31 Days of Women: Caitlyn Smith

Credit: Shervin Lainez

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Women’s History Month, You Sing I Write is highlighting female country artists and songwriters throughout March.

After 10 years in Nashville, Monument Records recording artist Caitlyn Smith releases her debut country single, “I Can’t.” A revered songwriter who has penned songs for Trisha Yearwood (“Every Girl in This Town”), Garth Brooks (“Tacoma”) and Lady A (“747”), Smith collaborates with longtime friends and frequent co-writers Old Dominion on the duet.

Smith, who moved to Nashville from Cannon Falls, MN, in 2010, has seen Music City transform over the past decade. It’s the town’s evolution that helped inform the song’s theme.

“Every time I end up going downtown, it looks like a different city,” she tells me. “Pre-pandemic, I was driving to a session in East Nashville, and I was driving by downtown and noticing the skyline and the skyscrapers, seeing my city changing right before my eyes.”

She says the drive inspired the song and its opening line: “This ain’t a 20-minute town no more/ It don’t look the same.”

“I started thinking about change in general. The city has changed, but also myself as a person,” she says. “Thank God, I’m not the same girl that moved here 10 years ago. It’s a beautiful thing that we all hopefully are going through. We’re constantly moving, constantly evolving humans, but sometimes change can just be so difficult and it can be so painful, and it can feel impossible.”

Smith initially released “I Can’t” on sophomore album Supernova last March. On Sept. 25, she unveiled Supernova (Deluxe) with the addition of Old Dominion on “I Can’t” and a cover of Coldplay’s “Fix You.” While Smith never intended the song to be a duet, when discussing the deluxe version of the album she knew she wanted a collaboration. Upon revisiting “I Can’t” she felt it was a song many people could sing together and the perfect song to pull some friends on.

“I Can’t” is the first collaboration for both Smith and Old Dominion. The song includes frontman Matthew Ramsey on vocals, with the band assisting on the accompanying music. Old Dominion guitarist Brad Tursi puts his own spin on the track and is one of the first writers Smith met after moving to town.

“I’m so grateful they said yes to do this,” she says. “I think they just got really excited because it’s a little bit different than what they are used to doing, but it still makes sense. It’s a beautiful full-circle moment that [Tursi] was really one of the first writers I met in town and now to have a collaboration out is really special.”

Listen to Caitlyn Smith’s new single “I Can’t” below. Read more of my interview with her at Country Insider and learn more about her songwriting journey at Sounds Like Nashville.


31 Days of Women: Caitlyn Smith


Caitlyn Smith has written hits for numerous artists including Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” Cassadee Pope’s “Wasting All These Tears,” Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s “You Can’t Make Old Friends” and Garth Brooks’ “Tacoma,” among others. After years of writing for other acts, Smith released her excellent debut album, Starfire, in January.

I’ve interviewed her several times over the years and Smith’s energy is contagious. Additionally, her star power is evident in the live setting where her voice soars majestically. Take a listen to “Tacoma” below for further proof.



“I’ve been writing in Nashville for probably 12 years,” she told me back in 2015. “I tell people it’s 90% disappointing. A lot of times you’ll write a song and be like, ‘Yay! This a masterpiece.’ And maybe you’ll show it to somebody, and maybe it’ll get put on hold, and then it won’t get cut. Or, maybe it will get cut, but it won’t make the record. Or, maybe it will make the record but it won’t be a single. There’s a lot of disappointment.”

This disappointment can be heard on her standout track, “This Town is Killing Me,” which you can hear below. Despite the struggles songwriting can often bring, Smith has learned to celebrate every small success.

“I remember that first couple years that I moved to town. Anytime something awesome would happen I would go and buy a bottle of champagne and we would celebrate, because it’s really an exciting journey. Celebrate the little things,” she adds.



Smith will be celebrating a new album and headlining tour this week at SXSW. If you’re in Austin, be sure to catch one of her showcases.

Songwriting Session

Songwriting Session with Caitlyn Smith


Courtesy Essential Broadcast Media

Songwriting Session is a column that goes behind-the-scenes with artists and songwriters. Each Sunday, a new songwriter will share their journey and provide lessons they’ve learned along the way. This week, Caitlyn Smith shares what she has learned as a songwriter.


Caitlyn Smith’s first song dates back to elementary school. She was eight years old when she began writing the verses for a song she titled “It Felt Like Magic.”

“Then I co-wrote and finished it with one of my friends on the playground and we’d sing it to our recess lady,” she recalls with a laugh over ice cream at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Nashville’s 12South neighborhood. “It was there that really sparked an excitement and a curiosity for me around songwriting and so I continued to do it.”

By the time Smith was a teenager, she was frequently traveling back and forth to Nashville from her home in Minnesota to co-write and meet with publishers. It was during these visits that she realized she could have a career writing songs and she set a personal goal to write 52 songs a year. She quickly learned the Nashville style of writing, which she says typically starts around a title or a riff, melody or groove.

Smith’s dream was to be an artist but she saw writing songs as a “really great plan B,” she explains. Through a series of connections she met Beth Laird, who worked at BMI at the time, and introduced her to several publishers. For years, Smith would travel to Nashville to meet with publishers and after being featured on a BMI showcase she found herself with several offers. Now writing for Cornman Music, she spends her days writing for other artists as well as focusing on music for her solo album which is due out next year.

“It was years and years of writing and rewriting and coming back and forth,” she explains. “The best decision was moving here though because it made it a lot easier to be submerged in the culture and have the luxury of co-writers around you at all times. When an idea strikes you can call someone and they’ll write it with you and it’s way easier that writing by yourself.”

Living in Nashville for the past six years has allowed Smith the ability to write with a number of artists, one being Meghan Trainor, who was just a songwriter when they sat down with Justin Weaver to write what would become her No. 1 song “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” As Smith recalls, the song had a reggae feel with her singing on the demo and Trainor playing ukulele.

“My publisher set the three of us up and I was really excited about it because I had heard some of her stuff and I was already obsessed. It was a super fun day,” Smith recalls of the write several years ago. There was no pressure because she at that time didn’t have a record deal so we were like, ‘Let’s write the best song that we can write today!’ Someone threw out the title and the song happened pretty magically and quickly.”



For more of my interview with Caitlyn Smith, visit Sounds Like Nashville. Her EP Starfire is out now.


Nashville Meets New York: Thank You!

Nashville Meets New York 2

It’s been over a week, but I still can’t stop smiling after the show on March 13 at Highline Ballroom. Thank you to the 200+ people who came out and celebrated these three talented ladies from Nashville pictured above, Michaela Anne, Mary Bragg and Caitlyn Smith as well as Your Ex-Girlfriends and Abby Hollander Band who opened the show.

It’s always my goal to put together a show where you walk away wanting to know more about the artists playing, buy a CD and plan to see them the next time they’re in town. The response to my Nashville Meets New York: Women of Country to Watch showcase was incredible and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve declared 2015 as the year females take back country radio and with artists like the five who played last week I think my prediction is close to coming true.

Thanks again to everyone who came out! Below are a few videos from the show.

“Wildfire” by @marybragg. I’ll never forget first hearing her perform this at The Bluebird last year. Incredible!

A video posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on


Caitlyn Smith playing “Tacoma,” a song she wrote and was recorded by Garth Brooks on his latest album! A video posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on


Love ladies collaborating! @marybragg and Michaela Anne singing “Can’t Afford To,” a song they wrote together.

A video posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on


Who doesn’t like a Hank Williams cover? Michaela Anne is killing it right now.

A video posted by Annie Reuter (@yousingiwrite) on


nashville meets new york


Contest Features

Win Two Tickets to Nashville Meets New York On Friday!

nashville meets new york

I’m beyond excited to be hosting an evening of live music with some very talented ladies. This Friday, March 13, join me at Highline Ballroom for Nashville Meets New York, a concert featuring some of country music’s best up-and-coming talent.

I’ll also be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. Do you want to go? Send me a tweet @yousingiwrite or a Facebook message and tell me why you want to attend the showcase to enter for a chance to win.

More details on the show are below. Visit Highline Ballroom for more info and to purchase tickets. See you Friday!


Who: Caitlyn Smith, Mary Bragg, Michaela Anne, Your-Ex Girlfriends, Abby Hollander Band
What: A female country showcase you won’t forget
Where: Highline Ballroom, 431 W. 16th St. Between 9th Ave and 10th Ave, New York, NY 10011
When: Friday, March 13, 2015 from 7pm-10pm
Why: To celebrate the brightest talent in country music!
How Much: $15-$18


5 New Female Country Artists to Know in 2015



Caitlyn Smith, Kelleigh Bannen, Kelsea Ballerini, Michaela Anne and Mickey Guyton (Courtesy: Spencer Combs, Universal Music Group, Black River Publishing, Five Head Entertainment, Capitol Records Nashville)

While 2014 may not have been a stellar year for females on country radio, it was a memorable year for breakout country acts like Brandy Clark, Angaleena Presley and Maddie and Tae to be introduced to the mainstream.

Last year did, however, wind down with a big No. 1 radio hit for Maddie & Tae and two high-profile GRAMMY nominations for Clark, so we take that as a good sign for things to come. And with additional new female artists continuing to gather attention for their songs, we can already tell that 2015 is setting up to be strong year for women in country music.

I’ve picked out five new female country artists that I feel have both the talent and the potential to break out this year and provide fans with new songs and a fresh point of view. Listen to their music below, then if you like what you hear, put them on your playlist and request their songs at your local radio stations.

Here’s hoping that 2015 will be the year the ladies take back the radio from the bros.

1. Michaela Anne



Michaela Anne is well-known in the Brooklyn alt-country music scene and has opened up for acts like Brandy Clark, Steel Magnolias and country-punk powerhouse Lydia Loveless. On top of that, her excellent 2014 release Ease My Mind separates her from the pack. Whispered vocals are sung over wavering banjo, harmonica and pedal steel, making for the most traditional-sounding country record we’ve heard in a while. Tracks like the yearning “Black and Gray” strike an emotional chord, while title track “Ease My Mind” showcases her fun side.

2. Mickey Guyton



Mickey Guyton is kicking off 2015 with great strides. She made her Opry debut this past weekend, and she just released her very first single to radio on Monday (Jan. 12). Titled “Better Than You Left Me,” it’s a soulful track that shows off her powerhouse singing. On the song, Guyton laments about an ex who left her only to try to win her back months later. But Guyton isn’t having it: she’s stronger and has long moved on. An anthem for anyone who has had their heartbroken, why wouldn’t you root for Guyton?

3. Kelsea Ballerini



Kelsea Ballerini’s latest single “Love Me Like You Mean It” is already getting radio play, which is a huge feat for females in country. The former dancer (yes, she was a ballerina) was also named CMT’s Next Women In Country last year, proving she’s well on her way to representing the ladies of country music. While Ballerini admits her discovery of country music was a bit late, the Knoxville, Tenn. native came on the scene at the perfect time as her single was the most added female debut of 2014.

For my complete write-up, visit

Artist of the Week

Artist of the Week: Caitlyn Smith


(Credit: Spencer Combs)

Caitlyn Smith has been writing for as long as she can remember. As a kid, she’d sit in her bedroom for hours coming up with stories and songs.

“I started writing when I was 8 years old,” she told me over coffee during a recent visit to New York. “And instead of doing the normal kid thing of sports, I would come home from school and go into my closet and push the dresser all the way to the side and sit in my closet and write. I would write poetry. I would write songs. I would just make stuff up for hours.”

All that practice came to fruition last year when the country singer-songwriter heard a song she had written on the radio for the first time. It was a song she’d written with her husband, Rollie Gaalswyk, over a bottle of red wine called “Wasting All These Tears,” which was recorded by Cassadee Pope.

“He [Gaalswyk] was in the garage and had the radio on, and the song came on and he runs in the house and he’s like, ‘Get out here!’ And so I run out into the garage and we turn it up all the way and dance around our garage. It was just a super magical moment. Really, really fun,” she recalls with a big smile.



To some, it might sound strange to write a breakup song like “Wasting All These Tears” with your husband, but for Smith it’s just another day at work.

“We’re both writers and we both have crazy ideas and crazy lines coming,” she admits. “I don’t always write from, ‘I have lived every word of this song.’ Sometimes when you write you put on an actor hat and you can play a different character, which makes writing breakup songs with your husband a little easier.”

She says that the two of them “keep doing it because we like writing with each other. Sometimes it ends in a fight,” she laughs, “and sometimes it’s awesome.”

“Wasting All These Tears” became a platinum-selling single for Pope. But it’s not the only song that has helped raise Smith’s profile as a writer. Her catalog also includes songs that have been cut by such high-profile artists as Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (the GRAMMY-nominated “You Can’t Make Old Friends”), Lady Antebellum (“747″), Rascal Flatts (“Let It Hurt”) and even Garth Brooks (“Tacoma”). More recently, Smith has her writing credit on Meghan Trainor’s new album Title where Trainor duets with John Legend on a song called “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.”

In addition to songwriting, Smith has been a performer as well for years. She’s recorded and released several albums on her own—her first at 15 years old—and just this past fall released a seven-song EP titled Everything To You. While “Tacoma” isn’t on the track list, the EP does include Smith’s own version of “Wasting All These Tears,” along with six more tracks that showcase her powerful storytelling.



For more of my interview with Caitlyn Smith, visit