Print | Back to e-WV The West Virginia Encyclopedia

Connie Smith


Country singer Connie Smith was the first solo female country artist to have a number one record for eight weeks-–a feat no female country artist has ever exceeded. She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1971. According to Dolly Parton, “There are only three great singers: Connie Smith, Barbra Streisand, and Linda Ronstadt. The rest of us are just pretending.”

Smith was born Constance June Meador on August 14, 1941, in Elkhart, Indiana, and raised in Hinton and Forest Hill in Summers County. Smith was living in Ohio in 1963 when she won a talent contest and came to the attention of country music songwriter and entertainer “Whispering Bill” Anderson. Anderson persuaded Smith to move to Nashville, where he helped her land a recording contract with RCA. Her first single, “Once a Day,” written by Anderson, was released in August 1964. The song was an instant hit and stayed at the number one spot for two months. In the following years, she had 19 Top Ten hits, including “Then and Only Then,” “Nobody but a Fool (Would Love You)," “The Hurtin’s All Over,” “Cincinnati, Ohio,” “Just One Time,” and “If It Ain’t Love (Let’s Leave It Alone).”

As Nashville moved to slicker, pop-styled singers and arrangements, Smith stuck with her traditional style. She became a born-again Christian in 1968 and began concentrating on gospel music. In the 1980s, she scaled back her touring and recording schedule and concentrated on raising her family. She married country music star Marty Stuart in 1997 and revitalized her career with a new release. Smith continues to perform and record and appears on the “Marty Stuart Television Show” on RFD TV. Through the years she has recorded more than 53 albums and has appeared in several films, including the 1986 Stephen King horror flick Maximum Overdrive and the 2008 film Thank You, Billy Graham.

She was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2011.

Written by Michael Lipton