Jocelyn b. Smith: “music is emotion”

Jocelyn b. Smith: 'music is emotion'

When jocelyn B. Smith sings, her voice wraps around the listener like velvet. It sounds sometimes quiet and delicate, then again powerful and radiant. But there is always something comforting about this voice, which has its roots in the gospel.

In the interview with the german press agency in her house in the south of berlin it is no different. "Music is emotion" – the 59-year-old new yorker is convinced of that. As she says it, you would believe her immediately.

For her latest album, "shine ur light," jocelyn B. Smith took two years. It is her most honest work, as the singer confesses. Her companion volker schlott, multi-instrumentalist and already a jazz-grouper in the germany, produced it. "I like my music to be an anchor for people who need support in these times. We no longer have time to reflect, to balance ourselves," says the singer. "We have to find something that brings us closer together".

For this, among other things, smith went back to her roots in queens in new york, recorded with her first bandleader and producer warren mc rae (bass player of nona hendrix, joe cocker, tina turner u.A.) the title "the real thing" on. In the songs on the album the singer goes through all genres. She embeds blues, rock, hip-hop and pop in themes that don’t give her a moment’s peace. In the ballad "what did I do while I was here" she asks the question: where did we get involved and what are we leaving behind for people to remember?? Do we live to live or to destroy??

The pop song "greatest version of who you are" is a hymn to the creativity of the next generation as well. She draws a lot of strength from exchanges with her students, says smith, who teaches as a lecturer at berlin’s SRH university of the popular arts. With them she discusses the role of music in society through reflective composing and against the emptiness of the lyrics. "I tell them: you are the originators with deeply touching messages – you are our future!"

After berlin came jocelyn B. Smith 1984. She quickly became an authority on the cultural scene. At the end of the 1980s, she became the "quasimodo" queen and made the club of the same name one of the top addresses for gospel, jazz, soul and funk. The singer was celebrated for her concerts. The club was her living room for a long time.

But even back then, the artist wanted more: to connect people through her voice. She accepted an invitation to tour germany. At first, she only saw that, compared to new york, there were no homeless people, says jocelyn B. Smith on her journey behind the wall. Later, however, she saw people as young as 12 emptying coarse liquor bottles and people being harassed at her concerts. "We were not supposed to talk to anyone," she recalls. State security was a permanent guest at her concerts – the singer no longer performed in the east.

In the 1990s, countless concerts followed in east and west. The singer worked with artists like till bronner and thomas quasthoff and composers like mikis theodorakis and heiner goebbels. In 1995 she received the jazz award from the international federation of the phonographic industry for her album "blue lights and nylons". She sang in front of guests like desmond tutu and un secretary general kofi annan. At festivals she performed for u.S. Presidents barack obama and bill clinton.

After the attacks of 11. September 2001 jocelyn B. Smith something of a break. At the same time a realization grew in her. The new york native was asked to sing in front of tens of thousands of people at a memorial service in front of the brandenburg gate. She chose the "our father" because it "unquestionably united everyone," and the world-famous "amazing grace".

"I looked into the faces and asked myself: how can i comfort so many people at that moment."The sanger still cries today at this memory. She suddenly felt a huge responsibility, but also a new task – to help people in mourning with her voice, her singing. "A friend of mine once said, ‘jocelyn, you help people find their inner compass,’" says the singer.

In the meantime, smith has given more than 3,000 concerts and is involved in numerous social and cultural projects. Among other things, she founded the movement "shine A light". It should be a ray of hope for young people and adults who are in danger of giving up on themselves. Because of her social commitment, she was honored with the order of merit of the federal republic of germany.