of Not Afraid
by Tracy Darlington
Stephanie Smith Interview
had given up music because my pride had blindsided me as a freshman
and I didn't want to have anything to do with the person I had become
in my pursuit of 'fame.'"
Stephanie Smith is a new Gotee artist who’s song “Superstar” hit the airwaves with a boom. She’s since released several other singles off her album Not Afraid, including the title cut. Stephanie’s music is uplifting and energetic.
I sat down with Stephanie and talked to her about her album, her coolest answered prayer, some tough situations she’s dealt with, and more.
Tracy: How did you know God was calling you to a career in music?
Stephanie: I remember a specific evening in my youth group just before my senior year of high school. One of our leaders spoke on the topic of "What is your passion?" It was the first time I realized that I really was passionate about music and singing, and as I laid it before the Lord, I sincerely felt released to pursue it for His glory!
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you first started in music?
It has to be all about Him. No man was wired to step on a stage and receive any glory- it is the Lords.
At 14 you first met your father with your mother and brother. What was that meeting like for you?
It was exciting and heartbreaking at the same time. Exciting because I had dreamt of that moment for years, and heartbreaking because it didn't go how I had anticipated at all. My father didn't know my mother, brother and I would be at his grandmother’s funeral, and out of nerves and surprise, he accidentally called me by the wrong name. He was flabbergasted just to lay eyes on his children for the first time, and had no time to prepare an introduction. But I had daydreamed about our first conversation for years and the whole situation left me a little shellshocked.
After that first meeting, which left you wounded, how did God bring you through the healing process?
He lead me to a great counselor who helped me understand where my dad was coming from and who helped me sort through some of my own emotions. He also directed me to music for the first time, and I started to pursue that as an outlet and passion.
Talk about the vital life lesson you had while you were on a trip to Africa.
I spent a semester in Africa when I was a Jr in college. I had given up music because my pride had blindsided me as a freshman and I didn't want to have anything to do with the person I had become in my pursuit of "fame." As a result, I did a 180 and changed my major- to undeclared. In that time I became really interest in the world outside of my college bubble, and thankfully my school (Greenville College) offered a semester abroad program that allowed me to explore the world while still studying. I was privileged enough to live, serve, and establish community in the country of Mozambique. I saw real need. One part of the semester entailed living in an impoverished rural town for 3 weeks while meeting with host families through a translator. I knew I would return to my comfortable dorm room in a matter of months when the semester was over, but I couldn't leave an experience like that and not be changed. I saw the world through an entirely different lens, and I could no longer claim ignorance. If anyone has wrestled with self-centeredness, I suggest you serve. It's not about you anymore when you serve.
Your song “Not Afraid” has a compelling redemption story behind it. Can you explain?
“Not Afraid” was the 2nd song recorded for the record. I really feel like I caught my momentum with that song. The Lord had made it pretty clear that this season was His. I would never have another 1st record and He had a specific plan for it so there was no room for distraction. That meant walking away from some things that had been distracting me, but there was no fear in that obedience because it was His leading. His plans are always better, He never leaves us out to dry- especially when we are following His lead! He is with us, we are not alone.
What’s special to you about your album Not Afraid?
It really is an autobiography of the last year or two of my life. I don't think I could have worked any harder with the tools and experience I had at that point in my life. It's the best 1st record I could make, and I will make the best second record I possibly can and I hope its better than the 1st.
What message do you hope people will come away with when they listen to your album?
I hope they are encouraged or inspired in their walk somehow. I hope they feel it’s authentic and relatable and it reflects Christ.
What’s your favorite song on Not Afraid?
“In My Eyes”.
Was there ever a time in your life where you really had to trust God?
Everyday. I am in desperate need of Him everyday.
What advice would you give to someone trying to reach their friends for Christ?
Love them at their point of need. Serve them in love, they will see the difference and be much more open to hearing the Good News you have if they see it lived out in your own life.
What’s the biggest obstacle in your life God’s helped you overcome?
What’s the coolest prayer God’s ever answered for you?
He provides everyday so it is really hard to think of the coolest, but one thing that is really special to me is my van. I knew it was time for me to buy a van, but I had no money for one. I started praying that He would a.) provide the van and b.) provide the funds. I found this van online and felt really good about it, but I wouldn't be able to look at it for nearly a month because I was on the road. The Lord gave me a peace that if it was the van for me, it wouldn't sell. I looked at the van a month later and loved it, but I still didn't know how I was going to pay for it. I called my mom slightly freaked out about the "grown up" purchase I was about to make and sought her advice. She told me that the Lord had given her some money and specifically told her to put it towards my ministry, under the condition that I had to ask. By avoiding inviting my mom into my decision, I almost missed out on a huge blessing out of stubbornness!
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
I need at least a quality half hour or 45 min with the Lord each day. I really feel out of whack when I miss a day or two. He keeps my heart at peace.
If you could say one thing to this generation what would you say?
Jesus is entirely relevant.
If Jesus were coming back tomorrow, how would you spend today?
I'd like to say just like any day, because we need to live in that urgency everyday- He will come like a thief in the night, and no man knows the day nor hour, so it may be tomorrow- but may our hearts be burdened for the people who don't know Truth yet.
If Jesus were not coming back in our lifetime, would you do anything differently?
No, He is the love of my life and the reason I do what I do is to direct people to Him.
If you weren’t doing music, what would you be doing?
I would probably be a hairdresser or a car salesman.
What’s the most memorable place you’ve ever played?
I opened for Toby for one date on the Winter Wonder Slam tour last year in Nashville, and it was a dream come true for me. I dreamt of that as a little girl, and for one evening, I lived my dream!
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
1.) I have an extra bone in my foot--it’s small, not freakish or anything.
2.) I love cars ;) when I had spare time, I would go around car lots and look at the different makes and models.
When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing?
I have some of the greatest friends in the whole world, so if I'm not recovering from the road by sleeping in, you can find me on a zip-line in my friend Brock's back yard, or at a bonfire, or eating chocolate, or riding on an impromptu hay-ride around the city square.
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Coffee (of course) Kashi cereal, rice milk and raspberries.
Three things always found in your refrigerator:
Coffee creamer, green olives, and carrot sticks.
You’re next in line at Starbucks. What are you ordering?
Tall coffee with room.
What’s currently in your CD player/iPod?
Is there anything else you’d like to say to TitleTrakk.com readers?
Follow hard after Jesus. Fall in love with Him more and more everyday!
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.