Music has been an emotional and spiritual outlet for Joe Schmidt since his mother taught him to sing as a little boy. The North Dakota farmer/rancher, husband and father of four remembers practicing with 45’s on the record player and singing “My Name is Michael” with his brother and sister at local talent shows when he was five.
“It’s hard to explain exactly, but for me singing is my way to release – to unload my thoughts, my heart, my soul and give myself completely,” he said.
Joe grew up in south central North Dakota in what he describes as “an incredible childhood” of hunting, fishing and caring for the family’s registered Simmental cattle. He also fostered his love of music by playing saxophone in the school band, singing in the church and school choirs and singing along with Marty Robbins, Keith Whitley, George Strait and Garth Brooks on the radio.
After graduating from high school, Joe studied farm and ranch management at Bismarck State College. Then along came Sherry, a bright-eyed and beautiful “friend of a friend” who instantly recognized Joe’s musical gift and unexpectedly stole his heart. “I wasn’t looking for love, but the night I met her I knew she was the one.” After a two-year courtship, the couple married in 2001.
The couple started a family in Joe’s home town of Medina, North Dakota, where he was born and raised. Joe launched a successful trucking and feeder cattle marketing businesses to supplement his small grains and soybeans farm, only years later to have inspiration guide him towards a special project: to record a CD’s worth of his favorite songs as a family heirloom for his wife and four children. “When it’s my time to go, I don’t know if I’ll have any land or cattle or money to leave behind,” Joe explained, “so I decided to leave my voice. I hope they will see this as an expression of my love and it’ll be a little piece of me that they will have forever.” When he arrived in Nashville to complete the family treasure, others recognized Joe’s rich sound and honest lyrics and convinced him that his gift was one that needed to be shared not just with his family but with people around the world.
Since then Joe has embraced that challenge and began recording original songs that capture his faith, the love for family, the land and this great nation. Joe draws inspiration for his music from the wide open North Dakota prairie, friends and family, but he credits his father mostly: “Ideas for the lyrics so often come from the philosophies of my dad and the values of honesty, integrity and hard work that he taught us,” Joe said.
Joe can typically be found in the seat of a tractor, on a fishing boat or swapping stories with friends with a lime-embellished glass of Crown and water in hand. “But music allows me to share my world – my way of life – with others and to connect in a way that only music allows.”