CPA and singer/songwriter might not seem like two titles that would share space on the same resume. But on Myla Smith’s, they do – right alongside baseball stadium scoreboard operator, Christmas tree farm worker, and show choir choreographer.
“I knew a lot of people who had music degrees, and not a lot of them had jobs,” Myla laughs. “I felt like college was what you did to get a job, so choosing the path I did just wasn’t very complicated to me at all – music was always like, of course I’m going to do that. No matter what.”
And from a very young age that was the case for Myla – save a short stint in Dallas, she spent most of her childhood in a small town north of Memphis called Shake Rag, Tennessee, wearing out two Fisher Price tape recorders with her early compositions. (Although it was in Dallas that Myla picked up her first paying gig as a singer – she overdubbed vocals for the child actors on the TV show “Barney and Friends”. Yes, that Barney.) She moved back to Shake Rag at 13 and started writing and playing the guitar.
Then came four years at the University of Memphis, where Myla majored in accounting and graduated with a 4.0. She doesn’t hide her nerd status – she’ll even readily admit to being the president of her accounting honors society – and all that hard work earned her an enviable position at an international public accounting firm. For four years after school, she worked (tirelessly) as a financial statement auditor.
But, just as she’d known it would be all along, music was always there. She released her debut album All The Things That Go Missing in 2006, on her own label Shake Rag Records, while still working 60 hours a week for the accounting firm. She says that album took almost two years to finish because of her schedule – and six months after its release, she decided to shift her number crunching to part-time and pulled music closer to the front burner. “I felt like a crazy person – this was the dream job, the best job you could get out of college,” she says. “I’d worked so hard to get here, but it just wasn’t working. Whatever the dangling carrot was that everyone was trying to get, I realized, ‘I don’t even like carrots! What am I doing?’ It was never the right fit.”
Myla says she realized she couldn’t do this job and do music – really, she notes, you couldn’t do this job and do anything – and it was time for a change. She left the firm in 2007 and hasn’t slowed down – musically, at least – since then.
Myla released Amid the Flood in 2009, a record of reimagined hymns she made with her brother Luke, who’s currently in seminary in St. Louis. In 2010 she released her second solo album, double EP White/Gold. But something pretty important had happened before that date – she’d met and fallen in love with bassist/cellist Richard Thomas. They released White/Gold on their wedding day.
When Myla talks about how she’s grown as an artist and how her career has evolved since her debut in 2006, she points to Richard. “When we started dating in 2008, he was immediately so interested and so invested in my music,” she says. “I’d always kind of felt like, I’m a solo act, I’ve got to figure everything out myself. But with him, I felt like I had a partner in it. He wanted to help and he had ideas and dreams for me. When you find someone who dreams for you, through your eyes – it just inspired me to want to do more, to have a thoughtful vision for my career, for my music, for what’s next.”
So, what is next? Fresh off the release of her newest EP Drugs in October 2012, which climbed all the way up to #1 on Amazon’s Pop Singer/Songwriter Charts, Myla is already hard at work on her next full-length record, due August 2013.
Myla still crunches numbers occasionally to pay the bills, and she’s thankful for the path she chose and the lessons that came with it. And if Drugs is any indication, she’ll keep pouring them all right into her songs.
Myla Smith - Acoustic Guitar, Lead Vocal
Michael Coggin - keyboard, bgvs
Mike Jackson - Drums
Richard Thomas - Bass Guitar
Blair Neiswender - Electric Guitar, bgvs
Drugs - EP, released Oct 2012
Hello, Christmas! - Single, released Dec 2011
Everything Changes - Single, released Feb 2011
White/Gold - LP, released September 2010
Little Caleb - Single, released May 2010
Christmas Lights - Single, released December 2009
Amid the Flood - LP, with band The Outliers, released May 2009
All the Things That Go Missing - LP, released December 2006
Song clips streaming at http://www.mylasmith.com/music/
Interview/Review for DRUGS - 10.05.12
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The one arena in which she still has no trouble expressing herself, however, is music. This is Smith...The one arena in which she still has no trouble expressing herself, however, is music. This is Smith's fourth release ... her most mature, assured and fully realized effort to date
Interview/Review for DRUGS - 10.03.12
Myla Smith is setting a new standard of quality for her fans and other indie musicians
Interview/Review for DRUGS - 10.17.12
Her music just feels real, and that is hard to find
Review for DRUGS - 09.26.12
You can sure put Drugs up there in one of the most honest and beautiful EPs you’ll hear all year.
Myla Smith is Memphis's most radio-ready artist on 2010
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Smith’s follow-up to her 2006 debut was actually two EPs — White, which sets the young singer-songwr...Smith’s follow-up to her 2006 debut was actually two EPs — White, which sets the young singer-songwriter in a modern pop setting, and Gold, which has a more relaxed country vibe thanks to the presence of acclaimed pickers Eric Lewis and Tommy Burroughs. Splitting her hand paid off for Smith, resulting in two of the most commercially viable recordings to come out of Memphis this year. This is the record that, when it popped up in my iPod’s shuffle mode, people (including sometimes myself) were most likely to mistake it for the radio
Review for WHITE/GOLD - Mark Jordan
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WHITE represents the pop half of Smith’s musical identity. From the Coldplay-like strains of album o...WHITE represents the pop half of Smith’s musical identity. From the Coldplay-like strains of album opener “Closer,” it’s clear that Smith has matured into a highly polished tunesmith capable of adroitly turning out the big, glimmering hooks that anchor the lush, layered productions of songs like “Ghost.” The second half of the collection, the country-oriented GOLD, is more understated but no less successfully rendered. Smith develops a laid-back, Nashville-ready sound on songs like the impossibly romantic “You Know What I Need.” But more significantly for Smith, who recently took third place in American Songwriter magazine’s bi-monthly lyrics contest, the more subdued setting for songs like “Who Could Believe In Love,” a track that should catch the attention of Allison Krauss, puts the focus more squarely on her tender, crafted words.
Review for WHITE/GOLD - Tyler Lindsey
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"The album teems with soaring, atmospheric music which couples nicely with Smith’s decadent vocal la..."The album teems with soaring, atmospheric music which couples nicely with Smith’s decadent vocal layering. In addition, the babbling, percussive backbone of songs like “Closer” lead the songs on a fun ramble through Smith’s lyrical imagery. Myla Smith’s personal signature on the country aspects of WHITE/GOLD stay true to the genre’s trademarks" – Tyler Lindsey, journalist for The Leader
Review for Big Red Bow (single off of WHITE/GOLD) - Jamie Cullen
"Really great song" - Jamie Cullen, A&R Director for American Songwriter
Review for WHITE/GOLD - Dustin Cann
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One part pop, one part country, all parts good. A sweet yet powerful voice, killer songwriting, and ...One part pop, one part country, all parts good. A sweet yet powerful voice, killer songwriting, and great production. Doing Memphis proud, Myla.
Review for WHITE/GOLD - Lindsey Clements
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"White/Gold" is a strong, powerful, and creative effort that soars above and beyond anything you mig..."White/Gold" is a strong, powerful, and creative effort that soars above and beyond anything you might have expected. The lyrics are written with a care and expertise not often seen anymore in mainstream music, while Myla’s sweet but strong soprano voice reels you in for the ride
You Can't Hold It
Big Red Bow
Heart Taking Hold
You're the One
This Time I Mean It
There are no upcoming dates at this time.
|Feb 19, 2012 Sunday||8:00 PM||The Bluebird Cafe||Nashville, TN, US|
|Jan 1, 2010 Friday||TBA||Please refer to mylasmith.com for a complete calendar||Memphis, TN, US|
|Jan 1, 2009 Thursday||TBA||Please refer to mylasmith.com for a complete calendar||Memphis, TN, US|
|Apr 6, 2008 Sunday||8:00 PM||The Space||Hamden, CT, US|
|Apr 4, 2008 Friday||8:00 PM||Hot Off The Press||New Haven, CT, US|
|Mar 8, 2008 Saturday||8:00 PM||The Grove||Southaven, MS, US|
|Feb 22, 2008 Friday||8:00 PM||Capture Studio Cafe||Tuscaloosa, AL, US|
|Feb 21, 2008 Thursday||8:00 PM||Strange Brew||Starkville, MS, US|