“It’s always been my little girl dream and it really has never left me,” rising country artist Jennifer Smestad tells us when she talks about her path to pursuing music in our most recent interview.
The singer who found huge success while aimlessly posting on TikTok, grew up in Gilbert, Arizona listening to and being inspired by 90s country music before finally making the big move to Nashville in 2016 to achieve her goals. “I’m basically still a three-year-old dreamer in a 28-year-old body.” She recalls being able to sing since she could talk, and despite a bumpy, irregular road filled with pageants, anxiety, and a neurological disorder, she knew deep down that singing was what she would always end up doing.
When Smestad was young she was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, OCD, and social anxiety at the mere age of 10. “It was very severe around that time for quite a few years, especially knowing at that young of an age that I wanted to do music it was definitely hard because I didn’t think it was ever gonna be possible.” She constantly tried to hide what she was going through and feared being judged by her peers. With the help of Chinese acupuncture and simply throwing herself out there despite the fear, she learned how to cope and come out stronger on the other side. “I can’t describe it. I don’t know if I’m born with it or if it’s just a personality trait, but I’ve always had some type of determination inside me that if I want something, I will figure out how to get it,” she explains.
That was proven true when she was 20-years-old and competed in the Miss Arizona pageant. She won the title after conquering her fear of public speaking. When she looks back on her pageant days, she remembers she wasn’t given a lot of freedom when it came to who she worked with, what she wore, and what songs she was allowed to sing. She looks back at that experience and wishes she would have done things differently but at the same time, it has helped her in the entertainment industry because she now knows giving her input is a must. “I will stand up for some things that I want as an artist and as a creative, so it helps me a lot with that kind of stuff.”
In 2018, Smestad released a debut, self-titled EP. Recently, she found huge and unpredictable success on the app TikTok. Her song titled “Half the Man,” a sweet ballad circling around the special relationship she has with her dad, blew up overnight. “I posted it at like 2 a.m. on a Wednesday or something random like that. I was just hoping for a couple of thousand views and I woke up with about 40 thousand views and every minute it was going up a thousand. I was watching it go viral.” Currently, the song has over 6 million streams on Spotify alone, and on TikTok, people have used the sound in their own videos over 180 thousand times. Those videos are typically of people recording special moments with their dads, and Smestad’s own father feels that it’s the best part of the song’s success. “He thinks that the main thing is how many people have connected to it, and he loves that because of our father-daughter bond and relationship, that we’ve gotten to see hundreds of thousands of other people’s bonds with their dads or it’s reconnected dads and daughters,” she explained. “He just loves that our relationship and a song that I wrote can impact others.” Even some of the TikToks using the track as background music have gone viral with millions of views and likes.
Smestad’s most recent release, “Can’t Have Mine,” a slow, vulnerable track about not being appreciated in a relationship, was released at the end of March. She currently teases her new music through her TikTok account with over 265 thousand followers, and hopes to release more music in the near future; she writes about three to five times a week. The goal is to eventually release a project as she excitedly tells us, “There’s so many songs that I want everybody to hear already.” You can keep up with Jennifer Smestad by following her TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter accounts.
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