Hazel Smith, a longtime member of Nashville's music community, is a writer, producer and commentator on country music.
She began her career at a momentous time in the music's history as the office manager and public relations representative of Tompall Glaser's studio and business at 19th Avenue South on Nashville's Music Row. Glaser Sound Studio was the headquarters of country music's Outlaw movement, a name Smith coined in the early '70s to describe the anti-establishment artistic stance of musicians like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. During this time, she began writing a column for Country Music magazine, an endeavor she continued until the magazine's demise in 2003.
In 1977, Smith joined the Dr. Hook organization as director of operations, working closely with the group and other acts, including Lou Rawls and the late Shel Silverstein. There she gained an extensive knowledge of the music publishing business that led to her next position as Nashville A&R licensee for K-tel Records of Minneapolis. She assembled and produced compilation albums for K-tel through 1990 when she left the company to pursue independent projects.
Most recently, Smith produced the CD I've Always Been Crazy: A Tribute to Waylon Jennings for RCA Records. She has also written a successful cookbook, Hazel's Hot Dish: Cookin' With Country Stars, that led to invitations for multiple guest appearances on television, notably Emeril Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show. For the past eight years, she has reported country music news on the air from Nashville for WFMS radio in Indianapolis. In 1999, Smith was honored with the Country Music Association's prestigious Media Achievement Award. Her new column, CMT Hot Dish With Hazel Smith, was launched in July 2004 at CMT.com.
Throughout her career, the native of Caswell County, N.C., has remained close to the country music world. Few can match her knowledge of its repertoire and performers, many of whom have become personal friends. Someone once said that if the Ryman Auditorium is the mother church of country music, then surely Smith must be its mother hen. She guards it with her life.