Country musician Canaan Smith returns to Williamsburg for benefit concert

Contact Reporterhbridges@vagazette.com

Country artist Canaan Smith recently started his "Sundown Ready" tour to 12 locations around the country and, after that, he'll jet overseas for his first United Kingdom tour.

But next Sunday, Smith stops in Williamsburg, a place he'll always call home.

"It's home to me. That's where I kissed my first girl and got my first speeding ticket," said Smith, 34, a Lafayette High School graduate. "All the coming-of-age stories that everybody experiences happened for me right there in that town."

This won't be his first time performing in Williamsburg since moving to Nashville, Tenn. 12 years ago, landing a record deal, producing an album and now platinum single, "Love You Like That." In fact, just last year Smith performed at Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre for the release of his first album, "Bronco."

Next week's concert is different.

Presented by Williamsburg Christian Academy — the school Smith and his siblings attended for several years — the concert benefits a scholarship established in memory of his brother, Nathaniel, who died in a car accident in 1994.

"It's an honor," Smith said. "It's definitely the one show I feel most attached to, so far. And that's because it means a lot to me."

All proceeds from the concert will replenish the Nathaniel Reid Smith Mission and Scholarship Fund, helping send high school students on mission trips organized through the school.

"It's just been used and depleted over the years," said Suzanne Maggio, the academy's external marketing and development coordinator.

Smith remembers when Nathaniel returned from his first mission trip.

"He came back from Mexico a changed person, and he saw the world in a different way when he came back," he said. "I would hope that (the scholarship fund) would impact other kids in the same way."

Smith has always loved and listened to music. His dad sang in a rock band, and Smith later formed a band with two friends, playing together through high school.

He fell in love with learning to play songs, first, then learning to write his own. Even more, Smith fell in love with storytelling through music, a quality that drew him to the country genre.

"I think that stories connect people," Smith said.

"When I was personally learning to play guitar, it was sort of out of a coping method," he said, speaking about the loss of his brother. "I picked up a guitar to find some peace in it all. And so just like what music did for me, I feel like songs can do for other people on a broad level."

Smith said he's been in the studio, and he'll play some new music at the concert, as well as familiar covers and songs from "Bronco."

With a light show and a full band, Smith promises a high-energy show full of hands-in-the-air moments and intimate moments, too.

"What matters at the end of the day is that I've been true to myself musically, first and foremost, and then also in the process find a way for a lot of people to relate to and appreciate what I do," he said.

Bridges can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342.

Want to go?

Doors open at 1:30 p.m., Oct. 23, at Lake Matoaka Amphitheatre, 121 Ukrop Way. Opening act starts at 3:30 p.m. and Canaan Smith plays at 5 p.m.

Visit canaan-smith.williamsburgchristian.org for more information and to purchase tickets. A flash sale for tickets is currently available.

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