Granger Smith, 39, suffered the “unthinkable”: the loss of his own child. The country singer used this word in a heartbreaking post on June 6, which revealed the tragic passing of his youngest child, River. The boy was just three years old when he lost his life to “a drowning accident at home,” Granger’s rep reportedly told People. “I have to deliver unthinkable news. We’ve lost our youngest son, River Kelly Smith. Following a tragic accident, and despite doctor’s best efforts, he was unable to be revived,” the father of three wrote on Instagram. Granger then announced that he and his wife, Amber Bartlett, 37, decided to donate their child’s organs to give other children “a second chance at life,” but wrote that the family is absolutely “devastated and heartbroken.”
Fellow country stars like Kane Brown, Jason Aldean, Maren Morris, Dan + Shay and Lauren Alaina all rallied together to show their support in Granger’s comments section, a reflection on the impact that Granger has left in the country music world. Here’s what you should know about the talented father, whom we send our hearts out to today:
1. Granger is most known for the country anthem “Backroad Song.” The hit peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s “Hot Country Songs,” a chart on which five other songs of Granger’s have landed: “If The Boot Fits,” “Happens Like That,” “You’re In It,” “City Boy Stuck” and “Merica.” However, “Backroad Song” (which was Granger’s debut single!) actually reached the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s “Country Airplay” chart.
2. Granger signed a songwriting contract with EMI Music Publishing at just 19 years old. The singer was still a freshman at Texas A&M when he recorded his first album, which caught the attention of EMI Music Publishing. After signing a contract with the big music house, he made the move to Nashville, Tennessee a year later. Granger eventually returned to Texas to finish his degree, but continued to perform, record albums and film music videos. He finally landed his first record deal in 2015, and forth came the album Remington.
3. The country star has performed at the White House three times. Former President George W. Bush even thanked Granger in a speech!
4. His altar ego is Earl Dibbles Jr. In the summer of 2011, Granger assumed the persona of country bumpkin “Earl Dibbles Jr.” for a goofy video that “completely changed the shape of my career,” he wrote on his website. The gag video went viral and therefore promoted Granger’s real music!
5. Granger is a devout family man. The country singer and his wife have welcomed two other children: daughter London, 7, and son Lincoln, 5. Granger often updates his Instagram page with videos of his family, and even went on “a little tour” with his eldest son, which he revealed in a post from the road on June 3.