Photography courtesy of NPG Public Relations

In the 1998 Lake Highlands High School senior show, four students sang “Seven Bridges Road.” One of them, Granger Smith, became a BMI award-winning country music singer and songwriter who’s toured across the world, performed on “The Bachelorette” and created a career right here in Texas. After attending Texas A&M University and a stint writing music in Tennessee, he came back home. “My advice is stay in your hometown and build your following as much as you can wherever you are,” Granger says.

How did you get started in music? I first started playing guitar in ninth grade. I had a couple of friends that played guitar, and I saw that it was pretty awesome and that girls liked it. I had a guitar in my closet from my grandmother, who never played it. I remember going home one day and deciding I was going try. I taught myself with the little book inside the case that showed you where to put your fingers to make chords. It came easily to me.

Favorite memory of Lake Highlands: Playing in Texas Stadium for the playoffs, which we did all three years I was in varsity football. I enjoyed seeing the pride and the culture of Lake Highlands.

How did you get off the ground returning to Texas? It was all about playing live shows because in Nashville, it was all writing. I didn’t have anything when I moved back, music-wise. I started by approaching a venue in College Station. I asked if I could start a Thursday open mic night and host it as long as I could play some of my own songs in between other people playing. I slowly built a band, and we branched off, playing in other places on Fridays and Saturdays.

What was it like to have a No. 1 song, “Dirt Road Driveway?” All of the albums before that were not as successful and to see something recognized on a national level was the biggest thing that ever happened.

Highlight of your career: Definitely one thing that comes to mind is when we did three tours in Iraq. They impacted my performing, writing and philanthropy work. I realized music has the power to really affect people, emotionally and spiritually. We would go around and play in small forward operating bases, and every day was different. We could be playing about two shows a day. Some days it would be a gymnasium packed with people. Some days, it would be on a little strip of gravel. People would sit on top of tanks and watch.

Most memorable moment on stage: I fell off the stage in New Jersey, broke two ribs and punctured a lung with one of the ribs that broke. I got back on the stage and started singing. I didn’t have very much breath because of the punctured lung. I could feel crunching on the ribs and knew something was wrong. I played a few more songs, went to the emergency room and started what became about six weeks  of rehab. It was adrenaline that was mixed with embarrassment.

Performing on “The Bachelorette”: We did that in Park City, Utah. We flew out there and played a show to a small crowd in a bar, which was prepared to be on the show. We had to wait for the couple to walk from the dinner date into the bar, as if, “Oh look who’s randomly playing here.” The idea of it was way more awkward than the actual execution of it. We played the song two or three times from different angles, and they filmed it. But it was a really neat experience.

His brother, Tyler, is on the newest season: He’s also my manager, so having my manager and my brother gone during an album release was stressful. At the same time, we’re all just really glad to see him because it’s the first time in our working relationship that the spotlight was on him and not me.

His new album “Country Things Vol. 1”: It’s my first album that is separated into two volumes. The volumes are coming out on different dates because there were 16 songs. It’s a little bit too much music to come out at once. About half of it was written before COVID, and the rest was written when we were shut down and not touring at all.

Must-have tool for writing music: It used to be my guitar. But with our new addiction to phones, I get a lot of a song done without a guitar, just with my phone recorder and humming a melody.  I sing words on top of it and then add in the lyrics right there on my phone.