Smithfield Draw On Their Hometown Roots For Inspiration

Smithfield Draw On Their Hometown Roots For Inspiration
SmithField; Photo credit: Jason Myers

Waxahachie is one of those sleepy Texas towns, located about an hour south of Dallas-Ft. Worth. It’s close enough for people to go to the heart of the Metroplex for a day of shopping or a night of music, but far enough away to maintain its small-town charm. The beautiful courthouse, built in the Richardsonian Romanesque style, is the center of the town square, and is surrounded by antique shops, restaurants and art galleries.

The 2019 population of Waxahachie was estimated to be 37,988. Among the families who lived there was a young man and woman who aspired to be singers. Trey Smith was more into rock while Jennifer Fielder loved country music. The two would often go into the Metroplex to perform: Trey in the Deep Elum area which supported more of the rock style he enjoyed and Jennifer to visit Johnnie High’s Country Music Revue in Fort Worth, where her parents faithfully took her on weekends when she was booked there.

Trey and Jennifer were aware of each other as their families had deep ties going back three generations. The families would typically get together every Fourth of July and as the kids started to perform, each of them would be encouraged to sing at the event. Both admit that their respective families actually liked to pit them against each other, kind of like the “my kid sings better than your kid” situation. Although the two were aware that the other was singing in bands and seeking a music career, it never dawned on them to join forces to make that happen.

Smithfield; Photo credit: Jason Myers

“I grew up started in church, and I loved country music,” Jennifer tells Sounds Like Nashville. “My family would take me to the Johnnie High shows once I got brave enough to audition. People like LeAnn Rimes, Lee Ann Womack and Gary Morris all had sang on that show.”

Trey was a little more hesitant about performing live. “I grew up in my bedroom singing to myself,” he admits, “but when I did start performing live, I got addicted to it. My rock band played in Dallas in the Deep Elum area.”

There came a point, however, where fate interceded. “It was kinda like everything happens for a reason,” Trey says. “We each had our journey and our individual experience brought us together. My band broke up, she was looking for something new and exciting …”

“We couldn’t say no, our grandparents would talk!” Jennifer interjects with a laugh. “I’d always wanted to be in Nashville, thought maybe I would be in the business side, whatever God had for me. I just wanted to be in music. It was meant to be.”

When the two did come together as a duo in 2011, they didn’t play in Texas, because, as Jennifer puts it, “Texas has its own brand of country music and we felt we were more commercial country and would better fit into the Nashville sound.”

The two made the move to Nashville in 2012 and Waxahachie threw its full support behind the duo, by this time known as SmithField.

“It’s like Miranda’s (Lambert) song ‘Famous In A Small Town’ — people want to take pictures with us, there was a story in local paper,” Jennifer explains. “For the first time we are playing a hometown show, September 25 in the Amphitheatre. The whole town is getting behind it to make it special for us … that keeps you going, and you are real proud to be from there.

SmithField is the first male/female duo to break out in country music in more than a decade. “We’re very passionate about the duo dynamic in country music,” Trey says. “There’s been so few in the past 10 years. Thompson Square was the last one. It’s something we’ve been advocating a lot, we hope to be the one that breaks through.”

Jennifer says some people say that the male/female duet doesn’t work. “But it can work. Look at Conway and Loretta. Porter and Dolly. We know people love it, they tell us they love what we do so it does work. Brooks and Dunn broke open the male duo so we hope we can be that for other male/female duos. We hope we can open the door at labels and radio so they are excited about male/female duos again. We are passionate about seeing this work.”

They have accumulated quite a chain of success, including achieving 40 million streams and playing the Grand Ole Opry 30 times.

Thirty performances on the Grand Ole Opry is quite an accomplishment for a new act, and Trey says they will never forget their first performance there. “I remember somebody told us to ‘drink in every single moment because you’ll get off stage and you won’t remember anything from those eight minutes. So take the time to look around and remember it while you’re in the moment.”

Additionally they have headlined their own We Make Our Own tour as well as opening for the likes of Brothers Osborne, Scotty McCreery and Old Dominion. Additionally, they just released their third EP, New Town, (June 16) with six original songs, all of which they had a hand in writing.

New Town is the most personable thing we’ve written,” Jennifer acknowledges. “We pull our songs from inspiration and follow the advice to write what you know and write from the heart. If you do that people will connect with you as being genuine.” Plus, Trey points out, they sing and write from the perspective of both male and female.

The two agree that each song on the album can be listened to individually but that together the six tunes are a look at relationships … love, loss, happiness and sadness. The EP gives a distinctive look at all of these from each person’s perspective, so anyone who listens to the album can find a point where they go, “I’ve been there.” The songs are like that because they are about relationships that each of them has been involved in, and the writing is from the heart and filled with emotion.

When it comes to songs from the new EP, Jennifer cites “We’ll Figure It Out” as her favorite and the most personal. “We didn’t know about COVID when we wrote it. It was written from the situation that we were on an independent label for the second time. It didn’t feel right, we were uncomfortable with the situation, we didn’t think we’d go any farther where we were. During that time, that song is really truly our hearts and what we were going through. We didn’t know what would happen next but we knew we would figure it out because we had each other.”

Trey’s favorite song is “Burning Wings.” “The idea came to me because I was in a relationship that was doomed but I wanted to keep it going. Also the song is like my little rock outlet, because if you listen close you can hear alternative rock in the background.”

The duo has more in common than their love for music. They both love rescue dogs, and every month they do a benefit show in Nashville with proceeds from the show going to the animal rescue organization Proverbs 12:10.

The duo may be working hard on being successful with their careers, but they’ve not forgotten those hometown roots. When they write their songs, they draw from the characters they knew and stories they heard back in Waxahachie, and they will never forget the lessons taught to them by their parents and grandparents as they grew up in in that small Texas town.