‘American Idol’ Alum Zachariah Smith Opens Up About Gaining Valuable Connections With Keith Urban And Luke Bryan

“These people really take the time to sit down, get a good look at you and give you some advice,” the singer shared.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

July 25, 2023


12:05 pm

Share on:

Zachariah Smith, Keith Urban, Luke Bryan; Photos Courtesy Facebook

Zachariah Smith’s experience on American Idol helped him reach new goals and gain some great connections with the judges, fellow contestants and a few musical guests that stopped by the show. While reflecting on the advice he received from various music industry professionals, Smith shared that Keith Urban and Luke Bryan both stand out as a two of the gracious mentors that he felt were most impactful on his journey.

Urban previously served as a judge on the series for seasons 12 through 15 and then returned to Idol in Season 21 as a performer and a mentor for the top three contestants – Megan Danielle, Colin Stough and winner, Iam Tongi. On the most recent finale night, which aired Sunday, May 21 on ABC’s live broadcast, the Australian country singer lit up the stage with his 2021 single “Wild Hearts.”

According to Smith, Urban’s talent and professionalism shined both on and off the stage. Even though Urban wasn’t serving as a direct mentor for Smith, the pair still got the chance to catch up behind the scenes and in that time, he found that Urban not only has a kind heart, but also is always ready to offer up some “great advice.”

“He had come to Idol and performed for the finale, and so I actually got to meet him backstage with a couple of his people from his team,” Smith shared with Country Now. “Then we met outside again, and we talked a little bit more. He’s really a down-to-earth guy, really funny.”

He went on to describe the moment Urban went above and beyond to showcase his kind spirit to the young artist and his family. 

“I happened to be on the phone with my wife and my mother-in-law, and so he actually grabbed the phone out of my hand, talked to them,” Smith continued. “They were all surprised. So he’s really a great guy.”

Throughout his time on the singing competition show, Zachariah Smith also worked closely with judges Katy Perry, Lionel Richie, and Luke Bryan. He explained that the country superstar, especially, provided a huge dose of encouragement throughout all the highs and lows of the grueling competition. 

I can’t tell you how many times Luke would pull me aside and just be like, ‘listen, buddy, if we had a note, we would give it to you. Just keep on doing what you’re doing. You’re doing great. Everybody loves you.’”

“That’s the great thing about these judges, whether they’ve been on Idol or not, or they come in as a guest judge, Alanis Morissette, and Ed Sheeran, they weren’t ever a judge before, but they did great,” Smith said before adding, “And these people really take the time to sit down, get a good look at you and give you some advice. So it’s really cool to have all the connections all the way around,” he said in conclusion. 

Before landing a spot among the Top 5 contestants on American Idol, Smith was living a simple life, flipping burgers in a local restaurant in Mississippi and helping raise three kids with his wife, Crysta Marie. Now that the world has gotten a taste of his energetic spirit and undeniable talent, Smith is seeing his dreams of becoming a full-time artist come true. 

Zachariah Smith; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless
Zachariah Smith; Photo by ABC/Eric McCandless

So far, the Mississippi native has only released one single titled, “American Grace,” but his catalog of songs appears to be growing more and more each day. During his time on Idol, he recalled feeling heavily persuaded to lean into his country side, but when it comes to his next project, he plans to keep an open mind and not stay confined to one genre.  

“When I was with Idol, they basically pitched me ‘American Grace’ and they pitched me a bunch of songs. I’d given them a couple of songs that I had written, and they weren’t too sure about it. They tried to box me into the country lane, and the thing with me is I love country and rock and roll. I can sing both. And so I think that’s what fans can expect for this next EP or album, whatever you want to call it.”

Zachariah Smith; Photo via YouTube
Zachariah Smith; Photo via YouTube

He also went on to tease that his next single will be based on a railroad station outside of Amory, MS. 

“I basically wanted to give a little bit more of that country, western rock type vibe. So this next single is going to be really cool.”

Zachariah Smith is constantly adding new shows to his calendar. His next string of performances begins on Sept. 2, where he will appear at Johnson Central Highschool in Paintsville, KY. Then Smith will make his way to Syracuse, IN on Sept. 9, Memphis, TN on Sept. 21 and Fulton, MS on Sept. 23 for the Small Town Throw Down. 

Share on:

Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.