“I stay cool under pressure when others might pop; I cherish tradition yet (I’m) unorthodox, yeah… I’m ruled by the misconstrued god of the sky, consider me wild but I always aim high. I’m unpredictable and so out-of-step, ahead of my time and bent on intellect. I’m a sucka for anything breaking new ground, turned on so much by adventurous sound.” (Lyrics from “Aquarius Rising”)
Sure, you can learn a lot about Sy Smith by reading this bio, but her own lyrics tell a much more colorful and complete story. Her debut CD The Syberspace Social speaks volumes; about her musical background, dreams, determination, sense of humor, not to mention her mastery of musical composition! She picks up synth-laced soul music where Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock left off; experimenting with unique sounds, skillfully uniting hip-hop, R&B, jazz, funk and with elements of dance over ethereal harmonies to make what she calls futuristic soul. Smith takes the listener to a cosmic café where freedom is encouraged and progressive thinking is demanded. Sy’s celestial voice is leads the way, without being self-righteous. Often compared to Diana Ross, Sy has an under-stated talent that summons power when needed but usually serves up a delightful and soulful whimsy rarely heard in today’s urban genres. With titles like “Honeychild”, “Love and Such”, “Bruise”, “dreamtrip” and “Turnstyles” combined with production from James Poyser, Nicolay, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Sy Smith exposes much of who she is and (invites the listener to reveal himself too) on The Syberspace Social.
This concept CD further explores chord progressions, sonic combinations, and witty metaphors; challenging music connoisseurs without going over the laymen’s head. Track 1, “Welcome 2 Syberspace,” does an excellent service introducing this CD, immediately opening the ear to expect the unexpected. “It’s about liberation from rules and anonymity…kinda how we all feel in Syberspace,” says Smith. With her ever-upbeat sense of fusion, her music continues to ignore the stylistic restrictions that can leave soul music stale. The first single “Fa Sho” (produced by Smith and Ali Shaheed Muhammad), takes the straight-ahead jazz of Coltrane and turns it flips it into a head-banging show opener.
Sy Smith has an impressive career. As a much in-demand vocalist, Sy has gained as much respect behind the scenes as she has on stage. Her musicianship has attracted the attention of fellow artists such as Whitney Houston, Macy Gray, Usher, Jamie Foxx, Me’shell N’degeocello, Eric Benét, Ginuwine and Brandy who recruited her to sing background vocals on various television shows and tours. She has appeared many television commercials (e.g. Gap, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola) and regularly sang with Vonda Shepard on the popular FOX television series “Ally McBeal.” In addition, Smith shares the vocal spotlight with legendary singer Al Green performing the title song to the Showtime series "Soul Food." Sy pushed her own boundaries by serving as musical director for BET's spoken word series, “Lyric Café.” Currently, Sy can be seen and heard in latest seasons of FOX’s wildly popular series American Idol.
Born in New York and raised in Washington, DC. And drawing on a wealth of influences from Bach to Sarah Vaughan to Earth, Wind & Fire, Sy was exposed to a diverse musical palette at an early age. She studied classical piano for most of her childhood and early teens, and later found a musical outlet in the school choir.
Smith went on to attend Howard University earning a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Music Therapy. Soon after graduation, Smith’s musical aspirations began to swirl – she joined a local all-female band. With encouragement from fellow musician-friends, she packed up and moved to LA, hoping to get a toehold in the business. Studio sessions and local clubs allowed her to have her voice heard, and luckily, producer/songwriter Sauce (Somethin' For The People, Will Smith) was listening. Sauce summoned her for vocal and writing sessions, pushing her to develop her own skills as a producer; Sy was a quick study!
In addition to her success as a vocalist, Smith is also an accomplished songwriter. In 2001 she was honored by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences with an Emmy nomination in the category of Outstanding Music and Lyrics for writing and performing "Welcome Back (All My Soulmates)" the title track to the HBO Original movie “Dancing in September” starring Isaiah Washington and Nicole Ari Parker. This original tune is an accolade to soulful things of old and the people who remember them. Her career also includes two recent NAACP Theater Award nominations for Best Supporting Female-Local for the musicals Body Language and If You Don’t Believe: A Love Story.
Her film credits include "Do You Only Wanna Dance" (a song Sy co-wrote, performed by Mya in “Havana Nights”). For the short film Black Rose she not only co-writes alongside hit producer Terry Lewis the film’s key performance songs, but also stars in the film as the lead character Rose, a South African recording star. Her voice and writing also attracted the attention of the Brand New Heavies. On their 2003 release "We Won't Stop" Smith is featured on seven tunes, of which she co-wrote four. She is also a featured vocalist on a recent release from Blue Note Records jazz guitarist Ronny Jordan on "Once or Twice," a tune she co-wrote which one critic called an “instant soul classic.”
While Sy eagerly looks forward to hitting the road with her band, she has plenty to keep her busy at home. She has formed Psyko!, Inc. a production company through which she plans to help promote other artists through regular events; the first being “B!tchcraft… a venue for She.” Sy’s calendar is seldom bare as she is constantly called for recording sessions and vocal arranging for jingles and album recordings alike, having recently done commercials for Nissan, Proctor & Gamble and on-the-spot vocal arrangements for Toshi Kubota, Nicolay and Airpushers. Sy’s eclectic sound and unparalleled live performances continue to draw a diverse range of fans (Prince, Sheila E. have been spotted at her shows). After lately completing stints in Hong Kong, Japan (where she co-headlined the Blue Note Tour with Frank McComb), the First Annual Ghana Jazz Festival and the Bermuda Jazz Festival, the Royal Gazette reported, "this pretty young thang's talent was just about as awesome as the stars that night were."
“I’m fascinated with the future unknown, experimental when I get into my zone… This is the story of an Aquarius rising, ain’t it surprising? How’d she get in your head? How’d she get in there?” Lyrics from “Aquarius Rising”.
One listen to her music, and it’s easy to see just how Sy gets into (and stays) in anyone’s head, fa’ sho!