When songwriter/artist Kimberly Smoak was first diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following her service in the First Gulf War - and then classified as "disabled" - she was devastated. She felt she was too young. She knew the horrors of combat had scarred her, left her profoudly changed, but she didn't feel disabled. What on earth would she do now?
A fellow veteran answered that question for her not long thereafter - four simple words which set Smoak on a journey of transformation and self-discovery:
"Anything you want to," he said.
He was right. And she did. The path begun that fateful day instilled in Smoak the belief that "Just because you have a label attached to you, or a disability no one can see, doesn’t mean you have to be that label or live in its shadow." That philosophy, and her love of music, has guided her since. Last September that path led her to the stage at Nissan Stadium in Nashville to accept - with her co-writers Kim Ehm and Doc McCready - a Josie Music Award for Country/Gospel Song of the Year for Hello Halleluja, recorded by artist Deby Kelley.
A natural-born entertainer, Smoak started performing at talent shows while still in elementary school in Lenapah, Oklahoma. "I was always the first to sign up," she laughs. But she'd always wanted mainly to write. She'd started with poems, "probably as soon as I could figure out how to write sentences," but didn't really start structuring the rhymes into song lyrics until much later. Once bitten by the songwriting bug, Smoak never looked back. "I absolutely love songs," she says – "the words, the melody, the feelings, the stories in those songs, the stories behind the songs…oh what heaven that is!"
In 2010, she "took a leap of faith," and began recording in Nashville, working with veteran producer/musician/entertainer Steve Goodie. The result was The Power of Ten, a 10-song CD completed "on the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year." Since then, she's released three additional albums - 2012's Smoak'N and Honoring Those Who Serve (the latter distributed free of charge to U.S. Service members, including those in Veterans' Hospitals), and Cowgirl Rockabye, released just last April.
In 2016, Smoak started getting some recognition for her talents, when she was nominated for "Country Music Female Songwriter of the Year" at the JMA. That same year, her self-penned testimonial was featured in the book "The Artist Collection: Every Music Artist Has A Story." Her star continued its ascension in 2017, when - in addition to her win - she was also nominated for JMA’s "Songwriter of the Year" and "Song of the Year" (in the "Songs Saluting America" category).
Smoak continues to write and perform, bringing her Country, Gospel, and Patriotic music to fans not only in the States, but abroad as well, and credits her success thus far to her husband Mark Copeland, her son Jake, family, friends, co-writers, and - of course - her Christian Faith. When she's not writing, recording or performing, you may well find her at the pool hall - she's won multiple awards as a billiards player too (in fact, she owns a North American Pool Shooters Association league)!!
As she says in the title of a track from her Smoak'N CD: