Therese Smith received her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Brown University, Rhode Island. She lived for 10 years in the U.S.A. studying, lecturing, and completing field work in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Rhode Island. Her research was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts (Folk Arts Program), Mississippi Arts Commission (production costs and documentation for the LP Moving the Spirit: Music of Worship in Clear Creek, Mississippi), Charlotte E. Newcombe Foundation, Institute of Intercultural Studies, and Frances E. Harnish Foundation. She has been invited to give seminars and lectures at the universities of Alabama, California, Kentucky, Maine, and Rhode Island, and at the major universities in Ireland.
She served as Hon. Secretary of the Cumann Cheol Táre Éireann / Folk Music Society of Ireland from 1992 to 1997, is co-editor of Éigse Cheol Táre and inaugural Chair of the International Council for Traditional Music Ireland. Her 2004 book publication Let the church Sing! (University of Rochester Press) was nominated for the Alan P. Merriam prize, awarded for the most outstanding English-language monograph published in a given year.