Jocelyn B. Smith
Jocelyn B. Smith
Jocelyn began with Classical music training on the piano at the age 5 and by age 13, she became interested in popular music such as R&B, Soul, Funk and Jazz, admiring singers Ella Fitzgerald, John Lee Hooker and B.B. King. Although she sang hymns in Latin at her Catholic church choir, she became more interested in the more emotional Gospel music.
Smith's growing interest in popular music lead to her first experiences as a singer in several bands which include Lenny White, singing on his first solo LP Return to Forever and later touring with him in Europe to promote that release. A year later in 1982, Jocelyn toured with the band Change which opened up for Rick James as he toured the United States. In addition, she toured with The Rolling Stones and along with Ellen Foley, she toured as the opening act for Electric Light Orchestra.
In 1984, after a European tour of a "Tribute To The Platters" had ended in Berlin, Jocelyn decides to stay and live there. Smith started working in Berlin clubs with other bands and at the same time worked on studio projects for various artists such as Falco, Alphaville, and Tangerine Dream. Along with the band Frumpy, she took part in concerts at Potsdamer Platz that celebrated the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Together with Maceo Parker, Eddie Harris and Candy Dulfer, Smith performed as the Quasimodo Allstars in the jazz club, Quasimodo, but after seven years of being part of someone else's projects, Smith decides to begin a solo career.
After several failed attempts with her band The Married Men in obtaining a record label contract, Smith starts her own and names it Blondell Productions after her mother, in which she finances, records, and produces her first album River that is released in 1991. After touring Germany to promote this title, she releases her second one, Born Of Music one year later which contained contemporary jazz tunes interpreted by Smith and accompanied by a 38-piece orchestra. Although this release drew the attention of German music critics, it flopped commercially and after releasing a maxi-single titled Kind Of Feeling in 1993, she decides to look for new management.
In 1994, she signs up with Sony/Columbia and although her new producers warn her that Germany was not the right place for mid-tempo ballads at that time, Smith produces four of them. In 1995, With her new producer Reinhold Heil who had previously worked with successful German artist Nina Hagen, she records Give Me a Man an upbeat dance tune. Although Smith had realized that narrowing her profile and defining what she stood for would help her move ahead, she couldn't quite stick with the strategy and in the same year, sings Circle of Life the German version of the title track to the Disney movie "Lion King" and it is well received in Germany, reaching gold status.
Along with German star Udo Jürgens, in 1996 Smith produces the single Never Give Up however his hallmark was German pop songs which attracted a completely different audience from hers. In the same year, she sings at several classic open air venues in Berlin.
Her first live album, Live In Berlin recorded at the Quasimodo was released in 1997 and she also gives birth to her son Jonathan Noah. In 1998, Her most successful album to date, Blue Light and Nylons is released which contains George Gershwin and Kurt Weill interpretations, accompanied by German arranger and pianist Henning Schmiedt, soprano saxophonist Volker Schlott, and Argentinean percussionist Daniel Gioa. Two years later, Smith appears in a documentary about Kurt Weill which was nominated for the German Jazz Award.
In 1999 Heiner Goebbels the contemporary composer, invited Jocelyn to sing in his work Surrogate Cities. The opus was played live at the Jahrhunderthalle with the Bochum Philharmonic Orchestra. She continues to perform in this production again in Dessau (Germany) in 2001, Edinburgh (UK) in 2002, Brisbane (Australia) in 2003, as well as Luzern (Switzerland) and again in Berlin with The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sir Simon Rattle. In 2005, she opened La Biennale in Venice (Italy) at Teatro La Fenice with Surrogate Cities, followed by performances in Modena and Bologna (Italy), Aarhus (Denmark) and in 2006, Stockholm (Sweden) with The Royal Symphonic Orchestra and Groningen (Netherlands) with The Noord Nederlands Orkest.
In 2000, Smith gives birth to her daughter Josephine and releases Margarita, her album of love songs by Greek songwriter Mikis Theodorakis who was the musical director and conductor of her Blue Light And Nylons release. In 2001, she performs the Hymn Amazing Grace during the mourning demonstration at Berlin´s Brandenburg Gate for the victims and families of 9/11 which appears on her Christmas release My Christmas Experience in December of 2001. Her next release, Back To Soul appears in 2002 and she tours throughout this year.
In March 2004, she produces her second Soul album titled Phenomenal Woman dedicated to Maya Angelou´s classic with guests appearances by Till Brönner and Tony Lakatos. After a concert appearance as an opener for Bobby McFerrin during this year, she begins working on Expressionzz which is released in 2006 and is a DVD/Live CD concentrating on a “Higher Spritual Quality“ of music and text, with poems from the Book Of Psalms taken from the Bible.