LaTresa Smith was born into a musical family. Her father, a Christian minister, and his minister brothers, all from Alabama, toured and performed southern Gospel music in their band, The Hester Brothers. LaTresa recalled as a young girl listening to bluegrass music on Saturday nights in an old store front in Mississippi and dreaming of having a bluegrass band of her own one day. Her mother was a local singing talent as well, and LaTresa quickly found herself singing in bands. “I don’t know that we could have grown up in that household and not been musical,” she said. At 16, she got her first real taste of the music world as a radio DJ.
Interestingly, LaTresa started her performing career as a drummer in the high school band, influenced by her older brother, also a marching band drummer. “I was his little tag-along,” she recalled. “If he did it, I had to try it too. I was never really a lover of going to school, but I absolutely loved the band. And getting into band made school something I didn’t mind doing as much.”
As a young adult, she moved out west before returning to Kentucky for 10 year, then relocating to Nashville in 2003. LaTresa has been writing songs since she was a little girl. “Writing and singing is kind of like breathing for me. I write because I have to,” she said. In 2003 she released her first bluegrass CD, Free Spirit, which was comprised of 12 original, progressive bluegrass tunes. Not long after that, she formed her band, The Signal, who she’s been playing with ever since.
LaTresa has been an ESL teacher in Metro Nashville Public Schools for twelve years, yet she is never far from her love of music. One song she co-wrote with Randy Kohrs, “Can You Give Me a Drink,” was recorded by the The Blind Boys of Alabama along with Vince Gill. She and the band recently finished recording a third CD of bluegrass gospel tunes, The Blood and The River.
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