Anthony Smith | That X Factor Guy
Fame Studios in steamy Muscle Shoals, Ala. is where versatile songwriter, producer, and arranger Anthony Smith got his entrée to the music business. He and a college friend thought they could just knock on studio doors around town and sell their songs, but after multiple rejections Smith licked his wounds and took a little different approach.
“I flipped my collar up, put on some dark glasses and a hat, and buzzed at the front door of Fame Studios, explaining that I was an arranger from the West Coast and I’d like to talk to somebody about doing an arrangement,” he laughs. “They actually buzzed me right in.”
Smith was given the phone number of Harrison Calloway, the trumpeter and arranger for the venerable Muscle Shoals Horns. He called Calloway, who asked him to send some demos of his work. Eventually, Smith submitted one song that caught Calloway’s ear, “Get Down Tonight,” a dance tune that landed on the Horns’ 1983 Monument Records album Shine On.
As a trumpet player in high school, Smith always thought he’d play jazz in a big band, so he studied composition and music theory at the University of Alabama. His impressive range has allowed him to work with artists in multiple genres and earned him the reputation of having the “X-factor.” He’s achieved success in country, pop, R&B and jazz.
Smith and cowriter Frank Myers’ poignant song “I Want My Life Back” is the current lead single for country artist Bucky Covington’s sophomore album.
Smith’s previous hits include “When Love Cries” by Donna Summer; “Watch This” by Clay Walker; “What About Now” by Lonestar; “Love Happens Like That” by Neil McCoy; and “Jimmy’s Got a Girlfriend” by The Wilkinsons. His film credits include “Almost an Angel,” “Earth Force,” and “Graveyard Shift.” He also crafts commercial jingles, including the “Titans on Two” football song for WKRN Channel 2 in Nashville. Smith produced the debut albums for the band South Sixty-Five and country artist Trini Triggs. He also worked with Kirk Whalum on his album In This Life.
“Love Is All There Is,” a song Smith penned with Michael Garvin and Winston Sela, was originally recorded by Euro pop singer Dana International in 1999, and has since been cut more than 10 times internationally and with two Spanish translations and two Finnish translations. RBD, a Latin-Grammy nominated Mexican pop group, recorded the song as “Amor Fugaz” in 2007.
“I’m constantly astonished how your music can reach people, and they don’t know you, but they admire some work you have done. Your music travels and gets to places you may or may not ever go to,” Smith enthuses. “The journey and the people I’ve met have been fascinating.”