The first-ever FoundFest took over Cochrane this weekend. Numerous performers and speakers took the stage over the three-day event to share stories, music and their journey with mental health.

Saturday night featured country music superstar Dallas Smith.

He began the night detailing his life in music. Starting with leading the rock band Default and his eventual jump to country music. 


“I'd be warming up in the back of the bus, singing along to Keith Urban records, and then going out and playing shows with the Default guys.”

“I'm in a band, doing what I love, playing in arenas with the band and big crowds, It should have been the best time but I was really miserable. I was unhappy at that time. It's like the music business has its perks and stuff, but if you're not into the art and into what you're putting out, you don't necessarily believe in it. It just doesn't inspire you. It's not a good place to be.”

“One night in Montreal, great crowd, great show. But off stage, I was in the back of the bus and like this is not for me,  It was at that moment on the bus, I sent the text message to Joey. Just saying, Country record? It was like me saying I'm ready and two weeks later, we were down in Nashville writing.”

Smith made the jump to country music and hasn’t looked back. With five studio albums and several number-one hit singles, he has become one of the biggest Canadian country music artists ever.

But with all the fame and success, Smith was open to sharing his mental health struggles with the intimate crowd.

He says he has had stages of anxiety and depression throughout his life.

“With the Default stuff, it didn't really show, the anxiety a little bit, but the depression stuff really wasn't there because I was 20-something years old and on a tour bus. Seeing it was just too much good stuff happening for I was in a good place then. But as the Default stuff sort of went down and we had really some bad circumstances happen with record labels and things it was a nightmare. it's like, really dark times.”

In 2020, Smith founded Lifted, a non-profit organization to raise funds and gain community support towards destigmatizing mental health issues and championing local organizations to offer and provide assistance and resources to anyone in need.

FoundFest also featured speakers such as Vivek Shraya, Julie Van Rosendaal,and Joshua Whitehead.