1998 comeback album, Connie Smith. Although the album didn't gain any attention, Smith co-wrote nine of the ten tracks on the album. The album was released on Stuart's label, Warner Brothers. In 2003, Connie Smith released a Christian album with Barbara Fairchild and Sharon White (from the country group The Whites) entitled Love Never Fails.
In 2002, Smith was voted at No. 9 on CMT's 40 Greatest Women of Country Music, one of the highest honors of her career. George Jones also credits Smith as his favorite female country music singer in his book I Lived To Tell It All.
Dolly Parton has also credited Smith by once saying, "There’s only three real female singers: Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending." The quote was put on Smith's 1995 comnpilation album by RCA, The Essential Connie Smith.
Most recently country singer Martina McBride recorded a cover version of Smith's signature tune "Once a Day" and was put in McBride's 2005 album, Timeless. Smith continues to be a regular member of the Grand Ole Opry, and when not on the Opry, she does occasional dates with her husband. As a solo artist, Smith continues to tour on her own. In May 2007, she sang "A World of Our Own", a hit for Sonny James, at the Country Music Hall of Fame's Medallion Ceremony honoring James' induction into the Hall of Fame. In 2007, Smith joined her husband on his album, Compadres for a duet.
|1964||Grammy Awards||Best Female Country Vocal, "Once a Day"||Nominated|
|1964||Grammy Awards||Best New Country Artist||Nominated|
|1964||Grammy Awards||Best Country & Western Single, "Once A Day"||Nominated|
|1966||Grammy Awards||Best Female Country Vocal, "Ain't Had No Lovin'"||Nominated|
|1966||Grammy Awards||Best Sacred Recording, "Connie Smith Sings Great Sacred Songs"||Nominated|
|1967||Grammy Awards||Best Female Country Vocal, "Cincinnati, Ohio"||Nominated|
|1967||CMA Awards||Female Vocalist of the Year||Nominated|
|1969||Grammy Awards||Best Female Country Vocal, "Ribbon Of Darkness"||Nominated|
|1969||Grammy Awards||Best Sacred Performance, "Whispering Hope" with Nat Stuckey||Nominated|
|1970||CMA Awards||Female Vocalist of the Year||Nominated|
|1972||CMA Awards||Female Vocalist of the Year||Nominated|
|1972||Music City News||Top Female Vocalist||Nominated|
|1973||Grammy Awards||Best Inspirational Performance, "All the Praises"||Nominated|
|1974||Music City News||Top Female Vocalist||Nominated|
|1975||Music City News||Top Female Vocalist||Nominated|
|1975||Grammy Awards||Best Gospel Performance (Other Than Soul Gospel), "Connie Smith Sings Hank Williams Gospel"||Nominated|
|1979||Music City News||Gospel Group/Act of the Year||Won|