The late Kate Smith was a famous alto best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America," but this story isn't about Kate Smith.
This story is about Kade Smith, a Sandy native and current University of Utah student who doesn't believe that Rod Stewart, Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum should have all the fun. Like those artists, the 24-year-old pop singer released a holiday album this season. "A Merry Christmas from Me" will drop Nov. 27 on iTunes and Amazon.
"The team surrounding this project is absolutely incredible," Smith said. "Richard Parkinson, who also produced David Archuleta's 'Christmas from the Heart' album, has done phenomenal work on these songs. It's a different sound, but I know that people are going to like it."
Smith has another connection to Elder Archuleta. They share a vocal coach, Dean Kaelin, who has a studio in Holladay and was formerly an associate professor of music at Westminster College.
Smith answered the Tribune's questions about his inspirations, his day job and why we shouldn't confuse him with Kate Smith.
Do you have a day job?
I am a geek at heart. I'm the guy waiting outside the Apple Store when a new product is released. If you've ever called Apple with a problem, then it's possible I've helped you fix your Mac.
How did you develop your voice?
I have always been musical. My mom started me on the piano and other instruments when I was very young. Singing didn't come until much later, probably when I was about 15. My neighbor came to my house looking for my older brother. (Also an incredible singer.) Neither of us knew I could sing, but she asked me to sing for her. When she heard me, she was shocked. She gave me a solo in church and people started asking me to sing all the time. I then started voice lessons and decided to keep going. That was a defining moment for me and what ultimately pushed me to become a singer. I've been studying with Dean Kaelin for almost two years now. He has helped to develop my sound, range, tone, and has taught me a lot about the music business.
What inspires you, and what doesn't inspire you?
Moments are what inspire me. Songs that can capture a feeling or emotion in the instant that it is happening. It is almost a very potent dose of life and can make you feel something you haven't felt before. What doesn't inspire me? I can't say that anything doesn't inspire me, because everything has a reaction attached to it. There are things I'd rather not let inspire me, but that's how I have become who I am.
How has Utah affected you as a singer?
I've lived and traveled around the U.S. performing and for auditions. Directors and voice coaches have always said you won't find better training than in Utah. The opportunity to perform, audition, get in front of a crowd and not being as competitive as L.A. or New York City helps to nurture talent. The talent pool here isn't as big as L.A., but it is much more concentrated with talented people. The arts tend to be quite apparent in our culture, and that is why I ultimately came back to Utah. I wanted to get in touch with my roots and work on music at my own pace. Utah has really taught me how to be outgoing. People here are very friendly, and as I've lived in other places, people [there] think it's odd that I wave, say "Hello" to strangers or even thank someone for holding the door. From the time I was little, that is what I was taught you were supposed to do. Utahns tend to have that edge of being friendly and approachable. I think being from Utah has made me a better man.
Have you ever had déjà, déjà, déjà, déjà vu?
Haven't I done this interview before? I have probably practiced it at least 15 times in the shower. Seriously, I feel like I have déjà vu all the time. I have dreams that seem real, and then they actually happen. It's an odd thing. This EP has been a dream of mine, but does not feel like déjà vu. I can't even tell you how big of a surprise this has all been to me and how grateful I am for the journey.
What is the funniest musical joke you've ever heard?
I really get a kick out of music theory humor. Shirts that have a fermata on them and say "Hold Me." In high school I would wear a shirt that read "I Can't I Have Rehearsal." That way my friends wouldn't ask me to hang out with them.
Has anyone ever called you Kate Smith?
Not as many times as I've been called Katie. It was a bit rough when I was younger, because on the first day of school my teachers always pronounced it Katie, then for the rest of the day kids teased me about it. I've grown into my name and learned to love it. It's unique and people always remember it. That's why when the album was released, you'll just see Kade instead of my full name.
Are there any famous people in your family tree?
Not that I'm aware of, but I am considering a subscription to Ancestry.com for Christmas. Maybe I'll make that my next project.
For more information about Utah pop singer Kade Smith, visit www.iamkade.com and @iamkade on Twitter.