“It kind of came to the ultimatum: either fight bulls or play music.”
Country singer Lane Smith is no stranger to hard living and hard work—raised just north of San Antonio in Spring Branch, Texas, he grew up rodeoing, specifically as a bullfighter. He chose that piece of the equation because it was the part he could control, and it was a bit less scary than riding bulls. As an outsider, admittedly, it’s a little hard to grasp the nuance.
The overlap between country music and rodeo culture is strong, and well -documented. Chris LeDoux and Garth Brooks told us all about it—the sport isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s stretches away from home, from loved ones, with long, dirty hours and no guarantee of a payoff.
In fact, it’s more likely to imagine a scenario of walking away beat up, busted, and possibly even further away from a goal than where you might’ve started. It’s not that different than playing shows on the road or that far removed from the idea of embarking on an independent career in country music that you plan to build from the ground up.
But that’s exactly what Smith has done. He released his first EP in 2018 and another in 2021, with singles earning more than a million plays on all platforms. His catchy blend of country music “will chill you to the bones while you’re tappin' your feet,” as his song “Big Show” exclaims.
And it seems to be catching on. He’s already crossed off a few of his bucket-list venues, including the legendary Gruene Hall, along with supporting slots with artists like Kyle Park, Matt Stell, Colt Ford and Chase Matthews, to name just a few.
“I loved rodeoing from the day I started to the day I decided music was where I wanted to be,” he says. “But I had two dreams growing up; one was rodeo and one was music, and I’m glad that’s where I’ve landed now.”
In college, Smith pivoted from the rodeo circuit to trying his hand at a music career—he’d picked up his first guitar and quickly fell in love. After a chorus of encouragement from friends, he released his first songs.
“I had always pushed the music off because it seemed so far-fetched, but after watching all the concerts after every rodeo, I thought, ‘What if I did give it a shot?’ It overtook pretty fast once I hung my cleats up.”
Smith is letting the momentum take hold, but it isn’t without his steady work ethic behind it all.
“Everything seems like a dream until you're actually living it,” he says. “You start to see tiny bits of success through the trials and tribulations. You start gaining true genuine fans, you watch your stats start climbing and you’d be a fool to even think of stopping. Look at all the time and money you’ve already put into your dream. There's no quitting once you start.”
Smith is planning to quickly embark on the next phase of things. Following additional singles this year, including “I Can’t Sleep,” which has already garnered extensive plays on streaming services, he’ll finally release his debut full-length album on June 16, 2023.
“I strive to get better every day, and stay getting better every day,” he says. It’s impossible not to believe him.