Conner Smith Recalls First Meeting Luke Bryan, Salutes Mentorship Of Thomas Rhett

These country artists have both played an impactful role in Smith’s career.


Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

May 24, 2023


5:18 am

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Luke Bryan; Photo by Andrew Wendowski, Conner Smith; Photo by Cooper Smith, Thomas Rhett; Photo by Andrew Wendowski

Conner Smith was immersed in the music business at an early age. From the start of his career to the current chapter, he has encountered several country superstars who have helped guide him through the grueling industry.

One of those role models was Luke Bryan, who Smith is slated to join on the road this summer in support of his Country On Tour. The “I Hate Alabama” singer signed his first publishing deal with Ashley Gorley’s Tape Room Music at 16 years old. Luckily, he had Bryan there to share his wisdom and ensure he got started on the right path. 

Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson
Conner Smith; Photo by Luke Hutcherson

While chatting with Country Now, Smith revealed that his relationship with the “One Margarita” singer stems from his days of playing baseball with Bryan’s adopted nephew, Til. 

“Last time I saw Luke Bryan, I was 16,” he shared. “I was in the on-deck circle at a baseball game and Til was pitching, I was catching at that game. I was about to sign my management and publishing deal and Luke comes and taps on the bench and goes, ‘hey, where’s your contract at?’ He was like, ‘I need to read through your contract to make sure you’re doing good.’ My mom had it in the car, oddly enough, and he literally sat there on the sideline of this baseball game and read through my whole contract. He called me after for about an hour and told me everything I need to know at 16 years old.”

Following Bryan’s run in Vegas, the two artists will get the chance to reunite after all these years. The upcoming tour kicks off on June 15 in Syracuse, New York, and will visit 36 cities across the U.S. with stops in major markets like Philadelphia, Denver, Nashville, Orlando, Charlotte, Raleigh, and more.

“He’s just such a legendary artist to get to go on tour with. Obviously, he was such a soundtrack to my growing up so I’m super excited,” Smith added.

Another notable presence that has made a huge difference in his life and career is Thomas Rhett. In 2022, Smith acted as an opener on Thomas Rhett’s Bring The Bar To You Tour, which also featured special guest Parker McCollum. 

Having that time to build a relationship with Rhett and learn from his experience was a career-changing opportunity for the budding artist. 

“Thomas, especially just being the great human being that he is and just been like a brother, father figure, whatever you want to call it, I’ve learned so much. You know, I really believe that if ever I win Entertainer of the Year one day, he’ll be one of the first people I thank,” Smith said of the “Life Changes” singer. 

Smith recently wrapped his first-ever headlining IF I WENT TO COLLEGE 2023 Tour and during the opening night of the trek, he made sure to also include a cover of both Bryan’s “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and Rhett’s “Get Me Some of That,” in his set. In doing so, Smith tipped his hat to each of them for their mentorship throughout different phases of his career. 

“He is such an intentional person that has poured so much into me really on a human level of just like understanding how to mentally prepare your mind and your heart to kind of step into what we step into as artist, which is a crazy world,” he said of Rhett.

Conner Smith, Thomas Rhett; Photo Courtesy Thomas Rhett, Facebook
Conner Smith, Thomas Rhett; Photo Courtesy Thomas Rhett, Facebook

Earlier this year, the Tennessee native added to his catalog with the release of his hard-hitting love song, “Creek Will Rise.” The new single, which he claims to be a career-changing track, was co-penned by Smith alongside Chris LaCorte, Chase McGill and Parker Welling. The narrative boasts a more mature look into Smith’s songwriting skills as he depicts an intimate night with his love interest after getting stuck in the rain together.

“I have never been more confident the song than I am in this one,” he told Country Now. “It’s one of those songs that I really think will turn the chapter on my career. I feel like the first year of my music was really true to where I was at in life, and I think we’re gonna turn a page on that and kind of grow it up a little bit and this song’s a perfect song to do it.”

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In addition to his upcoming dates with Luke Bryan, Conner Smith will also join Cole Swindell on select dates of his Twelve tour. For a complete list of Smith’s upcoming tour dates, click HERE.

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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.