Over the course of his groundbreaking career, Granger Smith has amassed a massive and rabid audience now known as "Yee Yee Nation" built through heavy touring and grassroots fan engagement. He now has a social media following exceeding 12 million along with more than one billion online video views. Smith broke onto the national scene with Remington, an album that garnered him the No. 1 smash "Backroad Song." Smith was also awarded a BMI Country Award for writing, producing, publishing and performing "Backroad Song" and followed it with the Top Five hit "If The Boot Fits." “Backroad Song” was one of the Top 10 Most Played Country singles of 2016 according to Mediabase and has been certified RIAA PLATINUM. His album When The Good Guys Win spawned the hit “Happens Like That” that has been certified RIAA GOLD. Not only has Granger stacked major accolades as an artist, but he also released his first-ever book If You’re City, If You’re Country, which immediately hit No. 1 on Amazon best-selling lists. Known as an artist but also for his alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr., his family’s YouTube series “The Smiths” and his iconic outdoor apparel company, Yee Yee Apparel, Smith is a jack of all trades. Additionally, Granger and his wife Amber Smith started The River Kelly Fund to bring awareness and invest in children in need, arts and education, wildlife preservation, military, veteran and first responder assistance, donor affiliations, and many more organizations in honor of their son River Kelly Smith. Taking all of these experiences and channeling them into good, Smith released his 10th studio album called Country Things, which ultimately showcases the man, the father, the performer and bona fide artist Smith has become. Now, with over 1.3 billion on-demand streams, Granger just made his acting debut in the Pureflix film Moonrise, available to stream now, and includes music from his just-released new album of the same name. Produced by Granger with John Marlin, every song on the new record is featured in the movie and is available now HERE.
Granger Smith didn’t have acting aspirations when his WME booking agent sent him a movie script. He had never acted before, but he felt a deep connection to the title character: a country singer with three kids who loses his wife in a tragic accident and the struggle to find redemption with his family and music.
“I loved the script more than I loved the idea of me being an actor,” said Granger, who read the treatment in one sitting on his front porch. “But I wanted to do my best to bring this guy to life. I am a lot of that guy and I felt a little of my dad in him, too. In the story he is a man of not so many words, but when he said something it mattered. I know people like that and I knew this was something creatively I wanted to tackle.”
Attracted to the character – an under-pressure single dad and rancher – Granger asked to hear the songs in the “Moonrise” script especially the moving movie closer “Forever Forward.” He was surprised to learn it didn’t exist.
“The director said, ‘There is no song yet, but we are going to find it.’ And I said, ‘Excuse me?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I have a title and the movie is based on it, but we haven’t found it yet,” Granger recalled. “What I was thinking to myself was what you are asking for is actually impossible, so I said, ‘Why don’t I try to write it.”
Clearly having a songwriting country artist on set had its advantages but it wasn’t something the movie executives considered when they were casting. “They thought it would be easier to get a country singer to act than it would be to get an actor to pretend to be a country singer because there were performances,” Granger chuckled.
Driven by personal experience, familial inspiration and a commitment to anyone who overcomes life’s setbacks, Granger emersed himself in the character and started writing the music that would support the narrative and eventually become his next album Moonrise, which will be released Nov. 18 by BBR Music Group.
He wrote “Forever Forward” on New Year’s Eve and had finished all 12 tracks by March 1, 2022. He dipped into his catalog for nuggets that became fully conceptualized songs. Inspiration was everywhere.
“After I said yes and started diving into it, I had no idea I needed to actually become that character,” Granger offered. “I had to think like him. Not just read the script and memorize it but believe it. I had to feel it and say it in a way that sounded like it was created from my soul. That took an emotional toll on me and an effort than I couldn’t ever have imagined. There were days on set, I thought I was Will Brown.”
Granger has released 10 studio albums, one live record and two EPs, but this record is a departure from anything he has done before. Each cut is present in the movie, but the songs are solidly Granger Smith.
“It’s scary because you think in your insecure brain, ‘Maybe I’m wrong about all of this,’” Granger said. “The one thing I do know is that when I started this project I thought, ‘I’m going to make songs for Will Brown.’ But as I was writing and recording and singing, I quickly realized you can’t do anything that doesn’t sound like Granger. I had to relent to that idea that I can’t make anything that doesn’t sound like me, but that’s OK.”
Mining a character in a three-minute song was very different from staying in character for the duration of a film. “I can get through a song in three minutes and feel that emotion lyrically with a song, but in three minutes I’m on to the next one if I am playing a show,” he said. “And we take this roller coaster of happy, fun, sad, heartache, love and all back-to-back-to-back. But the movie was consistently one emotion.”
Granger first broke onto the national scene with Remington, an album that scored his first No. 1
“Backroad Song.” He was awarded a BMI Country Award for writing, producing, publishing and performing the song. It was one of the Top 10 Most Played Country singles of 2016 according to Mediabase and certified Platinum by the RIAA. He followed with a Top 5 hit “If The Boot Fits.”
Granger said writing the music on his bus during the filming was easier than creating songs in a traditional Nashville writers’ room.
“Between takes I’d have four or five hours on the bus, I had the guitar and I would think about the scene. I’m on set, dressed as the character and looking out the window at the guy’s house. It wasn’t that hard,” Granger explained. “Imagine if Nashville songwriters were transported to the scene of the song they were writing. It would be so much easier.”
His current favorite track on the record is “Damn Guitar,” which had an inauspicious start.
“I had started that by myself a few years ago and it never had a home until I met this character,” offered Granger. “I thought, ‘This is his song’ and it is really great when that happens. The song was sitting there collecting dust and didn’t have a purpose and all along it was meant for him.”
Granger was eventually named musical supervisor for the film collaborating with Hollywood composer John Coda on the score.
A multidimensional communicator, Smith has his hands in numerous projects including hosting iHeartRadio’s After Midnite, his own podcast, and a popular weekly YouTube series with his family called “The Smiths.” He created the documentary “They Were There: A Hero’s Documentary” and wrote a No. 1 book, “If You’re City, If You’re Country.” In 2020, he received the CMT Award for Quarantine Video of the Year and has an outdoor lifestyle brand Yee Yee Apparel.
Granger, who has banked more than 1 billion on-demand streams with more than 12 million followers on social media, will have to wait for Moonrise to come out in November and for the movie to be released by PureFlix on Dec. 15 to see how his fans will respond.
“My biggest fans, the ones that have followed me for years and been to 100 shows, what will those people think of me as this guy in a cowboy hat, a rough Texas rancher?” Granger pondered. “Are they going to believe it or think I should never act again.”
He hopes what they experience with Moonrise and the movie is the power of music.
“There is something a song can say that human words can’t in a conversation,” he said. “The mystery of that we will never know on this earth, why that truly is and why we have the gift of music. But as creators of music, we need to understand that it doesn’t come from us, we just pass it on and we have a big responsibility as musicians to channel it and realize how it effects people: it enhances their emotions, it makes them remember things they didn’t think they could remember and forget things they don’t want to think about. And we can do that three minutes at a time.”