Interview: CR Smith

The SXSW acts you don't want to miss

CR Smith was my neighbor, a church music director and an act I used to book for a summer concert series. Since then, CR has won a Paste Magazine and HGTV contest that is taking him to one of music’s coolest stages — SXSW. Meet the talented, charming and gorgeous CR Smith, along with a few other must-see SXSW bands.

What the heck is SXSW (aka South by Southwest)? >>

CR Smith

SheKnows: Let’s talk about you winning HGTV’s and Paste Magazine’s contest to find the next theme song for the House Hunters International promo. Walk me through that. How did you find out about it? What made you decide to enter?

CR Smith: I got an email and I had watched the show quite a bit. I recorded Life In Between in 2005, but it had been a while since I had been writing and I wanted to start again. I worked through something I liked and called my friend Edward Keels that I write songs with. I had to record it fast — I had the studio for a Friday afternoon. I submitted it on a Tuesday, and Thursday a guy from Paste Magazine emailed me to tell me I had unofficially won.

SK: Well, that sort of leads me to my next question: Where were you when you found out you'd won?

CS: At the gym actually.

SK: Did you win a stack o' cash?

CS: Uh, no money whatsoever. It was an exposure contest — just a great way to get your name out there.

South by Southwest: Have you heard the rumors? >>

SK: You started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2,000 to put together an EP, The Waiting, for SXSW. You got almost $8,000. What did that do for your confidence level?

CS: People have been crazy generous, which blew me away. I was very much feeling the love.

SK: You've been performing in front of thousands as a music director for Faith Chapel for years. So now that you’re headed to SXSW, where is your head? Are you pumped, nervous, ready to end it all? What's it like to be CR Smith right now?

CS: Excitedly nervous. Just to go to SXSW, I wasn't sure I'd ever get to go, let alone play.

SK: Anyone you're hoping to see or meet while you're there?

CS: This is going to sound kind of funny, but I'm really excited to meet the people from Paste Magazine that I've been working with on the phone, and I'm from Texas, so I'm hoping I'll get to see some friends and family.

CR SmithSK: Do you need an agent or PR rep? Because I happen to be free the weekend of SXSW. My fee is box wine.

CS: Wow. Box wine, huh? I'm not sure I want an agent who wants to be paid in box wine.

SK: I’ll try not to take that personally. On your Kickstarter website, something you said leapt out at me, and that was "God has a plan to use the brokenness in our lives." That's pretty powerful. Can you talk a minute about that?

CS: The past couple years for me have been difficult in a lot of different ways. I struggle with depression and anxiety issues and it was a matter of me just feeling a sense of hopelessness — I always felt before that there were better songs in me waiting to come out. This season of pain brought these songs out. I believe that God is using that brokenness and already has used it for great things.

SK: When you become a household name, interviewers will ask you really personal questions. As your friend, I feel like I should prepare you for this. So let's just get those out of the way now.

CS: Uh, OK.

SK: Facebook or Twitter?

CS: Twitter.

SK: A night out with friends or a solo dance sesh in your living room?

CS: (Laughing) Oh, I'm going to have to go with a night out with my friends if those are my only two options.

SK: You hesitated, CR.

CS: I tend to be more of a homebody, but dancing in my living room? That's not gonna happen.

SK: Real Housewives of New Jersey or Real Housewives of Orange County?

CS: Oh my word. I can't choose.

"This season of pain brought these songs out. I believe that God is using that brokenness and already has used it for great things."

SK: Boxers or briefs?

CS: I like boxer briefs.

SK: Kittens or wolverines?

CS: Wolverines.

SK: Seriously?

CS: Is there a man who would answer kittens?

SK: You have a point. No self-respecting man would answer kittens. Nicki Minaj or Mariah Carey?

CS: Keith Urban.

SK: Working out or sleeping in?

CS: Working out for sure.

SK: Lastly, when you win a Grammy, in your acceptance speech, be sure to say, “And I'd like to thank Kat for booking me at Josephine Crossing’s summer concert series.” OK? Oh, and be sure to come back and visit with me for SheKnows. I’ll be looking for an exclusive.

CS: OK, that will be first on my list. I'm sure when I'm super nervous, that will be the one thing I remember.

Photo credit: Jodie-Tenicin-Smith

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