Granger Smith was thinking about retiring from music for months before his recent announcement.
The country singer took to Instagram earlier this month to confirm he’d be taking a step back from music to pursue ministry and serve his family’s church.
During a chat with ET Canada’s Carlos Bustamante, Smith said of how long he’d been thinking about retiring, “I probably knew for sure around October 2022. So I had a long time to think about it. And the longer the time went by, the more sure I was of it. And then probably around New Year’s… I knew it’s time to tell the band, time to tell the crew and start the ball rolling.”
Bustamante mentioned whether he’d been thinking he’d have to do it now or maybe never do it, to which Smith replied, “Yeah, I think it’s an overwhelming feeling. You know, as I was studying and reading the Bible and trying to be faithful to God as much as I could, and if I want to be faithful, if I want to surrender and be faithful, then it would be a contradiction if I said, ‘Well, I’m going to be faithful on my terms or on my time.’
“And so I kind of wrestled with that. Like… Delayed obedience is disobedience, and so I wrestled with that, and I thought about that.
“This is not for everyone to hear me say that and think that that’s supposed to apply to their lives immediately. This is just it was my own sanctification.
“It was my own feeling that I started wrestling with. I am trying to get glory and get praise and seek self-gratification every night on the stage, that is what I’m trying to do. And so if I could reconcile that with no, I’m trying to do it for the people, I’m trying to bring joy to the people, that would be lying to myself because I needed the praise. I needed people to cheer.
“Otherwise, it just wasn’t a good show for me. And that was the key. That was the key that let me know, this is not a healthy path that you’re on right now.”
Smith said of the conversations he and his wife of 12 years, Amber Bartlett, had about his retirement, “It was probably a slow process. She probably saw it coming because of what I would say when I’d come back off tour and my passion was slowly kind of decreasing on tour and making music.
“In October of 2021, I left my record label and they just let me go so gracefully and so graciously. And I’m so thankful for BMG and the way that they, you know… they’re not supposed to do that, not supposed to let an artist go like that.
“But, they saw it coming. Since we lost our son, they saw a change in me and a change in direction, a change in purpose and what I wanted to accomplish from my platform. So they let me go.
“I thought that was probably a good move to clear up, you know, trying to chase the radio chart and put out new singles, you know, and have a quota for that. But it wasn’t enough because I still felt that feeling that touring was still weighing me down as well.”
Smith and Bartlett tragically lost their son River, 3, when he died in a drowning accident in June 2019.
Smith said of how losing River has contributed to where he’s at today, “It’s a huge hinge. It’s a pivot point in my life. Take that moment out of my life, and I don’t see things changing really from what they were in 2017, 18, 19. I don’t see the change because that was the pivot.
“That was the moment when through my recovery, through therapy, through trying to just get better to to come out of that and feel normal again… I did a lot of thinking, you know, a lot of deep thinking, a lot of studying.
“I think through that it was this idea, this just persistent idea that when I look back on my life, I want to have done things that mattered, not things that I loved or things that were cool or things that I enjoyed as much as the things that mattered.
“And when I’m on my deathbed and I think all of us have that as humans, we inherently we all have this feeling that we want to do things that matter.”
Smith is currently saying farewell to fans with his “Like A River” tour. He’s also set to release his book, Like a River: Finding the Faith and Strength to Move Forward After Loss and Heartache, on August 1.