What happens when you blend soul, pop, gospel, and folk together? How do you contain the youthfulness of today’s generation and the legitimacy of yesterday’s legacy in one place? How do you describe the ability to combine feel good music with thought provoking, culture-challenging lyrics? When does the authenticity of Philly’s streets meet the tranquil sounds of a careless waterfront haven? It all occurs when you take one listen to Leah Smith. Her sound is one that transcends genres, race, and time, reaching music lovers of all ages. Leah Smith brings back the charismatic charm that good music once possessed.
20-year-old singer/songwriter/musician Leah Smith has a message to get across and does so via various musical stylings. From acoustic melodies, to heavy hitting beats, orchestral compositions to the stripped down, unplugged sound of a sole piano and vocalist, Smith delivers it all. Her voice effortlessly transitions in and out of high octaves, and her music moves from ballads to hip-hop inspired, upbeat tempos with ease.
Smith has always been musically inclined. Hailing from the streets of North Philadelphia she has had a collection of experiences that many don’t experience in a lifetime let alone within the first twenty years of their lives. Smith gave her first vocal solo at the age of 4 and at the age of 9, began singing with the Temple University Program for Gifted Young Musicians. She began recording with the Baltimore based group Sandtown before she was even in a double digit age category, began writing songs at age 11, and attended Philadelphia’s own prestigious Creative and Performing Arts High School. Smith has already toured the United States, Asia, Europe, and Australia and has shared the stage with Grammy Award winning artists such as Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys, and Israel Houghton. At the age of 18, Smith joined Houghton’s group, New Breed and worked with them for a year and a half. While touring with the group she began performing the title track to her new EP entitled “Beautifully Made” which she wrote while still in high school. Audiences from all over the nation and the world were immediately drawn to the song. In the words of Israel Houghton, “Leah is already a legend at the age of 18 years old.”
The eclectic songstress has a long and varied list of favorite singers, songwriters, and producers ranging from Tommy Sims, Israel Houghton, Aaron Lindsey, and Shane and Shane to artists like Joni Mitchell, Amel Larrieux, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys, Donnie, Brooke Fraser, Chris Rice, The Police, Lisa McClendon, Kirk Franklin, DC Talk, India Arie, Musiq Soulchild, and the list goes on. Smith finds her inspiration not only from these artistic greats but also from a compelling desire she has within to counteract the negative messages that today’s popular music portrays. In her own words Smith says, “ I want a life-giving message of truth to be presented to people. I see deficit and degradation and want to respond! Having a lot of money, or having fame, possessions, the right friends, a great lover, a high level of achievement or success has never made one single person in all of history truly satisfied. No one has ever had continuous and prolonged joy and satisfaction in any of these things. It's not reality. Yet we turn on our radios, our TVs, and the Internet, and this nonsense is what is pumped forever into our hearts. Artists bragging about their stuff, artists flaunting their bodies, and more-than-subtly encouraging the audience to buy into parading their sexuality to experience true joy and freedom. It’s all lies and emptiness. Artists taking pride in what they assume to be their success but what is in God's eyes foolishness. This is what inspires me to do my music and to spread the message of truth to all people.”
But don’t mistake her commitment to changing the status quo as a disconnect from reality. Smith has the ability to bring together people from all walks of life and sees her music as a uniting tool. Her lyrics express God’s love for all people. She feels a strong connection to young women and desires to address issues of self-image in her songs.Additionally, Smith has a passion for spreading the message of her music to global audiences. Smith is currently working on her E.P., which will be released September 8. The greatest message that Smith hopes to convey through her music to all audiences is that “real, living hope is accessible to all.”
Smith has been compared to artists such as Mariah Carey, India Arie, Beyonce, and Alicia Keys, but Smith has a sound all her own. So what do you get when you blend soul, pop, gospel, and folk music together? In the words of Leah Smith you get “SoGoPopFo Fusion.” What exactly is that you may ask? Well you have to listen to Smith’s music to find out, because right now it’s a genre of music that is all her own.