Granger Smith — one of country music's fastest-rising stars — made his Opry debut in November, gracing the historic Ryman Auditorium stage with his tune "Backroad Song." The artist walked on stage with the band having already begun the intro, plugged in his acoustic, greeted the audience and set into the personal tune from his new record.

Smith’s charm shines as he strums along on the breezy song, a tribute to a laid-back, relaxing drive down a country road. He says the performance was particularly special to him, as his grandmother was able to attend. He credits her with his love for music.

“She knew everybody and acted like they were her friends. Like Bill Anderson and Connie Smith, John Conley — she would just grab their hand and talk, whisper in their ear about a song or a hit that they had in 1973,” Smith told us of the action backstage when we sat down with him for our January cover story. "They just ate it up. I hope that I’ll be able to play the Opry many times in my career, but I’ll always remember that first one when she was there."

"Backroad Song" is close to Smith’s heart, as he says it’s an accurate depiction of himself, like the rest of his upcoming new record.

“The goal was that you can listen to [the album] and walk away and say you know who this guy is now,” Smith says. “‘Backroad Song’ tells that story. So if you like the song, then you can really get to know who I am from the album.”

The record — called Remington and due out March 4 — will be Smith's first release with Broken Bow Music Group’s Wheelhouse Records, with whom he signed on as their flagship artist. Smith is enthusiastic, to say the least.

“I’m really excited about this album,” he says. “This one has some of the deepest Granger stuff, the most stuff that, thinking about it, makes me want to cry. I’m not a crier.”

“I look at my albums as little diaries of my life. This new album is definitely a diary,” he adds.

His performance at the Opry was just one of the many shows Smith played last year around the country, featuring also his trusty alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr. — a hilarious redneck personality he’s honed into a character all his own.

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