Today: Jul 16, 2024

SCSU Artist Profile: Religion and family, the influence behind senior’s music

JON MORENO — Arts & Entertainment Editor

Joshua L. Smith, a senior music major, was raised in the church and his music is heavily influenced by his religious beliefs. He plays the piano, keyboard, drums, and organ and it all started at the mere age of three. Now the president of the SCSU Drum Line, Smith says record deal or not, music is a key part of his life and will continue to be for a very long time. After Southern, Smith says he plans to attend grad school and to continue making music.

Q. Let’s start with the basics. What’s your major, year, and what separates you from other musicians?

A. I’m a music major. I’m a senior. What separates me from other musicians is my smooth style of playing, whether it’s on piano or on drums. Also, I try to be musically versatile in my playing so that I always have new ideas to practice, play, or record.

Q. How did it all start for you? What was the first moment that you realized music is your passion and what made you pursue it to this point?

A. Music has been a part of my life for almost as long as I’ve been living. I’ve always had an ear for music. I started playing the drum set in church when I was three years old and I’ve been a drummer ever since then. I also started singing in the junior choir at my church when I was about maybe six or seven years old. I was taking piano lessons as a kid too but that didn’t last very long. I don’t even remember much about that. When I got to high school, I joined the school band where I played the snare drum and the quint/quad drum. I had a wonderful music teacher as a director who helped me to experience music in a new way. What I thought was just drumming turned into something totally different in my hearing. He helped to turn my drumming into music. My ears were getting so much better that I was able to hear the wind players playing the wrong notes. I also began to listen to songs I’ve been listening to and hear things in the recording I’ve never heard before. During my high school years, my mother became a pastor and I was appointed to sing for the church. Eventually, I started to play a little of something on the keyboard. I started to record music in the best way I can so my cousin and I can sing along to the track. While doing all of this, I was teaching myself to play the keyboard by ear. I am now the president and captain of the SCSU drum line. So at this point of my life, I play drums, piano, keyboard, a bit of the organ, and I sing.

Q. Who are some of your favorite artists and how have they influenced you musically or personally?

A. My favorite R&B artist is Usher Raymond. I’m not sure when he became my favorite artist, but I remember when he was doing his Truth Tour in 2004 and my uncle had a ticket for me to go so I accepted the offer. Usher’s my favorite because he knows how to put on a show, even though it’s mostly for the ladies. In addition to that, he’s a great singer, dancer, and performer. What I really paid attention to at the concert was the live band. That was probably my first time experiencing live music like that. Usher has great, talented and gifted people working with him. He has some of the best producers in the music industry and the musicians in his live band are just simply amazing. By the end of my high school years, I started researching more of the people behind the scenes who help make that beautiful music.

Q. Where would you like to take the music you do? Are you a solo artist or part of a band or group? Are you trying to get a deal somewhere or is this simply for the passion?

A. I’m not sure where my music is going to take me, but I know that I will always be a part of the church. I will continue to do all of what I do involving music at church. Other than that I’m willing to try just about anything. I don’t really have a band, but I’ve played in church bands and participated in ensembles here at SCSU. I plan to be in the music industry, whether I’m a musician, writer, composer, producer or whatever. At this moment, I’m not looking for a deal. I will always have a passion for music with or without a deal. Right now, I would just like to finish college. After I finish college, I know that everything’s going to work out for my good.

Q. What is your advice to local artists trying to get their music heard or just feel discouraged sometimes? What do you do to get yourself out of a rut if you are ever in one, musically?

A. My advice to local artists would be to keep making new music and work on performing live in front of people. A person can sound good in the studio, but you’re really not going to be able to go out and sell your CDs to people who don’t know who you are or what you do. When you perform live, people will come up to you and try to get your music. Also, try getting booked to perform in different areas. You can’t keep performing the same songs for the same people. They will get bored.

Q. What is a way for people to go and listen to your music and do you have any projects you’re currently working on and when can we expect that to be out?

A. I find myself multitasking when it comes to music. I’m never just working on just one track. I’d probably get tired of hearing it and then don’t want to mess with it anymore, so I’m never really in a rut. You work on some now then work on the rest later. As a musician, I need to take breaks every once in a while. It can be tiring.

Q. What is something about you that most people don’t know? It can be music-related or not.

A. One thing that most people probably don’t know about me is that I don’t curse or swear. I’m also a mentor to some of the children in my neighborhood and children from different schools. I don’t want to go around promoting one thing and doing another. I would like for my music to be clean. If I happen to sell instrumentals to another artist, what they do with the instrumental is their business, although I may have to work with them to make the music suitable for them.

Q. If it wasn’t for music, how do you think life would’ve turned out for you? 

A. I know that music is just one of many talents that I have so if I didn’t lean more towards music as a child, I’d probably still be playing sports and be more active than I am now. Math was my favorite subject for a long time, from seventh grade up until about midway through college. So I was actually a math-ed major when I first came to college.

Q. What are your plans once you graduate from Southern?

A. After I get my BA in music, I plan to pursue a Masters degree. I also plan on making a lot more music. I believe that I’ll have more free time. I will probably work with local artists to help them out with my music. I would like to have my own recording studio. There’s nothing like having your own. I’d also probably be playing for more church events.

Q. What is your fondest memory here and what would you like to tell the Southern body for those who don’t know you?

A.  I’m not sure what my fondest memory here is. If I had to choose one, I would say it was the spring break concert when N.E.R.D performed. It was another great musical experience for me. It’s good for students to go check out events that go on around campus. You can meet a lot of great and fun people. Get involved in something. And for those of you who don’t know me, I have a feeling that maybe one day most of you will, even if we don’t have a personal relationship. If you’re into music, especially if you’re a singer or rapper, and you’re looking for some good music, let me know and I’ll do my best to create something nice for you. I also don’t mind meeting new musicians. I’d listen to you or I’d play with you. I’d even record with you.

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