Youth Spotlight: Savannah Smith
By Leslie Grace / A! Magazine for the Arts | June 26, 2012Though her performing days began when she was a toddler singing into a toy microphone and putting on shows for her family and friends, at the age of 14 Savannah Smith has become a seasoned performer. She is most likely to be found at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historic State Park in Big Stone Gap, Va., or onstage at the Trail of the Lonesome Pine, but her interests do not stop there.
"After school and on weekends I loved getting together with friends and video-taping us doing plays, shows and pageants," she says. "I would set up the camera on a tripod and record myself doing the local news and talk shows. Now I do stuff like that on the computer." She and her friends will put together a fashion show or play at a moment's notice.
When she's not making videos with friends, Savannah might be seen hosting the monthly Coffee House at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historic State Park or performing in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
Savannah's involvement with the museum began when she was only 8, when her family went to volunteer.
"I remember the first time volunteering at the museum with my Dad and Papaw," she recalls. "We went down there to rake leaves which was fun because there were large piles of leaves there to jump into."
Her first volunteer experience led to helping with the museum's children's programs and special events, such as the Coffee House. Held the first Saturday of the month, it is an open mic evening with artists of different styles performing. In addition to hosting occasionally, she also performs in it.
Her grandmother, Brenda Smith, works at the museum and was the connection that led her family to volunteer there. It was her grandmother who was instrumental in encouraging Savannah to perform in The Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
"Since I was always so entertaining around the house, my Mamaw thought I would like to be in the drama and took me to one of their auditions," she says. "She would always stay backstage and watch out for us kids between scenes."
Her first roles were as a school child in 2009 and as a neighbor child in 2010. In 2011, she landed her first speaking role, Abigail, who is engaged to the owner of the general store.
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine is the longest continually running outdoor drama in the state and is the official Outdoor Drama of Virginia. It is a dramatization of the story made famous in the early 1900s by the noted author John Fox, Jr. It depicts the effect that the discovery of coal in the Appalachian Mountains had on the people of the mountain region.
In addition to her acting and hosting roles, Savannah is a dancer, gymnast and musician. She began taking dance lessons when she was 6 and prefers jazz dance and gymnastics the most. This, along with her love of dressing up and being on stage, led her to participate in beauty pageants.
"I don't do them to worry about winning. I just think it's a fun thing to do," she says.
Her musical passion began with piano lessons when she was 10. They came in handy because her Christmas gift that year was a piano. Those lessons led to singing and guitar lessons. She plays the flute in her school band. She is also a songwriter who focuses on Christian songs and music about life events.
"My favorite songs to sing are similar to the ones by Adele and Ron Pope," she explains. "I like to compose songs about true life events and Christian songs. My guitar instructor and I co-wrote a Christian song about finding your way and focus in life through baptism. It's called The Wanderer. We sang it together at the May Coffee House at the Southwest Virginia Museum."
In addition to her piano, guitar and song writing, Savannah also plays the flute in her school band. She'll be balancing all of this as she continues her music lessons and prepares for her new role as a majorette with the Union High School Band.
"I hope I measure up to the task," she says. "It has been a lot of fun so far."
Her family says that she has their love and support always.
Savannah resides in Big Stone Gap., Va., and is the daughter of Kevin and Jessica Smith and Angela Ramey.
Savannah performing at Southwest Virginia Museum's Coffeehouse.
Savannah at Trail of the Lonesome Pine.
Savannah volunteering at Cindy Lou Who from The Grinch.