Nate Smith: The Tragedy That Gave Him Purpose
Country Music newcomer Nate Smith, who scored his first number-one song, “Whiskey On You,” late last year, is a native of Paradise, California. Yes, that Paradise that in 2018 endured wildfires that drove residents from their homes.
We talked with Nate recently, and he told us about that fateful day when the fire burned down 19,000 buildings and killed 85 people in Paradise. He said, “There is a fire map online, and you can see where the fire basically, where it hit at certain times of the day. I had a doctor’s appointment at 8:30 in the morning, and I worked the night shift at the hospital, so normally I would be sleeping in to 2 p.m. or whatever because I worked 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.”
Smith continued, “This morning, I had to be up for my doctor’s appointment, so I had to be out of there. If I would have been there another two hours, I wouldn’t be here. It was a weird feeling because I think 80-something people died in that fire, and I definitely would have been one of them.”
Nate told us that the fire inspired him to take a chance on his dreams and move to Nashville. He said, “I just feel like I have a second chance at life. That’s a big part of it for me. Also, I wrote a song for Paradise that hit the community in a really amazing way, and I ended up giving all that money to a single mom; it wasn’t a lot, but it was something to help her move out with her kids and start over.”
He added, “What it really did was it gave me a real reason for why I want to make music. I feel like a lot of people want to make music to be cool, or they want to make it because it’s fun or whatever. But I think, personally, we all have our own journeys, and we all have our own purpose for why. You have to find a reason why you want to do this that’s bigger than yourself. ‘What can I do to affect people in a positive way with what I do?’ Once I figured that out, that’s what changed everything for me.”
Smith concluded, “It wasn’t about me being cool and getting a record deal and hearing my song on the radio, those things are insane, and I’m so grateful, but it’s really about Joe who DMs me and says ‘Your song is getting me through a divorce.’ That’s what the fire really did for me.”