Caroline Smith is a soul woman; the Minneapolis-based singer just hasn't taken the time to show that side of herself to the world.
But she has on "Half About Being a Woman," her third album and a marked change from the more rock-flavored sound of the two previous albums Smith recorded with her band the Good Night Sleeps.
"I needed to find the confidence in myself to be the leader of this band, and along with finding that confidence came the confidence to be OK with who I was as a person," explains Smith,25, who makes her first-ever appearance in the Detroit area this weekend. "When I was in high school I really admired a lot of ladies like Feist and Jenny Lewis and really wanted to go that way for the first couple of records.
"But for this one I went with the influences I grew up with, which was a lot of strong women my mom would listen to and we would dance to in the kitchen -- a ton of Janet Jackson and Natalie Merchant, a lot of pop hits from the 90s -- Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey. My mom also listened to wonderful women songwriters like Carole King, and my favorite album was (by) TLC, so that's what I'm tapping into this time."
The Queen of Soul is among those influences, too, Smith acknowledges -- explicitly so on the new album's "Child of Moving On."
"I really, really, really adore and love Aretha Franklin. I always have," Smith says. "One of my favorite songs of hers is a Ray Charles song, 'Crown in My Own Tears.' I've always loved it, and the guys (in the band) were like, 'We should cover it.'
"We did it and it felt so free and so awesome to sing that song. It felt like exactly what I wanted to do. So we covered it for probably a year of touring, and then I decided I wanted to write my own song that was just like that and could be in our set. So I did, and that was just the tip of the iceberg that got me going to all these other songs."
Caroline Smith, Seven Birds One Stone and El Dee perform Saturday, April 12, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.
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