West Virginians love their state and are proud of it to an extent where many return home after whatever journey life took them on. One man truly loves this state so much his music career led him right back.
“I am a fellow West Virginian,” said Steve Smith, an up-and-coming country artist that recently signed with West Virginia University’s record label, Mon Hills Records. “I was taught to always stay true to your roots, and that’s where I’m from.”
Smith just had to sign with Mon Hills Records because he wanted to keep wearing his signature WVU ball cap on stage, and some other labels would’ve stripped that off his character. It’s also why he doesn’t blend in well in the city of Pittsburgh.
“The Mountaineers absolutely cannot stand Pitt,” he said. “It’s the biggest rivalry that ever was in time, and one of the reasons Steve Smith doesn’t do well in Pittsburgh.”
Smith is very happy with his decision, however, because he loves his home so much.
“The reason that I wear the hat is, one, I’m proud to be a West Virginian and, two, Pa. has the Pirates, the Steelers, the Penguins - you name it, they got it,” Smith said. “What does West Virginia have? We have the Mountaineers, and I’ll stand behind them no matter what happens.”
He’s been around the east coast his whole life. Smith grew up in Uler, W.Va., and then moved to Johnstown, P.a. He had to bounce back to Morgantown for a job. But with the encouragement of a co-worker, Smith decided to re-marry, relocate to Maryland and pursue music for a living.
“I’m proud to be fortunate enough to sign a record deal with WVU,” Smith said, citing it’s only 42 miles away from his current home, not the 600 to Nashville. “I take a lot of pride in that and (I can) be a face for the record label that just started up.”
He’s been playing music seriously for only six years, and he gets encouragement from the people around him to keep with it.
“My wife has told me if I don’t play music, I get grumpy,” Smith said.
He’s also big into entertaining the crowd.
“I just like entertaining people. It’s fun. That’s what I do,” Smith said. “That’s one of the things that makes me happy, to see other people smile, and that’s cool. That’s one of the reasons I give back.”
Smith loves community because it’s how he started building up his confidence as a performer. He played guitar and other instruments for his Baptist church growing up. It’s only fitting he plays in his home state in his type of home church again.
“My Christianity roots run very, very deep, so it’s an honor to come back there and sing songs for people to enjoy and listen to,” Smith said. “Everyone’s still good at heart, no matter what denomination you are.”
Smith is playing original songs from 6:34 - 8:34 p.m. tonight at the URM Coffee House on the third floor of First Baptist Church on High Street.