Interesting Details About Granger Smith and How His Son Died

Granger Smith is a country singer and songwriter from the United States of America. He is married to actress Amber Emily Bartlett with whom he has three children. The number of their kids would have been four if not for the death of their third child, River Kelly Smith, who died in a drowning accident at their home on June 4, 2019.

We wouldn’t deny that Granger Smith has a successful career, judging by certain measures. But for some reason, he is yet to have his major career breakthrough, and the tragic death of his three-year-old son, which he and his entire family are still trying to recover from, could hold him back for a while as one would naturally expect. Find out more details about the musician and how he lost his son below.

Granger Smith’s Background Details and Early Life

The country music singer was born Granger Kelly Smith on September 4, 1979, in Dallas, Texas, where he was also raised together with his brothers- Parker Smith and Tyler Smith. Also known by his alter ego, Earl Dibbles Jr., Granger is a graduate of Lake Highlands High School, Dallas. He started getting interested in music as a 14-year-old boy. He began to teach himself how to play the guitar because he initially wanted to be noticed by the female folks in his school.

However, it eventually increased his love for music to the point of making him chose it as a career path. Smith’s passion for singing and playing the guitar was drawn from the King of Country, George Strait, but while he was in high school, he had other interests apart from singing and the guitar as he was also part of his school’s football team. Sequel to his high school graduation in 1998, Granger Smith furthered his education at Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

While there, he joined the institution’s student military organization known as the Corps of Cadets. However, he had to leave school after his sophomore year because he had signed a songwriting contract and needed to move to Nashville. Having no intention to abandon his university education, he re-enrolled into Texas A&M upon his return to Texas and subsequently finished with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History.

Biography and Profile Summary of Grаngеr Ѕmіth

Full Nаmе: Grаngеr Кеllу Ѕmіth
Gеndеr: Маlе
Віrth Dаtе: Ѕерtеmbеr 4, 1979
Аgе: 43-Yеаrѕ Old
Віrth Рlасе: Dаllаѕ, Техаѕ
Nаtіоnаlіtу: Аmеrісаn
Неіght: 1.75 m
Wеіght: 74 kg
Маrіtаl Ѕtаtuѕ: Маrrіеd
Name of Wіfе/Ѕроuѕе: Аmbеr Еmіlу Smith ( nee Ваrtlеtt)
Сhіldrеn: Lоndоn Ѕmіth, Lіnсоln Моnаrсh Ѕmіth, Rіvеr Кеllу Ѕmіth (dесеаѕеd), and Maverick Beckham Smith
Profession: Singer and Songwriter
Net Worth: $6 million

Image Source

He Kicked Off His Music Career While He Was Still A University Undergraduate

While he was at Texas A&M, Granger released his first studio album titled Waiting on Forever on the 30th of November 1999. At the time of the release, the young star was only 19 years old and thanks to the album, he received just enough recognition to draw the attention of the multinational music publishing company, EMI Music Publishing, which came with a contract offer for him to write songs for them. He agreed to the offer and this was the reason for his relocation to Nashville. 

During his time in Nashville, Granger gave time to honing his songwriting talent and also learned to record music. He also performed in bars and clubs and served as a backup guitarist for some local artists. On 10 June 2004, he released his second studio album, Memory Rd. and about five years after he left Texas (sometime in 2005), he decided it was time to move back.

By 2006, he had two more albums to his credit. He dropped Pockets of Pesos on May 11 2005 and on October 6, 2006, he released Livin’ Like a Lonestar. Both of the albums were successful as each of them recorded more sales than the one before. He continued to excel and make more impact, and in the year 2008, he performed for the first time at the White House during the administration of former President George W. Bush. Also in the same year, he traveled down to the middle east countries of Iraq and Kuwait to perform for the U.S troops deployed there.

On April 20, 2009, Granger Smith’s fifth studio album, Don’t Listen to the Radio, was released. This was followed by his sixth album titled Poets & Prisoners on the 12th of April 2011. On 16 April 2013, the country singer to America by storm with the release of his self-produced seventh studio album, Dirt Road Driveway. Not only did it take the fifteenth spot on the Billboard US Country Chart but it also made it to the eleventh position on the US Indie Chart. The 41:05-long album is made up of twelve tracks and nine he wrote nine of it all by himself and co-wrote three.

On the 12th of August 2015, Smith made an announcement, revealing that he had signed with Wheelhouse Records, an imprint of the Nashville-based record label named BBR Music Group (then known as Broken Bow Records). Before then, he released an EP titled 4×4, which he produced alongside Frank Rogers. The 17:59-long album debuted at number six on the Top Country Albums chart and at number 51 on the Billboard 200, with its lead single, Backroad Song, selling more than 32,000 downloads in the first week of its release.

With 4×4, which was Smith’s preview of his then-upcoming debut major label album, Remington, he officially debuted on mainstream radio. He eventually released the album, which is his eighth, on March 4, 2016, and on its debut, it made it to the top of the US Top Country Albums Chart. This was followed by the release of his ninth album, When the Good Guys Win, on October 27, 2017. The singer’s tenth album is in two parts. While the first part titled Country Things Vol. 1 was released on September 25, 2020, the second part is slated to be released sometime in November 2020.

Speaking of Granger and his music, Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic says that he is appealing because of the way he seems like the guy next door. However, he added that the same appeal is the singer’s Achilles heel as “he seems like any good old boy who might cross your way, which is reason enough to like him, but there’s no hook to make you remember him.”

How Much Is Granger Smith’s Net Worth?

The talented country music singer has an estimated net worth of about $6million. Although his music career, which spans more than twenty years, is his major source of income, he is also involved in several other ventures through which he earns money. One of these is the Yee Yee brand which he co-owns with his brothers Tyler and Parker. The brand name, “Yee Yee”, stems from the infamous catchphrase of Earl Dibbles Jr., Granger Smith’s country boy alter-ego.

Among this brand is the Yee Yee Apparel, an outdoor, lifestyle label which, according to the brothers, “is a symbol for those who value faith, family, and the outdoors.” On June 23, 2021, it was announced that Granger and his brothers had made a new addition to their Yee Yee brand. This new addition, an online radio station and mobile app known as Yee Yee Radio was launched on July 12, 2020, in collaboration with Anthony Lay, better known as Antman. The brothers formed the online radio based on their belief that music can be a uniting factor among us all.

In addition to the Yee Yee brand, the musician also has a family YouTube channel known as The Smiths, which has 259K subscribers. He also has a personal channel called Yee Yee Life (meaning “Live Life To The Fullest”, according to Granger) which is dedicated to his adventures on tour and boasts 36.9K subscribers as of September 16, 2021. Smith also has a podcast called Granger Smith Podcast.

On August 21, 2018, he published a book titled “If You’re City, If You’re Country,” under the name Earl Dibbles Jr. In the book, he illustrates various scenarios that show the difference between how people in the city and country folks do things. A copy of it is sold for $15.13 on Amazon. Also in 2018, Smith released a documentary titled “They Were There: A Hero’s Documentary” in honor of soldiers who died while serving America. On Amazon, an MP3 of the documentary’s soundtrack is sold for $7.99.

The Musician Is Married To An Actress

Granger Smith is married to Amber Smith
Granger Smith and his wife, Amber Image Source

Granger Smith met his future wife, Amber Emily Bartlett, in 2009 on the set of his music video Don’t Listen to the Radio. Born on the 16th of November 1981 in Tarrant County, Texas, Amber is a graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington. She finished from the institution in 2005 with a B.A. in Broadcast Communication/News and a Minor in Sociology.

Abber is an actress, though not one of the biggest names in Hollywood. She is best known for her roles as Audrey in the 2010 film Monsterwolf, a bartender in Earthling (2010), and as Rosemary Ely in the 2011 movie Beneath the Darkness (2011). After her first meeting with Smith, they dated for a while before getting married on February 11, 2010, and since then, she has featured in several of her husband’s music videos. She now goes by the name “Amber Smith” and in the about section of their family YouTube channel, she describes herself as a “…city girl turned country”.

The Couple’s Union Has Produced Four Children

Granger Smith
Granger Smith and his wife Amber with their children (L-R) River, London, and Lincoln

Granger and his wife announced the arrival of their first child, a daughter named London Smith, in 2011, and on the 7th of January 2014, their second child (and first son) named Lincoln Monarch Smith was born. The Smith family was further increased on May 16, 2016, following the birth of their second son, River Kelly Smith, who, unfortunately, died on June 4, 2019.

One year and nine months after River passed, the country singer announced that they were expecting another child on Instagram and added a beautiful video. Five months later, Granger Smith and his wife had something new to smile about. They welcomed their fourth child, a baby boy named Maverick Beckham Smith on August 20, 2021, and the country singer shared the news of his arrival on his social media, posting a picture of his wife and new baby at the hospital.

Interesting Details About Granger Smith’s 3 Year Old Son’s Death

In June 2019, Granger and his wife broke the heartbreaking news that their youngest son at the time, River Kelly Smith, had died in a drowning accident at their home outside Georgetown, Texas. About two weeks later, the couple opened up about their loss in a video on the YouTube channel, The Smiths. They appreciated friends and fans for their outpour of love and support, talked about how they intended to move on with their other two children, London and Lincoln, and told the story of the unpleasant event that changed their lives forever.

On the evening of the accident, June 4, 2019, Granger was in the yard playing with his kids, River, Lincoln, and London while his wife took a shower inside. While he was doing gymnastics with London, the boys were playing water gun fight. He recalled looking at London as she was doing her thing and telling himself to soak up the moment because it wasn’t going to last forever. As he focused his attention on his daughter, Granger did not notice that River had breached the pool fence gate’s child-proof lock and made his way into the water.

By the time he noticed River’s absence, it was already late. According to him, “Somewhere between 30 seconds and three minutes, we don’t know, Amber and I are inside our pool gate doing CPR on our son.” At that point, River had lost consciousness and his lungs were filled with water. The couple performed CPR on him for 10 minutes before help came.

Although EMTs succeeded at restoring the child’s heartbeat, it was of not much use as he had already suffered very serious damage to his brain. He was transported to Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin but despite the efforts of doctors, he never woke up. Having no choice left, the Smiths made the painful decision of taking River off life support two days after the accident. His organs were harvested and donated for transplant.

Finding Healing After His Son’s Death

Giving the gift of life (River’s organs) to two donor recipients was the Smiths’ first step towards finding purpose in the death of their son. Three weeks after the organ donation, they also donated $218,000 to Dell Children’s Medical Center. This was money realized from the sale of memorial T-shirts to Granger’s fans known as the Yee Yee Nation. Taking things a step further, the couple also set up a permanent River Kelly Fund to support different causes. Getting involved in charity is probably the easiest step they have taken as they have been able to navigate their grief.

One month after River passed, Granger moved his family out of their home into another house nearby. He also resumed his touring and for some time, his wife and two kids toured with him. According to him, resuming his performances was horrifying. “But I knew that would be a critical part of my healing process, and my gut instinct was right,” he told People in July 2020. The most difficult part, he said, was standing before the audience and deciding, “they’re staring at me like, there’s the failed father up there.”

However, with the unlimited support he got from fans over the months, he has been able to get those thoughts off his mind, but the singer admitted that he still feels guilty over the death of his son. He went on to add that he knows there is going to be a time when he is going to forgive himself, “but I’m not there yet,” he says.

Chidimma Eze
Chidimma Eze
Chidimma is a Mass Communications graduate with about 4 years experience. She has a flair for all things entertainment and when she's not writing, you would most likely find her either spending time with her family, binge-watching whatever television series that holds her interest at the time or silently editing other people’s grammar.


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