What’s Next For ‘American Idol’ Standout Zachariah Smith?

The singer/songwriter has great ambitions for his budding music career.

By

Madeleine O’Connell

| Posted on

July 13, 2023

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Zachariah Smith; Photo Courtesy ABC/Eric McCandless

Before landing a spot among the Top 5 contestants on American Idol, Zachariah 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. 

As he continues to navigate this new chapter, the rising singer/songwriter sat down with Country Now to discuss what life looks like post-American Idol

Despite his growing stardom, Smith revealed that his roots still find a way to keep him humble. He worked at Bill’s Hamburgers in Amory, MS for about a year before taking the leap and auditioning for the singing competition show. 

Zachariah Smith; Photo by ABC, American Idol
Zachariah Smith; Photo by ABC, American Idol

“Basically, I was working it and I was fine doing it, but it’s of course not what I wanted to do. It wasn’t ideal,” he explained. 

From time to time, Smith still finds himself returning to this establishment to grab a bit to eat and sometimes, he even jumps in to help when an extra set of hands is needed. 

“I walked in the other day to get a burger, and it’s actually kind of a funny story because when I walked in, you couldn’t even get through the door because there were so many people inside the building. So they were really, really behind,” he shared. “I walked in and customers actually started asking me to get behind the grill and help. So I actually stayed there for about an hour cooking burgers. Then once I got about 40 of ’em stacked for them to give out, then I was done.”

Smith also shared that his wife was put in charge of running the restaurant for nearly 20 years, however, the pair initially met through church. 

“Her dad is a preacher outside of Nashville,” he began. “I had been going back and forth to this church singing and I was already good family, friends, and so we basically already knew each other and we eventually just started talking and we’ve been together ever since.”

The lovebirds have three children in their care, Timber, 10, Adelyn, 8, and Adelyn, 6. So on top of putting in the hours to establish himself as an artist, Smith has also had to learn to balance work and family. 

“It’s not easy. There’s days where I feel like I could pull my hair out, just scream,” Smith told Country Now honestly. “But that’s the joy of being a parent. And eventually, you’ll wish someday that you had those moments back with your family.”

Zachariah Smith and Family; Photo Courtesy ABC/Eric McCandless
Zachariah Smith and Family; Photo Courtesy ABC/Eric McCandless

Although it may be a challenge to keep everything afloat, Smith has made it clear that he makes an effort to involve the kids “as much as I can” because they appear to be in full support of his career change. 

“If they want to come on the road with me, I will let them come on the road. I’ll pack up their suitcases, throw ’em in the vehicle, and we’re out. So I just like to keep my family involved. I’m a family guy.”

He continued, “They absolutely love it. They eat up all the attention that they can get, but yeah, they think it’s pretty cool. And I’m happy for them.”

Prior to jumping head-on into music on American Idol, Zachariah Smith had dipped his toes into the realm of songwriting but hadn’t pursued it as regularly as he does now. His time on the show seems to have sparked more inspiration than ever before, leading him to express his creativity and emotions through his songs. 

While he revealed that moving to Nashville is in the plans for the future, he intends to stay in Mississippi for the time being. This means that he has had to find other ways to collaborate with Nashville songwriters from a distance. 

“I’ve got a couple of guys right now that I’m working on another song with, and they’re based outside of Nashville. So I get a couple people that reach out and ask if we could come up with something. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it just doesn’t. I like to be the owner of my music, and so really what it is, is I like to bring my creativity out through my words and through my music playing. So I try to give as much of me as possible, if that makes sense.”

Zachariah Smith; ABC/Eric McCandless
Zachariah Smith; ABC/Eric McCandless

So far, Smith 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 when in reality, he wanted 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.”

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Staying true to himself following the show, Smith has decided to explore his genre-bending passions and create a project that showcases a bit of both country and rock. 

“I like to add my side of things to it. I like to add my spice. Everybody likes their steaks differently, and I just add a little bit more seasoning to mine,” he explained before adding, “with that being said, I do the same with music and I like to always keep it spiced up. I like to keep my viewers and my listeners engaged in the music. And so I think for them, they can expect some fun music to sing along to. It’s American folk music, rock and roll, classic, whatever you want to call it. I mean, I’ll just let the fans decide, but either way, you can expect to have my name stamped all over it.”

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.”

Aside from making new music the way that best suits him, Zachariah Smith is determined to grow his fanbase to heights he never thought would have been possible before Idol

“I want give people music that they want to listen to, I want to share my stories. I want to share my life. I want to share my experiences throughout my time on Earth through my music. And every time that my listeners and my fans listen to my music, I just want them to crank it up, roll down the windows, fly down the highway, do whatever you want. I don’t care. But I really want to achieve a bigger fan base. And I think the best way to go about that s to release new music. And so I just hope to release a lot of cool music,” he said in conclusion.”

The 19-year-old recently made his way to Nashville where he made a surprise appearance at the Foreigner concert to sing in front of around 10,000 people. He is next scheduled to appear in his hometown at Wabash County Fair. On July 17, he will take the stage in front of an excited crowd who sold out the tickets within two hours of the show being announced.  

“You can’t really base your success off of your hometown because there’s going to be more supporters in your hometown than anywhere else. So we were really happy that we sold out within two hours, but it’s not always going to be like that, but it’s pretty cool when it happens.” 

Then in the fall, Smith will perform on Sept. 9 in Indiana and in Fulton, MS on Sept. 22-24 for the Small Town Throw Down. 

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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.