Myla Smith
Gig Seeker Pro

Myla Smith

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2006 | SELF

Memphis, Tennessee, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2006
Solo Pop Singer/Songwriter

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Apr
25
Myla Smith @ South Main Art Trolley Tours

Memphis, TN

Memphis, TN

Feb
19
Myla Smith @ The Bluebird Cafe

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Nashville, Tennessee, USA

Dec
31
Myla Smith @ Please refer to mylasmith.com for a complete calendar

Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Memphis, Tennessee, USA

Music

Press


Myla Smith is pursuing a music career from her home base in Memphis, yet a classic country element seeped into the title track of her newest album, Hiding Places. In the brave, soul-baring song, she contemplates a husband who would never cheat on her, although he still has demons to fight.

Smith recorded the project in Nashville with one of the city’s most innovative producers, Brad Jones. They decided to collaborate after she sent him an email which sparked a musical friendship and mutual respect.

“I thought the phrase ‘hiding places’ was very evocative on its own,” Smith says. “But when I looked at it again in context with all the other songs, it made even more sense as the album title. I believe that everyone has a deep, deep longing to be seen as we really are. This record explores some of the places we hide and is ultimately a call to take courage, come out of the shadows and chase the life we were meant to live.”

Her own career trajectory speaks to that belief. Smith’s early experience in show biz includes vocal overdubs for the child actors in the infamous Barney and Friends TV series. After getting her college degree in accounting with a 4.0 average, she opted to pursue a life in music instead. And certainly not one to hide, she’ll play a hometown show at Memphis’ River Arts Fest at the end of this month.

Don’t miss Myla Smith’s “Hiding Places.” - CMT Edge


For the video to her new single “Can’t Say No,” Myla Smith turned to a familiar location, the Jack Pirtle’s Chicken on Lamar Avenue, which was good because the video’s directors had her doing things that didn’t feel quite as natural to the Memphis pop-rock singer.

“I am definitely not a dancer,” Smith says of the comical clip, produced by local company New School Media Group, which casts her as a restaurant worker dreaming of escaping her rut. “They threw so much at me. They were like, we want you to dance and we want you to roller skate, and we want you to lip sync at the same time and deliver food. And I was like, ‘Y’all know the last time I roller skated was at Raleigh Skateland when ‘Danger Zone’ was the jam.’ I didn’t know how I was supposed to do all that at the same time, but I didn’t wipe out even once.”

In a testament to her performance, music industry bible Billboard recently featured the video on its online “Bubbling Under” spotlight for emerging artists, a sign that with her new album, Hiding Places, Smith, like her character, may be headed for better things.

On Friday, Smith celebrates the release of Hiding Places on her own Shake Rag Records label with a show at Minglewood Hall’s 1884 Lounge, with opening act Misti Rae.

Hiding Places comes not quite a year after Smith’s last release, the EP Drugs. The Shelby Forest native had not planned to turn around with another record so quickly, but an anonymous benefactor, impressed with what he heard on Drugs, offered to fund a full-length follow-up.

“I felt like I really had to jump on it. Those opportunities do not come around often,” Smith says. “It’s been kind of a blur. I’ve been working on this project pretty much nonstop since the last one, but I’m just thrilled how everything has come together.”

With funding for a record but no concrete songs to put on it, Smith had to dive headlong into the writing process. In a break from her usual scattered, fit-it-in-when-you-can approach, Smith made the conscious decision to head off to a lake house for a series of intensive weekend songwriting sessions.

With a stack of newly written songs, Smith next had to find a producer. She set her sights high, cold-sending demos to Nashville producer Brad Jones, known for his work with Tim Easton, Josh Rouse and Hayes Carll.

“I wasn’t sure about doing it. But when I heard her songs, I said, definitely, yes. There were just some really good songs in there,” says Jones, citing the emotional ballad “Sparks” and “Can’t Say No” as two that grabbed his imagination. “‘Can’t Say No,’ I was really taken by that because it was very much a pop-rock song but her vocal sounded almost like Dolly Parton. It was a very interesting blend.”

Working out of Nashville’s Alex the Great Recording studio, Jones set Smith one last challenge in making Hiding Places. He assembled a crack studio band that included Will Kimbrough and Memphis native Ross Rice, and then he placed Smith in front and let them all cut the basic tracks live.

“She actually was the bandleader on these sessions,” Jones says. “She was out on the floor with all the other musicians, calling out the tune, calling out the tempo, playing the guitar part herself, singing at the same time. She was very much more in command of the music this time than she was last time, and it shows because when you listen to the record, it sounds like this personal document.”

Smith plans to take her personal document on the road this fall in what she excitedly calls her first real tour. Also in the works are a second single and an accompanying video and Christmas single.

“I feel like some doors are opening, but the only thing I can do is try to make the best product that I can,” Smith says. “Somebody told me a long time ago that you just kind of have to get out there and move around. That’s all I’m really trying to do. I can’t really do much about whether people like it or not. I just have to try to put myself in a place where they’ll be able to hear it and find me. If they like it or not, that’s up to them, but at least I’ve done my part.” - The Commercial Appeal


Local singer-songwriter Myla Smith has released a handful of albums and EPs over the past half-decade but takes a step forward this week with Hiding Places, which has already been featured in Billboard magazine's "Bubbling Under" column.

"I definitely think it's the best thing I've put out, which is what you hope for," Smith says. "I thought the songs really came together on this record, and I had a lot of help from the producer, who I'd never worked with before."

Encouraged by her musician husband to "go big" on her next album, Smith had cold-called — or emailed, to be specific — Nashville-based producer Brad Jones, best known for his work with artists such as Josh Rouse, Over the Rhine, and Hayes Carll.

"It was a complete shot in the dark," says Smith, who was hopeful Jones would be interested but wasn't expecting a response. Instead, Jones requested demos of songs for the new project. Energized by the response, Smith went into overdrive writing more new material.

"He had a knack for bringing a lot out of me," Smith says of working with Jones. "I tend to be a perfectionist, but that's not always what connects the best with people."

Aiding this more personal songwriting and more rough-around-the-edges sound was a studio band featuring a couple of former Memphians in Ross Rice and Will Kimbrough, the former brought in at Smith's request. The album was recorded in May at Jones' Nashville studio.

Smith, who was raised in Shake Rag, a small community north of Millington, and graduated from the University of Memphis a few years back, got her start singing in the church choir but became serious about pursuing her music when she started writing songs in high school.

"I wanted to see if I could do it," she says.

A strong singer with a light touch, Smith's music moves comfortably between pop, folk, and country.

"All those lines are blurring. I'm fine with being in whatever genre people want to put me in," says Smith, who thinks of herself as "folk-pop" and says the folk side is probably what she loves most.

"People in Nashville say I'm more Americana or folk than country," Smith says. "I think that's about lyrical distinctions. Country music is more direct. There's not as much metaphor. And I like folk music mostly because I love those melodies. But I also love variety, so I can't help but write different kinds of songs."

On Hiding Places, the rootsier material — such as "Love in Black and White" or the more country-ish title song — stand out, but so does the pure pop of the lead single, "Can't Say No," which comes with an ebullient video shot by the local New School Media crew at a local Jack Pirtle's restaurant.

Smith will celebrate the release of Hiding Places with a show at Minglewood Hall's 1884 Lounge on Friday, September 13th, with Misti Rae opening. Showtime is 8 p.m. Admission is $5, or $10 with a copy of the album. - The Memphis Flyer


After living in Memphis for five years, I found myself liking country music and more acoustic style types of music, more than ever before. So that's opened me up to listening to a lot more artists and has helped me to broaden my horizons as a listener and appreciator of good music. If it weren't for that, I probably wouldn't have heard Myla Smith's newest album, Hiding Places. The singer/songwriter is originally from Shake Rag, Tennessee, and is now a transplant to Memphis, making her dream of being a professional artist a reality.

The album is very alternative country, on nearly all the tracks. Songs like the catchy opener "Can't Say No" can get stuck in your head for weeks, especially with Myla's fun Jack Pirtle's Chicken music video. You can just tell this girl has a lot of fun with everything she does, and she's a great performer. Through an interview, I learned that this was Myla's first record during which she recorded nearly everything live off the floor, save for a few overdubs. The resulting record is quite impressive, with the singer's style meshing very well with the numerous Memphis musicians strewn all the way through. Other more rock-infused tracks like "Lose Ya" showcase Myla's talent to try new things, adding lots of various sounds and genres during the entire song.

Ballads abound on the album as well, and none more emotional than the deeply personal "Love in Black and White". The song reminds of a time of when we met our first love, and the warmth of those times. Talking to Myla about this song, it's one of the most personal songs on the record, and it's a quite vulnerable section for her, but her wearing her heart on her sleeve does nothing but solidify her passion as an artist. "Yellow Paper Lanterns" feels similar, with its smooth, soothing flow and vivid imagery written by Myla and complimented by her vocals and sprinkling effects throughout. Another catchy and driving track, "Human Condition", as well as the passionate, yet almost jazzy "Just Us" incorporate more styles that Myla rides just right, and makes everything work this time around.

For her third album, Myla Smith has hit her stride, and there's no going down from here. Hearing her talk about her excitement for this album, I know that she has never been more proud of the music she has recorded, and there's no reason why everyone else shouldn't be just as excited. Myla Smith has lots of success in her future.

Be sure to check out the interview I got to do with Myla here, and check out her website as well at www.mylasmith.com. - Discovery Sessions


For four years after graduating from the University of Memphis (with a 4.0 GPA), pop singer/songwriter Myla Smith worked as a financial statement auditor. All along, however, her goal to be a musician beckoned. In 2006, while working 60 hours a week, she released her first album. After a second set and two EPs, Smith serves up "Hiding Places" (on Shake Rag Records, named after her Tennessee hometown) on Sept. 10, ushered in with lead single "Can't Say No." "I think it's probably the most complete expression of who I am as an artist," Smith says. "I tried hard to make every song one that people could connect with, which forced me to be really honest."
- Billboard Magazine


Her music just feels real, and that is hard to find - Brandon Klein, Consider Magazine


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 - Mark Jordan, The Commercial Appeal


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 - Mark Jordan, The Commercial Appeal


You can sure put Drugs up there in one of the most honest and beautiful EPs you’ll hear all year. - Olivia Cellamare, Gypsy Death & You Music Blog


Myla Smith is setting a new standard of quality for her fans and other indie musicians - IndieFolkPop.com


One part pop, one part country, all parts good. A sweet yet powerful voice, killer songwriting, and great production. Doing Memphis proud, Myla. - DustinCann.com


"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 - LinLori.com


"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 - LinLori.com


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. - The Commercial Appeal/Go Memphis


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. - The Commercial Appeal/Go Memphis


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 - The Commercial Appeal/Go Memphis Best of Memphis 2010 Edition


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 - The Commercial Appeal/Go Memphis Best of Memphis 2010 Edition


"Really great song" - Jamie Cullen, A&R Director for American Songwriter - Jamie Cullen


"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 - The Leader


"Smith's folk pop will immediately remind listeners of such singer-songwriters as Jewel or Alison Krauss, especially with that slight vibrato in her voice. But Smith's songs are fresh, catchy, and fully realized in their own right" - Mark Jordan - The Commercial Appeal


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

CPA and singer/songwriter might not seem like two titles that would share space on the same resume. But on Myla Smiths, 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 wasnt very complicated to me at all music was always like, of course Im 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 doesnt hide her nerd status shell 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 nearly four years after school, she worked (tirelessly) as a financial statement auditor.

But, just as shed 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. Id worked so hard to get here, and I stubbornly believed that I could make it work. But it just wasnt working. Whatever the dangling carrot was that everyone was trying to get, I realized, I dont even like carrots! What am I doing? It was never the right fit.

Myla says she finally got honest with herself that she couldnt do this job and do music really, she notes, you couldnt do this job and doanything and it was time for a change. She left the firm in 2007 and hasnt 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, whos 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 shed met and fallen in love with bassist/cellist Richard Thomas. They released White/Gold on their wedding day.

When Myla talks about how shes 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. Id always kind of felt like, Im a solo act, Ive 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 whats next.

So, what is next? Following the release of the critically acclaimed Drugs EP in October 2012, Myla spent a year writing in preparation for her next full-length. That record was recorded and produced by Brad Jones (Josh Rouse, Hayes Carll, Over the Rhine) and has earned critical praise since its release from Billboard and CMT Edge.

Band Members