Cannon Falls native Caitlyn Smith showed her incredible talent in a benefit concert Saturday night for the Shepherd Center of the Cannon Valley.

I'm not a professional music critic, but you don't need to be one to know the vocals Smith put on display were not abilities just anyone can do. She doesn't just sing the songs, but uses her voice as an instrument to enhance the story she wants to tell.

I really enjoyed her visits with the audience before pieces by telling the story behind writing the song. For example, she and her husband, Rollie Gaalswyk, had their first child in August and they wrote a song together called "Cheap Date." It's a very special song I'm sure for the couple and relatable for all the new moms and dads in the audience.

Her first No. 1 hit record was not a country song but a pop record by Cassadee Pope, "Wasting All These Tears." She co-wrote that song with her husband also. It's a breakup song.

She told the large audience at the Cannon Falls HIgh School Auditorium on Saturday night how they wrote the song while enjoying a bottle of wine together.

Other recording artists have chosen her songs to sing. Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton  were nominated for a Grammy with "You Can't Make Old Friends." Lady Antebellum recorded "747." Rascal Flatts had "Let it Hurt." And most recently Garth Brooks sang "Tacoma."

Smith told the audience how she brought up Google maps when she was collaborating on a song with Bob Dipiero for the first time and plugged in the address of his office and up popped Tacoma, Washington. Light bulb moment arrives as she says Tacoma is a cool word and would make a great song title and the rest, as they say, is history.

Smith said she loves the song and put it on her new album "Starfire" even though Garth Brooks phoned her and asked if he could record the song and of course, "You can't say no to Garth Brooks."

Another Minnesota native, Laura Nicholson, opened for Smith on Saturday night. The Eagan native showed her vocal talent also and one of the more enjoyable songs of the night was a duet they performed.

There have been some outstanding musical artists come out of Minnesota over the years: Prince, Bob Dylan, The Andrews Sisters, just to name a few.

I have a feeling Smith will be the next superstar and Nicholson may soon follow and those of us at Cannon Falls High School Auditorium can say we saw them Thanksgiving weekend 2016.





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