A lady of mu­sic

Bishop’s Cove se­nior re­leases CD of orig­i­nal mu­sic

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY BUR­TON K. JANES bur­tonj@nfld.net

Mil­dred Os­borne Smith may seem late in the game, at 63 years of age, to be re­leas­ing her de­but CD. But age is just a num­ber, and the Bishop’s Cove res­i­dent has more than enough tunes in store to fill out her al­bum of coun­try songs, called Liv­ing My Dream. The 10song record­ing fea­tures tunes writ­ten ex­clu­sively by Smith.

Mil­dred Os­borne Smith of Bishop’s Cove has no in­ten­tion of ever “rust­ing on her lau­rels.”

“I’m 63,” she says. “But I’m 63 years and hold­ing; 63 years young.” She em­pha­sizes the last word.

Her age has done noth­ing to dis­suade her from pur­su­ing her life’s dream.

“I’m like Ge­orge Jones,” Smith says with a smile. “ ‘I don’t need no rock­ing chair.’ Why stay idle if you can be ac­tive and do some good for your­self and other peo­ple? No­body’s ever too old to do some­thing they re­ally want to do.”

She should know, for hers is the voice of ex­pe­ri­ence. For as long as she can re­mem­ber, she’s wanted to be a singer. More to the point, she’s wanted her own CD of orig­i­nal lyrics and mu­sic.

“ That was in my head, but I was think­ing, ‘ This is never go­ing to hap­pen to me,’” she re­calls.

At times, it seemed her dream would never come to pass. How­ever, that will all change later this week when she’s sched­uled to re­lease for her very own CD, ap­pro­pri­ately ti­tled Liv­ing My Dream. Though the road lead­ing to this moment was filled with ruts that threat­ened to end her dream, in the end she suc­ceeded em­i­nently.

Smith was born in Spa­niard’s Bay. When she was about nine, she moved with her fam­ily to Bell Is­land, where her fa­ther worked as a miner. Four years later, they re­turned to the Con­cep­tion Bay com­mu­nity. Smith stayed there un­til she re­lo­cated to Bishop’s Cove, af­ter mar­ry­ing a man from the com­mu­nity. Smith is the proud mother of Deb­o­rah, 44, Len, 43, and her name­sake Mil­dred, 37.

Smith and her hus­band, Gor­don R. — to dis­tin­guish him from two other Gor­don Smiths in Bishop’s Cove — op­er­ate an al­ter­nate fam­ily care home, li­cenced by East­ern Health and so­cial ser­vices. A peo­ple per­son, Smith “ needs to be needed. If some­body needs my help, that makes my day,” she says.

Sing­ing was part of who Smith was as a young girl.

“ When Mom had friends over, the only way they’d get me to sing was if I got be­hind her chair, so they couldn’t see me,” she re­mem­bers.

Once Smith got over her shy­ness, she sang for hun­dreds of wed­dings and var­i­ous other small func­tions through the years.

In 1975, she par­tic­i­pated in an am­a­teur sing­ing con­test in a Bay Roberts club. Her se­lec­tion was The Hap­pi­est Girl in the Whole USA by Donna Fargo. One of 43 con­tes­tants, Smith won first place. She used her $500 win­nings to buy her first gui­tar and a kerosene heater.

When­ever she thought about mak­ing her own record­ing, she came up with what she thought were jus­ti­fi­able rea­sons why she couldn’t do it: “My chil­dren are small; I have to work; and I don’t have the means to go into some­thing like that.”

An event last April changed her mind. She at­tended the re­lease party of a CD put out by her friends, Ian and Rod Chipman, of Play­ers Choice Stu­dio in Spa­niard’s Bay.

“I’d be so happy if that were me,” she said to her­self. “ This is the night

“I never thought I’d live long enough for this to hap­pen. I know I’ll shed a

tear or two.”

— Mil­dred Os­borne Smith

they’ve been wait­ing for. This could be my night.” The party trig­gered some­thing in her.

Gor­don gave his wife the fi­nal nudge she needed. And on June 7, Smith of­fi­cially started work­ing on her al­bum. Five months later, Liv­ing My Dream is ready to be re­leased to the pub­lic. Fi­nally, Mil­dred Os­borne Smith will have her night. “It’s a dream come true for me,” she en­thuses.

Smith had 1,000 CDs pressed. In re­sponse to a ques­tion about her fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment in the project, Smith says, “It was a lot more ex­pen­sive than I thought it was go­ing to be. Ex­pen­sive but worth­while. I wouldn’t take that money back now for any­thing.”

Smith wrote the lyrics and mu­sic to all 10 songs fea­tured on her record­ing. These in­clude The Ocean Ranger Tragedy, My Spa­niard’s Bay Home, Megan (in hon­our of her first grand­child), and Tell Your Mother (a trib­ute to her mother).

Smith has writ­ten 50-60 songs and po­ems. “ There’s a story be­hind each one,” she says. “Peo­ple can re­late to a lot of it.” There are lyrics about mar­riage breakup, as well as com­i­cal com­po­si­tions. Her mu­si­cal style? “I’ve got sort of a coun­try style,” she says. By “coun­try,” she means “the pure old coun­try, the Kitty Wells stuff,” she adds. “I also think there’s a bit of Ir­ish or New­found­land folk sound to some of my tunes.”

Other per­form­ers who have in­flu­enced Smith’s style are Jean Shep­ard, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn and Car­roll Baker.

In fact, Smith and Baker are in touch with each other via the so­cial me­dia. Baker wished Smith well with her CD, en­cour­ag­ing her to sing from her heart.

“ But Ge­orge Jones is the king,” Smith says. “He’s my idol.”

Smith’s fam­ily mem­bers are ec­static about her achieve­ment.

Her daugh­ter, Deb­o­rah, com­ments, “Al­ways hold­ing true to her­self, (Mom) waited and knew that some­day she would have the time to em­bark on mak­ing her own CD and pub­lish­ing some of the many songs she has writ­ten over the years. I’m very proud of her re­cent ac­com­plish­ment of fi­nally com­plet­ing a heart­felt goal of hers.”

Smith’s sis­ter, Bev­erly, is no less ef­fu­sive in her praise. “Mil­dred has the voice of an an­gel and de­serves this chance. She will al­ways be a star in our eyes.”

Smith her­self is rather mod­est in her wish for those who pick up her al­bum. “ I’m hop­ing they’re go­ing to mel­low with it; re­lax with it.”

“Mil­dred has the voice of an an­gel and de­serves this chance. She will al­ways be

a star in our eyes.

— Bev­erly Love­less

The re­lease party for Mil­dred Os­borne Smith’s CD, Liv­ing My Dream, will be held at the Sea­side Lounge in Spa­niard’s Bay at 8 p.m. on Nov. 13.

“ I never thought I ’d live long enough for this to hap­pen,” she re­flects. “I know I’ll shed a tear or two.”

Smith is known to­day for en­cour­ag­ing oth­ers: “ You’re never too old. You can make your­self be­lieve you lost your chance in life. Don’t ever give up on your dreams.”

In­ci­den­tally, Smith still has one un­ful­filled dream: “I think that af­ter I get all this done I’m go­ing to go and look for a Har­ley-Davidson for my hus­band and me to ride through New­found­land.”

Know­ing her de­ter­mi­na­tion, she’ll be liv­ing that dream, as well, in the not­too-dis­tant fu­ture.

Photo by Bur­ton K. Janes/Spe­cial to The Com­pass

Mil­dred Os­borne Smith sing­ing a tune, ac­com­pa­ny­ing her­self on gui­tar, in her home in Bishop’s Cove.

Photo sub­mit­ted

Mil­dred Os­borne Smith of Bishop’s Cove work­ing on her CD in Play­ers Choice Stu­dio, Spa­niard’s Bay.

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