There is a reason why country/pop singer, songwriter and producer Alina Smith has been selected as one of the "20 Artists to Watch" by the Herald Examiner magazine. Championed by many of Music City's greats, including the Grammy-winning artist Lari White and hit songwriters Danny Myrick and James Otto, Alina's music has been described as "unique", "special" and "very fresh".
One might say Alina's cap is already filled with feathers: she has amassed millions of music plays online, won first place in the Los Angeles "Battle of the Bands" on KTLA-TV, as well as many other honors (HMM Awards, Great American Song Contest, Temecula Music Fest, Johnny Mercer Foundation). She sang for millions of people on CC-TV in Beijing, China and has had her songs covered by major artists in Japan. Yet, Alina feels as though she is just getting started. "I think I'll always have room to grow. Luckily, I have some amazing mentors!"
A true country girl, Alina was born in a small village outside of St. Petersburg, Russia after the fall of the Soviet iron curtain. Her early days were spent singing and dancing in the woods next to her parents' house. "I would pick up a twig and sing into it, as if it were a microphone. My audience were crickets and frogs, and they would often sing along." Her mother, a foreign language teacher, spoke English to Alina from babyhood. She also played a lot of American music around the house. "My favorites were Hank Williams and Dolly Parton, although I also really loved Aretha Franklin and Donny Hathaway," recounts Alina.
By the time she was six, Alina taught herself to play piano and was supporting her family with music. She would soon join an internationally-known singing group called "Aurora", which played fifty plus shows a year in Europe. "I remember performing 'I will always love you' on German TV," says Alina. "I was so little, but I had this big ol' voice - everybody was really surprised!"
The youngest star of "Aurora", Alina was also the interpreter for the group. While touring abroad, she would often spend time with Americans, forming a deep connection to the US culture. When a relative of her mother's, who lived in Las Vegas, invited Alina to come over and pursue a music career in the States, her parents agreed to let her go. "My mom put a Bible under my pillow the night before I left, to bless my journey," she recalls, "She knew I'd have better opportunities in America."
While in Las Vegas, Alina continued making a living with live performances, although her artistic focus turned to songwriting. A precocious lyricist, she did a lot of experimentation, penning dozens of love songs, based on classic novels and folklore tales. "I was too young to have a boyfriend, so I didn't have a lot of romantic experiences to write about," she recalls with a smile. "I'd take stories from books, fairy tales etc. and turn them into songs." In the years to come, Alina would move to NYC, then to Los Angeles, writing with the top local talent and playing hundreds of shows at clubs, such as Hotel Cafe, Bitter End, Rockwood Music Hall and The Mint.
Now, having recently relocated to Nashville, Alina is co-writing with the likes of Meghan Linsey (artist with the Big Machine label group), Trey Bruce (Trace Adkins, Faith Hill), Kris Bergsnes (Winona Judd, Tim McGraw), Phil Barton (Lee Brice, Paul Cowderoy) and other great country songwriters. She has also started a boutique recording studio and has been producing music for herself, as well as other artists. Having just completed a demo EP, she is seeking a label home for her new songs. Bet thou not against her!