The “real deal” of country music, Connie Smith with her band The Sundowners, and Michael Hix and Texas Opry's own Amazing Made In Texas Showtime Band will play two shows on Friday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.Smith was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2011 and can be seen every week on the Marty Stuart Show on RFDTV. It is a Nashville legend that Smith’s first record, the aching and unforgettable Once A Day written by Bill Anderson and recorded on July 23, 1964 when she was just 23, became one of the most celebrated singles in country music history. It was the first debut single by a female country singer to go to No. 1, a position it held for eight weeks. Forty-seven years later it is still the only first single ever to have done that. Once A Day and How Great Thou Art remain the two most requested songs by her fans to this day.The wake of Smith’s success carried her onto the stage of WSM’s Grand Ole Opry as a featured guest performer. Her first 22 performances resulted in 22 encores. On August 21, 1965, Smith was welcomed as a member of the Grand Ole Opry family. The king of country music, Roy Acuff, gave her the title of “The Sweetheart of the Grand Ole Opry.” In a matter of four years, Smith evolved from a local housewife to one of the top artists in country music. She was referred to by fans and critics alike as “Country Music’s Cinderella.” However, in the midst of one of Nashville’s most notable ascents, Smith was by her own design a reluctant star. Her main priority was her family. Among the many changes over the past four years, a major change in Smith’s life occurred in the spring of 1968 - she became a born-again Christian. Her life as a new child of God and some of her musical and personal decisions during this period are more often than not, the point in Smith’s story where the facts go askew. The most common myth being that when she became a Christian, she began a ministry and quit singing country music to be a gospel singer. Smith states, “Becoming a Christian changed my life and gave me new life. It added depth to me and my music as well, whether I sing a country song or a sacred song. However, I have never thought of myself as anything but a country singer. As the ninth decade of the 20th century rolled on, so did Smith. After a chance encounter with fellow country star Marty Stuart, she asked him if he’d be interested in working with her. They co-wrote most of the 1996 self-titled Warner Brothers project which Stuart co-produced. Their working relationship became an unexpected romance and today, they have been married for more than a decade. They continue to collaborate as artists and songwriters. Smith and Stuart have now written more than 40 songs together. Two of particular note are Farmer’s Blues and Hearts Like Ours. Farmers’ Blues is the song that Stuart recorded with Merle Haggard. It was included in Stuart’s duets projects entitled Compadres. Hearts Like Ours, one of their rare duets is also featured on the same project.In 2000, Smith re-assembled an archetypal country band using the template of her original Sundowners from the 1960s. The newly-minted combo is regarded as one of the last remaining authentic country bands in existence. In an era of country music whose point of reference is more the Rolling Stones than George Jones, The Sundowners are a defiant hillbilly force that stand as a monument to classic country music. They back Smith with a fiery wall of steel guitar-drenched twang that’s cooled by an endless stream of telecaster teardrops.In 2002, Smith was voted in at No. 9 on CMT’s Greatest Women of Country Music. Smith’s favorite male country singer, Jones, returns the compliment by naming her as his favorite female country singer of all time. Dolly Parton has also credited Smith by once saying, “There’s only three real female singers; Barbara Streisand, Linda Ronstadt and Connie Smith. The rest of us are only pretending.”Fans of Smith will soon have new projects from her to listen to. She and Stuart have been writing and gathering songs and, as Stuart puts it, “We are well on our journey back into the recording studio to begin work on one of the three projects that we have in mind to do. The first is a traditional country collection; in wings are a gospel set and an acoustic offering.” Smtih and The Sundowners still maintain a regular concert schedule as well as appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. She can also be seen as a regular on Stuart’s weekly television series, that airs on Saturday nights on the RFD network.Buy tickets at www.texasoprytheater.com or call 817-341-1000.