Photo Gallery | Former full-time auditor turned emerging musician celebrates new album
Six years ago Myla Smith made a decision that would frighten most young people starting a career: to keep a steady job or pursue life-long aspirations.
After deciding working at a CPA firm was not the right fit, the Memphis pop-folk singer, songwriter dropped counting the books to pick up a guitar full time. Music critics now call Smith an emerging artist. Her label Shake Rag records released her anticipated fourth album, Hiding Places, Tuesday.
"I worked hard to get a good job out of school. [The CPA firm] was supposed to be the big payoff, but it wasn't for me, by actually doing [the job] I felt more the urge to do something different," said Smith recalling her past debate whether to stay in at the firm or try a music career. "I have done music forever. It's always something I gravitated toward with a big passion."
The name of Smith's label reflects her childhood town Shake Rag, northwest of Millington, where she grew up wearing out fisher price recorders with her early compositions.
Smith received a secure job as a financial statement auditor after graduating the University of Memphis with a 4.0. But once she started, a compelling and escalating craving for music inspired her to write new songs and record.
"I had this idea that when you get to be a grown up, you have to be more responsible ... I didn't ever plan on dropping music all together," said Smith.
Her first album took nearly two years to finish as she worked 60 hours at the firm. Smith left her position in 2007 to focus on music, and she works constantly to create a unique sound to add to the Memphis music scene.
Smith's music does not necessarily reflect Memphis blues or soul. Although, she says it is part of her commitment as a local musician is to be on the path of Memphis music in the future.
"Part of [the musicians'] duty if [the city] has a cool music history ... Why not try and continue? Take that and make other people inspired. Those people [30, 40 years ago] inspire people now. I hope I can inspire people too," said Smith.
As someone who has hit a number one spot on national charts on Amazon, Smith still maintains the spirit of sharing Memphis with her audience.
Recently, a music video featuring a song from Smith's latest album was set in a Jack Pirtle's Chicken, a Memphis fast-food chain. A Memphis film company directed the video and cast Smith as an employee skating around the restaurant. A dance party breaks out among the patrons during the song. Smith and the film crew made sure to cast local dance styles including Memphis jookin and salsa dancing from a Minglewood Hall studio.
"I love the fact it's local," said Smith. "It was a lot of fun. Employees appeared in the video. The general manager, who was there for I think 30 years, which people rarely stay in one place [that long], she said her grand kids would never believe this."
The video only took one Saturday night to shoot, but Smith's albums demonstrates work that spans over a much longer time. You can hear parts of it yourself this Friday at the release show at the 1884 Lounge. To order Smith's latest album, click here.
Action News 5's Pam McKelvy and Jarvis Greer spoke to Smith in an interview about the music video; click here to watch it.
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