Sammi Smith Biography
Sammi Smith was an American country music singer and song writer. She is popularly known for her country/pop crossover hit, "Help Me Make It Through the Night", which came out in 1971. She was born on August 5, 1943 as Jewel Faye Smith. During the 70s, she was one of the few women in the outlaw country movement. She passed away on February 12, 2005, at the age of 61. Sammi was born in Orange County, California, United States of America but spent her early childhood in Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona and Colorado.
At the age of eleven, she dropped out of school and began to singing professionally at nightclubs. She married at the young age of fifteen, and eventually had four kids. In 1967, soon after her divorce, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where she signed with Columbia Records. A year later, in 1968, she had her first minor country hit "So Long, Charlie Brown, Don't Look for Me Around", which showed her potential as a country inspiration. In 1970, on signing with a new label called Mega Records, her first hit for her new label was released. The song "He's Everywhere", made it to the top 25 on the country charts. Finally, in 1971, the song "Help Me Make It Through the Night" was released which straight away became a # 1 hit on the country charts and #8 on the Billboard U.S. pop chart. In April 1971, with over two million copies sold, it was awarded a gold disc by the R.I.A.A.. Record companies were, at first, uncomfortable with the song's honest sexuality, which was quite new for country music, but after the DJs tested the song and received enormous response from listeners, the song was released. Her fame rose to prominence with the success of "Help Me Make It Through the Night". With this she became one of the rare women in the 1970s "outlaw country" movement. During this time, the country music was moving in two directions: a more mainstream pop sound and "outlaw". As country took on a distinctly pop cast by the end of the '70s, "outlaw country" became short-lived. However, she remained with the "outlaw" throughout the rest of the 70s decade.
In 1972, Smith won a Grammy Award for Best Female Country Vocal Performance and she also became a household name in the music business. In 1973, Sammi moved to Dallas, Texas, with Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson to become a country "outlaw". The success of her record followed suit, with "Then You Walk In" (1971), "I've Got to Have You" (1972), "The Rainbow in Daddy's Eyes" (1974), "Long Black Veil" (1974) and "Today I Started Loving You Again" (1975). In 1976, she left Mega Records and signed with Elektra Records and scored with several hits such as "Sunday School to Broadway" (1976), "I Can't Stop Loving You" (1977), "Days That End in Y" (1977), and "Loving Arms" (1977). With Cyclone Records she returned to the country music scene with a successful comeback album on called Girl Hero, in 1979. After that, she almost disappeared from the music scene and little was heard from her. She moved to Arizona and became involved in Native American causes, working for Apaches. She even started her own band called Apache Spirit, which had Native American members.
Talking about her personal life, Smith was in a relationship with Anthony 'Tony' Albert in the mid to late 1970's. He was in different bands at the time they met. Their relationship was an on again off again type. Tony later said that his biggest regret was that he should have married her. Smith later married Bob White. He owned a nightclub in Ft Smith, Arizona. Her son, Waylon Payne, is an actor. She also has a daughter named Snow Smith and a son in Ft smith, Arkansas who is known by the name Zenith Star. She passed away on February 12, 2005, at the age of 61, at her home in Oklahoma City. The cause of her death was never confirmed. More on her is available on her biography on the Wikipedia.