County native survives American Idol’s first cut

Published 4:12 pm Monday, August 1, 2011

By BETH CHAPMAN / Community Columnist

Shelby County native Jarrett Smith has made it through the Jackson, Miss., round of American Idol.

Smith lives in Jackson, working for Enterprise Commercial Truck Rental, a division of Enterprise Rental Car. He markets, recruits and manages their accounts.

He doesn’t remember how he stumbled upon the website for the tryout.

“I figured I had nothing to lose, just another thing on my bucket list I guess.”

As a result, he was chosen first of 44 ambitious musicians to advance.

Smith chose the song “Jolene,” by Ray LaMontagne, which in recent years has been performed by the Zac Brown Band.

Jarrett Smith. (Contributed)

Though Smith plays the guitar, he performed a cappella

“I figured if my voice wasn’t good enough to sing it without music then I didn’t deserve to advance,” he said.

The judges will be doubly impressed when he adds his guitar in the next round.

Singing a cappella was just Smith’s way of “putting my back up against the wall and going big or going home.”

That is just the kind of person he is. One judge twice asked Smith if he knew anyone named Jolene.  When he replied no, the judge said, “Well, you sure sang that song like you do.”

That is a good indicator of the type of raw talent and passion with which Smith sings.

Another judge couldn’t figure him out, commenting, “You have this tough exterior, but when you open your mouth to sing that just all goes away.”

Knowing Smith most of his life, I can assure her that is exactly who he is — no false pretenses, just real and down-to-earth.

Now being featured on television, Smith is humble about his big win.

“I’m not going to sell out to a dream. I have a job I go to everyday that I love, and I play my music on the side. It’s like getting your cake and eating it, too.”

This experience is just the icing on that proverbial cake for Smith, who is motivated, energetic and excited about his new job with Enterprise and passionate about his music and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The next competition is in Houston, then Hollywood. Smith isn’t looking that far ahead though, just working hard at his job and living his dream — two-fold.

Patti and Jerry Smith of Indian Springs are Jarrett’s proud parents. We all wish him the best of luck as he is already our hometown “Idol.”

Beth Chapman, Alabama’s secretary of state, is a Shelby County resident and writes a weekly column for the Shelby County Reporter. You can reach her at