If not for a bad knee, Shaye Smith may have never become a songwriter. While playing basketball in college at the University of Arkansas at Monticello, Shaye became an All-American and was asked to play for a pro team in Italy after graduation. However, after aggravating an old knee injury during a post-season pick-up game, Smith decided to hang up the basketball shoes for good.
Upon graduation, she went back to her hometown of DeWitt, Arkansas and lived with her parents, anticipating starting graduate school the following year. During that layoff from school, Smith got a job working as a DJ at a local country radio station. “It was really the only job I could get in my tiny hometown of just over 3000 people. Personally, I didn’t even like country music...or so I thought. But the more I listened, the more I realized the country songs each told my life story in some way. It wasn’t long until I started trying to write country songs.”
After short radio DJ jobs in Ruston, Louisiana and Fort Smith, Arkansas, Smith made the decision to move to Nashville. On February 3, 1993, she packed up everything she owned in a horse trailer...along with $250...and got an apartment in a Nashville suburb. During the day, she worked as a DJ at a local country radio station...and wrote songs with anyone who would give her a chance to co-write during nights and weekends.
Within two years, Shaye had her first cut, which also turned out to be her first #1 – “One Boy, One Girl” by Collin Raye. Her next 3 radio singles also made it to #1 – Kenny Chesney’s “That’s Why I’m Here,”...Chely Wright’s “Single White Female,”...and Jamie O’Neal’s “There Is No Arizona.” Shaye followed those up with the top 5 hits, “Songs About Me” by Trace Adkins, “I Should Be Sleeping” by Emerson Drive, “Complicated” by Carolyn Dawn Johnson and “Somebody’s Hero” by Jamie O’Neal. In addition, Martina McBride’s “How Far” made it to #11...with Jamie O’Neal’s “Shiver” landing at #19. Up to date, Smith has had more than ten #1 singles worldwide, including the biggest pop hit ever in New Zealand...and nearly twenty top 40 hits in the U.S. alone.
In 2001, Smith won the CCMA Song of the Year for “Complicated”...and also took home the Music Row Magazine Song of the Year for “There Is
No Arizona”. Then, in 2002, she garnered a Grammy nomination for “Arizona.” Another CCMA Song of the Year came Smith’s way in 2004 for the Carolyn Dawn Johnson tune “Die Of A Broken Heart.” In 2011, Shaye was again nominated...this time for a Dove Award. Through the years, she has also amassed 9 BMI country awards and 1 BMI pop award.
All in all, more than 100 of Shaye’s songs have been recorded by major artists, including Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Reba McEntire, Collin Raye, Trace Adkins, Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Sara Evans, Jamie O’Neal, Chely Wright, Jewel, Billy Ray Cyrus, Five for Fighting, JoDee Messina and many, many more.
Smith spent 13 years as a staff-writer at EMI Music Publishing before selling her catalog to the Irish independent publisher, S1, and becoming a staff writer there, then moving over to Chrysalis Music...and eventually BMG Rights.
In 2009, Shaye helped form an alternative rock band, Fools For Rowan, co-writing and co-producing the entire album and opening an independent label to service the band. Over time, she managed the band and actually obtained tour dates for the band with such rock luminaries as Evanescence, Sick Puppies, Halestorm, Trapt, Skillet, Gin Blossoms and many more. The band’s music videos were also played on MTV and Fuse, while the band’s music was used in several episodes of MTV’s Real World.
Recently, Smith collaborated with Tammy Hyler to co-write and co-produce 9 songs for the Billy Ray Cyrus movie, Like A Country Song and actually worked in the studio with Billy Ray Cyrus to co-produce the title track, which became a radio single.