William Oscar Smith

William Oscar Smith

William Oscar Smith was born in Bartow, Georgia, to William O. and Ida B. Smith on May 2, 1917. In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he received his education in the city schools and was graduated from the Benjamin Franklin High School. After graduating from high school, he entered the Mastbaum Vocational School of Music. Subsequent to attending Mastbaum, Smith matriculated at Lincoln University and in 1937 entered New York University (NYU), New York City. While a student at NYU, Smith, a bassist, gained practical music experience playing with noted persons such as Bessie Smith, Fats Waller, Dizzy Gillespie, and Coleman Hawkins.

Two years after he enrolled in NYU, Smith "thumped" his way into jazz history by playing for the now-classic Coleman Hawkins recording of Body and Soul. In June of 1942, he was graduated from NYU with a Bachelor of Arts degree. Smith continued his academic training, earning a graduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and the Doctor of Philosophy degree form the University of Iowa at Iowa City.

During World War Two, Smith was stationed at Fort Huachucha, Arizona, as band director in the Thirty-seventh Special Services Company, U. S. Army. After his tour of military service ended, he returned to New York and taught at the Seward Park High School.

In 1945, Smith participated in a recording session with Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie. Later in the same year, he moved to Baltimore. The Long Gig of W.O. Smith (1991), when he moved to Baltimore, he "effectively left behind [his] chance to become a big name in jazz." Smith displayed his musical capability at noted spots of entertainment such as the Cotton Club and the Savoy Ballroom. In 1952, William and his family moved to Nashville, where he began his thirty-year tenure on the faculty of Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State University.

Subsequent to joining Tennessee State University's faculty, Smith reportedly became a regular member of the Nashville Symphony, playing in the viola and bass sections. His instructional experience and contact with the city's school system made him painfully aware of students who possessed a desire and aptitude for music but lacked the financial wherewithal to afford private lessons. Through a multicultural gathering of interested community members known as the Wednesday Night Club, which was founded by Smith, he articulated his desire to find a solution to the problem. In 1984, two years after Smith's retirement from Tennessee State University, his vision of a community music school came to fruition. Specifically structured to meet the needs of Nashville's low income students, the W. O. Smith / Nashville Community Music School was the bridge between the city's public schools, where the students' multitude prevented personalized training on a one-to-one ratio, and the Ellair School of Music, a private musical academy where the $300 cost for fifteen weekly half-hour periods (payable in advance) was preclusive for under-privileged persons. The community music academy was established in the inner city at 1416 Edgehill, where it provided seven teaching studios, a waiting room, and office space.

Dr. William Oscar Smith passed away on May 31, 1991. His remains were interred in Woodlawn Cemetery, Nashville.
In Groups:

William Oscar Smith Discography

Instruments & Performance

B-10523 Coleman Hawkins And His Orchestra Coleman Hawkins And His Orchestra - Body And Soul / Fine Dinner Bluebird (3) B-10523 US 1939 Sell This Version
DLP 1055, DLP1055 Coleman Hawkins All Star* Body And Soul Coleman Hawkins All Star* - Coleman Hawkins All Stars(10") His Master's Voice, His Master's Voice DLP 1055, DLP1055 UK 1954 Sell This Version
LJM-1017 Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins - The Hawk In Flight(LP, Comp, Mono) RCA Victor LJM-1017 US 1955 Sell This Version
V 5084, V 5085, DV 5083 Various Body And Soul Various - I Grandi Del Jazz (Comp) Nuova Accademia Disco, Nuova Accademia Disco, Nuova Accademia Disco V 5084, V 5085, DV 5083 Italy 1962 Sell This Version
RD4-45 Various Body And Soul Various - In The Groove With The Kings Of Swing (Comp) Reader's Digest RD4-45 US 1967 Sell This Version
P6 11891 Various Body And Soul Various - The Smithsonian Collection Of Classic Jazz (Comp) Smithsonian Collection P6 11891 US 1973 Sell This Version
FMX1 7325, RC 230 Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins - The Complete Coleman Hawkins - Volume I (1929-1940) "Body And Soul"(LP, Comp, RE) RCA, RCA FMX1 7325, RC 230 France 1976 Sell This Version
NW 274 Various Body And Soul Various - Jive At Five (The Style-Makers Of Jazz 1920s-1940s)(LP, Comp, Mono) New World Records NW 274 US 1976 Sell This Version
SJL 2233 Big Maybelle, Little Esther, Albinia Jones, Miss Rhapsody, Linda Hopkins Big Maybelle, Little Esther, Albinia Jones, Miss Rhapsody, Linda Hopkins - Ladies Sing The Blues: Roots Of Rock 'N' Roll Vol. 5(2xLP, Comp, Gat) Savoy Records SJL 2233 US 1979 Sell This Version
RDIS 105(10) UKHP Various Body And Soul Various - I Re Del Jazz(Box, Comp, Mono, S/Edition + 10xLP, Comp, Mono, S/) Selezione Dal Reader's Digest RDIS 105(10) UKHP Italy 1979 Sell This Version
OM 128/30 Various Body And Soul Various - Jazz(3xLP, Comp + Box) Opus Musicum OM 128/30 Germany 1980 Sell This Version
925 389-1 Quincy Jones Celie's New House / Body And Soul (as Oscar Smith) Quincy Jones - The Color Purple (Original Motion Picture Sound Track) (Album) Qwest Records 925 389-1 Europe 1986 Sell This Version
ND85717 Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins - Body And Soul (Comp) Bluebird (3) ND85717 Europe 1986 Sell This Version
JA-CD 2008 Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins - The Bean(CD, Comp, RM) Editions Atlas, Guilde Internationale Du Disque JA-CD 2008 France 1990 Sell This Version
CDP 7 96581 2 Various Jimmy's Blues (as Oscar Smith) Various - Blue Guitar(CD, Comp) Blue Note CDP 7 96581 2 US 1992 Sell This Version
MCCD 186 Various Body & Soul (as Oscar Smith) Various - Jazzin' The Blues - 18 Cool Jazz Moods(CD, Comp) Music Club MCCD 186 UK 1994 Sell This Version
66617-2 Coleman Hawkins She's Funny That Way (as William O. Smith) and 3 more… Coleman Hawkins - A Retrospective 1929 - 1963(2xCD, Comp) RCA 66617-2 US 1995 Sell This Version
JAZ CD 012 Coleman Hawkins Meet Dr. Foo and 1 more… Coleman Hawkins - 'Body And Soul'(CD, Comp, RM) Orbis JAZ CD 012 Germany 1995 Sell This Version
FA 213 Coleman Hawkins Coleman Hawkins - The Quintessence . New York Camden Londres Paris Chicago 1926 - 1944(2xCD, Comp) Frémeaux & Associés FA 213 France 1995 Sell This Version
Classics 910 Don Byas Albinia's Blues (as Oscar Smith) and 3 more… Don Byas - 1945(CD, Comp) Classics Records Classics 910 France 1996 Sell This Version
C5K 61432 Various Body And Soul Various - Ken Burns Jazz: The Story Of America's Music Columbia, Legacy C5K 61432 US 2000 Sell This Version
DRCD11190 Slim Gaillard & Slam Stewart Slim Gaillard & Slam Stewart - Complete Columbia Master Takes(3xCD, Comp) Definitive Records (2) DRCD11190 Europe 2001 Sell This Version
DRCD11213 Don Byas Evil Gal Blues (as Oscar Smith) Don Byas - Complete American Small Group Recordings(4xCD, Comp) Definitive Records (2) DRCD11213 Spain 2001 Sell This Version
none Dizzy Gillespie Dizzy Gillespie - Odyssey 1945-1952 (Comp) Savoy Jazz none Russia 2002 Sell This Version
R612-08 A2 55633 Various Body And Soul Various - Classic Jazz: The Thirties(2xCD, Comp) Time Life Music, Universal Music Special Markets R612-08 A2 55633 US 2002 Sell This Version