Rising Country Artist Conner Smith Talks About His Hit “Creek Will Rise,” New Song “How It Looks From Here,” And Writing His Songs

Conner Smith
Conner Smith
(photo credit: Jack Owens)

Country singer/songwriter Conner Smith, who is just 22, got a very early start as a songwriter. He penned his first song at age six, and from that point he continued to study the craftsmanship of songwriting. Then when he was 16, the Tennessee prodigy’s talent was so apparent that he was signed to a music publishing deal. Smith has continued to hone his skills not only as a songwriter, but he has now become one of country music’s most anticipated new artists.

Smith wrote five of the six songs on 2022 debut EP, Didn’t Go Too Far (on the Valory Music Co. label), that featured his first Top 40 hit “Learn From It,” the viral hit “I Hate Alabama,” and the gold-certified “Take It Slow.” This EP was produced by country hitmaker, Zach Crowell.

Smith earned the Artist to Watch status in 2022 from Spotify, Amazon Music and Opry NextStage, and he became the only country artist on Pandora’s Ten List 2022. Smith’s latest single, the fast-paced, rollicking “Creek Will Rise,” has already risen to the Top 30 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart, and is still moving up.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Conner Smith, who tells how he co-wrote with his hit, “Creek Will Rise.”


Currently, Smith has been busy playing shows as part of country star Luke Bryan’s current tour.  He has also toured with Thomas Rhett, Parker McCollum, Ryan Hurd and Chase Rice. In addition, he headlined his own If I Went To College Tour featuring multiple sold-out stops. And this fall, he’ll be supporting Jordan Davis and Cole Swindell on select dates.

Conner Smith Interview
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Conner Smith. He talks about his start as a young songwriter, the story behind his new hit, “Creek Will Rise,” and soaking in this early success on tour with Luke Bryan. He also discusses his new song, “How It Looks From Here.”

BC: I’d like go back first and ask how you got started as a songwriter.

Conner Smith: From the age of six, literally, the only dream I’ve ever had was to write country songs. I became a student of it. I would watch interviews, and listen to these songs and break them down, and go in my room everyday after school and after baseball practice, and learn how to write songs and write my own songs. So that was where everything started for me. It was one of those phases that never ended.

Here’s the video of Conner Smith’s hit, “Creek Will Rise.”

BC: You had your first publishing deal at age 16, which is amazing.

Smith: Yeah, they say Nashville is a 10-year town and I started writing at six, and I got a publishing deal at 16. So it all lined up.

BC: How did that come about?

Smith: I was signed to BMI when I was nine years old, so I was the second youngest ever signed to BMI other than Michael Jackson I was told. At the time, (music exec) Clay Bradley signed me to BMI. It’s kind of this weird long story, but he heard about these songs I was writing, and he asked me to come in and play a couple for him. These songs that I wrote when I was nine, weren’t gonna be cut by Kenny Chesney, but you could tell I knew what I was doing a little bit. They had verses and a chorus and a bridge, and they had structure to them and some sort of formula.

Clay Bradley believed in me and said, “Man, you got such depth and I believe that you’re gonna be a great songwriter someday, and we would love to have you sign with BMI.” As a nine-year-old you’re like, “Shoot man, I’m a professional now.” And so that was something that really put fuel into the fire.

BC: How did you sign your first music publishing deal?

Smith: When I was 16, the moment that everything changed was, I posted on Instagram a video of me covering “Cop Car” by Keith Urban. And when I posted a video, I tagged the three songwriters who wrote it, which were Zach Crowell, Sam Hunt, and Matt Jenkins. Zach Crowell saw the video and for some weird reason he followed the magic in the video, and a week later I’m sitting in Zach’s studio, and at 16 he signs me to a publishing deal with (hit songwriter) Ashley Gorley. And from there, we began working and, spent the next five or six years just really developing it before we ever brought anything to life.

BC: You career is definitely alive! Let’s talk about some of your songs. How did the single “Creek Will Rise” (written with Parker Welling, Chase McGill & Chris LaCorete) come together?

Here’s the video of Conner Smith’s new song, “How It
Looks From Here.”

Smith: “Creek Will Rise” is a song that I had the idea for playing off the classic point of “Good Lord willing and the creeks don’t rise,” which was something I would say a lot. And then I started to think about in a songwriter way—the country hook of wanting the creek to rise so you could get stuck out there with your girl. So that was where it began Then I took that in with the writers…we were out on tour with Thomas Rhett at the time. I think we were in Salt Lake City or somewhere in the west, and I threw out the idea and they loved it, and we quickly landed on the vibe that it became. We just had a blast that day. It was so different from anything I’ve done yet, and it felt like a magic day. It kind of unlocked this door of what my music would really become.

BC: What’s it like for you to hear and see fans reaction to a song you’ve created? Did you also set out to be an artist?

Smith: Over the course of time, as I was writing so much, my voice kind of grew with that because I was singing so often. When I did sign a publishing deal, there was the prospect of me singing these songs. From there, you begin to record songs, try to figure out how to tell your story and then go out on the road and proceed to build a live show, and find out who you are as performer. I found that the two places in the world I felt most content, most comfortable, and most myself were in a writer’s room and on a stage. Getting to go out and kind of perfect the show and craft of who I am as an entertainer has been as fun for me because I feel like there is a level of comfortability, I have inside of it. I’m getting to go on the road and playing these songs and then hearing the fans, who know these songs and love these songs and live these songs. There’s no feeling in music like this.

BC: How did your new song “How It Looks From Here” develop with your co-writers Daniel Ross, Josh Jenkins, and Thomas Akins?

Smith: That song came about in a very Nashville songwriter way. It was a hook I threw out, and I had a lot of those melodies that ended up being in the chorus. It was the first day of a five-day songwriter retreat last December. We had two rooms we were writing in at all times and I would go back and forth. The very first day were two songs that we ended up recording. One of them was “How It Looks From Here,” and the other was a song that has yet to be released called “Roulette on the Heart,” which will be one of the best songs that I get to put out thus far. And so that’s kind of the fun story behind that song.

BC:  You reached gold-certified status with one of your earlier songs, “Take It Slow” that you wrote with Ryan Hurd and Mark Trussell. What’s the story behind that song?

Here’s the video of Conner Smith’s hit, “Take It Slow.”

Smith: Yeah, oddly enough, that song has been a special one for me. It was a pleasant surprise that this song became what it was. I had written that idea in my phone, and I imagined it because anytime you have an opportunity to take an idea and make it an upbeat song, you probably should try. I liked the juxtaposition of a song called “Take It Slow.” And it was Mark (Trussell) who started to play that guitar riff you hear in the acoustic version, and Ryan kind of birthed the idea of what the song would become, which was a really intimate, innocent love song. I did leave that day, and I had a little recording of the voice memo in the room. I couldn’t stop listening to that. So by the time I got the demo, I was like…this feels like a next level for me.

BC: Do you see your strength as a songwriter writing the lyrics, or melody?

Smith: I start on a lyric basis and then over the past few years, I feel like I’ve grown in understanding melody structure. But to me, my strength in the room are ideas and then kind of painting a picture. I always say that as a songwriter, we’re building puzzles every day. My strength in the room is painting the picture of the puzzle, and then when someone can put the puzzle together, I tend to write my best songs.

Here’s the link to Conner Smith’s site: https://www.connersmithmusic.com/

Bill Conger is a freelance writer for various publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, ParentLife, Homecoming, and Singing News and is currently writing a biography on The Osborne Brothers with Bobby Osborne. He can be reached at [email protected].