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

Features First Person Q&A

You Sing I Write’s Top 13 Interviews of 2013

kenny rogers

It’s hard to believe 2013 is coming to a close. I’ve been so lucky to interview some incredible artists this year, some that I never would have dreamed of getting the chance and others I’ve been dreaming up meeting since the seventh grade. Here’s my Top 13 interviews of 2013.

1. Nick Carter of the Backstreet Boys

Do I need to say more? He filled me in on how difficult life as a boy band can be when your fiance is receiving death threats on a daily basis. That made me throw away my lifelong dream of marrying fellow bandmate Brian Littrell. Yes, I truly grew up in 2013.

2. Willie Nelson

I interviewed Willie on his tour bus and yes, it did smell like pot. I’m not quite sure if I got a contact high, just because I was so high on life after interviewing him. And that’s the truth. A true legend, he opened up about why he can’t live without songwriting and how the first time he heard his voice played back to him he hated it.

3. Kenny Rogers

The Gambler. He had the absolute best stories and a true passion and gratefulness for his long career.



4. Robin Thicke

I interviewed him the week “Blurred Lines” went to No. 1. Also, this was the first time I ever interviewed an artist who kept his sunglasses on throughout the entire interview which was a little awkward at first. And he gave me some great relationship advice.



5. Gavin DeGraw

The first concert I ever covered back in college, this interview was a long time coming. And I finally learned the story behind his hit “I Don’t Want To Be.”



6. Jack Johnson

My roommates throughout college had his music on repeat. I’m  happy to say he’s exactly the man you think he is as perceived in his music.



7. Plain White T’s

The first song I ever learned on guitar was “Hey There Delilah” and Tim and Tom made me blush while I recounted the story of my friend teaching me. In all fairness, they did have some pretty interesting views on relationships.

8. Brett Eldredge

I must confess after interviewing him three times this year, I may have developed a slight crush on this country singer. His album Bring You Back is by far my most listened to release from this year.



9. Deana Carter

After seeing Deana Carter perform at the CMA Songwriters Series, I was excited to talk with her on the phone and learn about her latest album. The conversation geared it’s way into talking about how much we both love the TV show Nashville where she filled me in that she in fact auditioned for the star role.

10. Toby Keith

I came to learn the full story behind the song we all love to hate “Red Solo Cup” and he gave me some exclusives to his album which came out this fall.

11. Jason Derulo

The most thoughtful interview, I was at first startled at how he would stop and really think about answering my every question. After a while, I just let the dead air stay until he told me what he wanted to say and truthfully, I think that’s the best way to conduct an interview. Leave space to let the artist really open up and tell you something they may not have otherwise if you just jump to ask them the next question.



12. Will Hoge

I sat on his tour bus before a performance at The Bell House in Brooklyn as he told me the story behind my favorite country song, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart” and opened up about country music.

13. A Great Big World

I was so excited to see this band succeed this year as I’d been catching them perform over the years throughout New York. There’s something so refreshing about a band you saw perform at a tiny club in New York to sharing a stage with Christina Aguilera.


You Sing I Write October Wrap Up

kenny rogers

I’m writing this post from a lovely spot in Nashville, Tennessee, called Edgehill Cafe. Fans of the television show Nashville may recognize this name as being the record label home of Rayna James and they’d be correct. Located on the corner of Edgehill Ave. and Villa Pl, it’s also nearby the famed Music Row where many record labels are stationed as well as some songwriting houses.

This October, You Sing I Write celebrated six years. It’s crazy to think of everything I have accomplished since my very first post. Things came full circle last month when I sat down to interview Gavin DeGraw. The very first concert I ever covered back in college, I told him that his show was what initially sparked me to pursue music journalism. Surprised and humbled, he gave me a high-five and we went on with the interview, where he told me the story behind his monster hit “I Don’t Want To Be,” why he chose to pursue music, and his latest album Make A Move.

My friend Sarah highlighted YSIW last month. For the feature, we met up in Brooklyn and she interviewed me. It was strange to be on the other side of an interview but it also reminded me why I first created YSIW six years ago — to highlight bands I believe in. I’ve been lucky to be able to extend this coverage to the outlets I write for, which is more than I ever expected.

The major highlight of October was interviewing Kenny Rogers. He was such a pleasant interview and told the story behind so many of his older hits, meeting Dolly Parton for the first time, and his versatile career.



Another incredible moment this month included a lunchtime concert by Paul McCartney in Times Square. I’m not quite sure when I’ll get another opportunity to see one of the Beatles perform so I made sure I caught his brief gig. McCartney played a 15-minute set showcasing songs of his latest album, New. Tweeting out a mere half hour before he stepped in a truck on 46th and Broadway to perform, hundreds of fans showed up to catch a glimpse and hear some tunes.

I also interviewed Will Hoge, an incredible Nashville-based singer-songwriter, who also happens to have written one of my favorite country songs, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” Hoge has been in music for 15+ years and is brutally honest about the industry which was incredibly refreshing. On his tour bus, he told me the story behind “Even If It Breaks Your Heart,” which went all the way to No. 1 for the Eli Young Band.

After six years, I’m so grateful that I still love what I do. I really don’t know what I would do if I woke up one morning and was tired of music. Luckily, I don’t think that will ever happen.

Song of the Week

Song of the Week: “You Can’t Make Old Friends”

Kenny and Jim

With my high school reunion approaching and one of my close friends getting married next weekend, I thought this song was fitting for my song of the week. A sweet sentiment, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton’s song hits close to home as it’s so true — you can’t make old friends.

I’m blessed to still consider my best friends girls that I grew up with and met in middle school (and obsessed about boy bands with). It’s crazy to think I still keep in touch with people I met when I was 10-years-old, but over the years they’ve come to be my biggest supporters and I really don’t know what I’d do without them. It’s so rare to have friends that you’ve known for nearly two decades and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Kenny Rogers’ album, You Can’t Make Old Friends, will be released this Tuesday, October 8th. I’m interviewing  him tomorrow for so stay tuned for my complete article!