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Connie Smith Selected as CMHoF 2011 Artist-in-Residence

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Connie SmithNashville, TN -- Legendary vocalist Connie Smith will bring her incomparable voice, her catalog of hits and some of her favorite collaborators when she takes the Ford Theater stage as the Country Music Hall of Fame (CMHoF) and Museum's 2011 Artist-in-Residence. Smith will serve as host and curator for the intimate evening performances, which are slated for August 22, August 29 and September 12 at 7:00 p.m.

Established in 2003, the Museum's residency program annually honors a musical master who can be credited with contributing a large and significant body of work to the canon of American popular music. Honorees are given a blank canvas-the Museum's acoustically pristine, 213-seat Ford Theater-and are encouraged to lend their own creative brushstrokes to an up-close-and-personal musical experience. Previous honorees include Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, Vince Gill and Buddy Miller.

"Connie Smith possesses one of the most powerful and recognizable voices in country music," said Museum Director Kyle Young. "Her body of work includes more than 50 albums, and her signature song, 'Once a Day,' remains one of country music's most popular classics. When Connie sings, she takes us on an emotional journey, wringing every teardrop and ounce of feeling from her lyrics. We are thrilled that she will be bringing those talents to the Ford Theater for three one-of-a-kind shows."

Born Constance June Meador in Indiana, Connie Smith grew up in West Virginia and Ohio in a family of 14 children. As a teen, she listened to both the Grand Ole Opry and pop radio. However, Smith didn't begin performing until age 18, when an accident left her bedridden and she passed the time teaching herself how to play the guitar. Once well, she began to perform at square dances and Grange halls. Smith also married and started a family.

In August 1963, 21-year-old Smith won a talent contest that preceded an Opry concert in Columbus, Ohio. First prize included a chance to sing on the program and, when she did, headliner Bill Anderson took note of Smith's talent. When Smith attended an Anderson concert in January 1964 and said hello to him in the autograph line, he suggested she consider moving to Nashville.

At Anderson's invitation, Smith flew to Nashville in March 1964 to sing on the Ernest Tubb Midnite Jamboree. Two months later, Anderson invited her back, this time to make a demo recording of four of his songs. Anderson's manager, Hubert Long, pitched the tape to Chet Atkins, who signed her to RCA.

Smith's debut single, the Anderson composition "Once a Day," was recorded with producer Bob Ferguson at RCA Studio B. Released in the summer of 1964, the song became a smash hit, spending eight weeks at #1, and was the first debut single by a female artist to top the country charts. A series of successful albums and Top Ten hits followed, including "Then and Only Then," "Ain't Had No Lovin'" and "Cincinnati, Ohio." In August 1965, Smith was invited to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She remains an Opry favorite, and Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs routinely refers to her as "the Rolls-Royce of country singers."

By the late 1960s, Smith was seeking a more spiritual path. In 1973, when she left RCA for Columbia Records, her contract specified that she be allowed to record a gospel album each year. At decade's end, Smith took a hiatus from touring and recording, devoting herself to home and family. She returned to the charts only briefly during this time, in 1985, with a recording of Steve Earle's "A Far Cry from You."

As the 1990s dawned and her five children were grown, Smith again focused on her music, writing songs and returning to performing. After a chance encounter with fellow country artist Marty Stuart, Smith asked him if he would be interested in working with her. Together, they co-wrote much of Smith's 1998 Warner Bros. CD, Connie Smith, which Stuart also produced. The working relationship blossomed into romance, and Smith and Stuart were married in 1997.

On August 23, Smith will release Long Line of Heartaches (Sugar Hill Records), her first new release in 13 years. The album, which Smith recorded at RCA Studio B, contains five new songs penned by Smith and Stuart, as well as compositions by Dallas Frazier, Harlan Howard, Kostas and more. The record features Smith's long-time band, the Sundowners, and one song-the contemporary hymn "Take My Hand"-includes harmonies from Smith's daughters Julie, Jeannie and Jodi. It is traditional country, delivered by one of country music's inimitable voices.

Connie Smith residency event tickets can be purchased by Museum members for $35 per show beginning Tuesday, August 2, at 10:00 a.m. by visiting CountryMusicHallOfFame.org or the Museum box office. (A one-year Museum membership is $40.) Tickets will go on sale for $45 per show to the general public at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, August 5, and can be purchased at CountryMusicHallOfFame.org or the Museum box office. Additionally, the Pinnacle at Symphony Place garage is offering attendees an $8 parking option on each of the performance evenings.

The Museum will also be offering special reception/ticket packages for each show; details to be announced soon at CountryMusicHallOfFame.org.

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