RJ Smith was born in upstate South Carolina and fell in love with the violin at the age of 6. After nearly three years of asking her parents for lessons, she received her first violin at the age of 9. Her earliest desire was to play and perform on her chosen instrument. Due to a strict religious background, she was limited to listening to and playing only classical music, which she did avidly all the way through college. There she majored in Spanish, but continued her music studies through all 4 years with a minor in music, spending every spare hour in the music department studying piano, percussion, theory, conducting and orchestration along with the violin. She played with several orchestras throughout high school and college and was also selected for and performed with the first South Carolina All-State Collegiate Orchestra. Despite her deep appreciation for classical music, RJ always loved fiddle music and would frequently warm up for her orchestra concerts by playing through fiddle tunes instead of her symphony repertoire. She would also seek out Bluegrass and Old-Time jam sessions in the North Carolina mountains on the weekends, where she got her first taste of playing by ear and improvising.
After graduating university with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish, RJ wound up in Texas riding colts as an apprentice horse trainer for several well known trainers.
It was here where she heard Western Swing, Traditional Country and the music of Bob Wills and Ray Price for the first time. In 2006, she gave up her ranch job to focus on her first love, music, and began studying fiddle this time, with a focus on Western Swing, Traditional Country and Jazz. In February of 2007, she met and began studying fiddle with Bobby Flores at Bulverde Academy of Music. Just six months into her studies, she joined Bobby Flores’ Yellow Rose Band, as well as started teaching violin/ fiddle and music theory at Bulverde Academy of Music.
RJ toured with Bobby's band for 15 years throughout Texas, New Mexico, Louisiana and several other states in addition to performing overseas at the Festival Rendezvous du Country in France, the Northern Nashville Country Festival in Scotland and the 31st International Country Music Festival in Switzerland. She has performed for the last seven seasons on RFDTv’s TruCountry show and also on the KENS 5 morning show live. RJ was also privileged to play on all of Bobby Flores’ Western Swing Cruises.
RJ has played for several other great artists and bands as well, including a performance with Ray Price in November of 2012 as a part of his string section. Truly a dream come true! Other notable artists she has performed with include Darrell McCall, Tony Booth, Justin Trevino, George Chambers, the Drywater Band, the Bret Mullins Band, T Gozney Thornton, KR Wood, and Nathan Colt Young, along with many others. She also performed at Rick Orozco’s premiere and concert for his documentary film “This Is My Country”. At this event, RJ backed such great artists as Joel Guzman, Flaco Jimenez, Sunny Sauceda, Michael Salgado, Gabe Garcia and Rick Orozco.
The last few years have also seen the beginning of RJ’s recording and session career and she also has released her first solo studio album, titled “Living My Dream”.
With all this going on, RJ still found time to study Studio Engineering with Damian Rodriguez at Bulverde Academy of Music and has become staff Engineer at B.A.M. Recording Studios, with many great sessions in her credits already.
RJ is so thankful to have been given the chance to pursue what she loves and to “Live Her Dream”!