Connie came on the stage in a little homemade cowgirl outfit with a guitar that was nearly as big as she was! She sang Jean Shepard’s 1955 Top Ten hit “I Thought Of You.”
While Connie was performing, Anderson listened intebntly as she shaped the song in her unique, inflective, powerful style. During that period of time, most young female upstarts in country music were trying to sound either like Patsy Cline (who had died a few months before), or the “Queen Of Country Music,” Kitty Wells. But Smith, Anderson noted, sounded refreshingly different.
Her style was as singular as she was beautiful. Leaning back in his chair and taking in the way Connie wrapped her voice around each word, Bill thought that he might have discovered the next great female country music star.
Smith hadn’t expected to meet and visit with Bill Anderson at the venue that day. In fact she didn’t even know he was there. Anderson was already a top star, both as a songwriter and as a recording artist. Several months earlier, Bill had already nailed down one of the year’s top hits with his #1 recording of “Still.”
Anderson approached Connie, offered his congratulations on winning the contest, visited with her a while, and then suggested that she come to Nashville and give the music business a shot. Smith was so overwhelmed that she passed off the invitation as just polite chit-chat, but the thing Connie didn’t realize was that Anderson was serious.
Five months later, in January of 1964, Connie went to see Bill at one of his shows in Canton, Ohio.
She told Anderson that she had been thinking over the music idea pretty seriously. By March, Bill had pulled some strings and arranged for her to come down to Music City and sing on Ernest Tubb’s “Midnight Jamboree,” a show that aired each week on WSM Radio following the “Grand Ole Opry” broadcast.
While she was in town, Anderson had her record a few demo tracks and he took them over to Owen Bradley, his producer at Decca Records. Unfortunately Bradley was convinced that his stable was full. He had recently signed Loretta Lynn, and felt that he just couldn’t use another female singer at that time.