I recently received an e-mail from my friend Guy Brody, a legend in Baton Rouge radio who has been around for decades. He knows a hit-making voice when he hears it.
When I opened my e-mail, there was a photo of a gorgeous young woman named Meleni Smith and a link to one of her music videos on YouTube. There was also a note from Broody, Smith’s publicist, “This is the next big thing; I believe in her,” Brody said.
Broody’s first music gig in radio came when the late, James Brown, the great Godfather of Soul, hired him. He has been in the music industry for over 40 years. Brody has seen some singers rise from obscurity to stardom.
He is convinced that Smith’s time has come, and after listening to a few of her songs, I wouldn’t bet against it.
Her album, My Heart in Focus is filled with songs that are sure to keep you groovin’. Case in point: “Ricochet” is an awesome combination of Smith’s angelic voice and a beat that just makes your head bob before you realize what’s come over you. Trust me when I tell you that this little lady’s sultry voice will capture and suspend your attention. And when you get to the end of the song, you’ll press “repeat.”
Then, there is “Love is My Disease” – a song that everybody who’s ever been in love has experienced or will experience. Singing from the depths of her heart, Smith passionately screams out about the loneliness that one feels when the love of her life is not around. The artist emphatically asks: “How can I ever get used to being without you?” Another stanza goes: ” … I thought love would be my cure, but now it’s my disease, I try to act mature ,but I’m like a baby when you leave …” This song, delivered from the heart, reaches the heart.
In a recent telephone interview, Smith, spoke with me from a studio in Los Angeles and told me a little bit about her music ,and the other artists she’s looked to for inspiration.
She refers to her brand of music as a “hybrid”, adding that she’s “influenced by so many different styles.” Some of these styles include hip hop, jazz, and R&B.
Not being one for revealing her age, Smith, a Milwaukee native who currently resides in New York, said with a chuckle, “I’m all grown up.”
Smith grew up admiring some great vocalists.
“I listened to a lot of Mariah Carey growing up,” she said. “I liked a lot of her tone. I consider her to be a teacher in terms of vocal delivery. I listen to a lot of hip hop, a lot of reggae. I love Sade, Fiona Apple and Lauren Hill.”
Smith released My Heart in Focus in February of 2012 and has received rave reviews. Signed to Columbia Records in 2005, only to not be released, Smith has seen her share of setbacks. Despite these bumps, she’s caught the interest of many notable hit makers, such as Kenneth “Babyface”, Edmonds, Stargate, Cee-lo, and Toby Gad, and has received their priase.
Smith believes accomplishments and setbacks are equally important to an artist’s success and development, contributing to their entire story.
Though Smith’s spirit exudes confidence, her humility can’t go unnoticed.”I am just grateful to be given a gift that I can share with others”, she’s said.
Gad, a producer who has worked with BeyoncÃ© and Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas, has called Smith “a true star, one of the industry’s amazing, hidden secrets.”
For more information about Smith, visit her official website at http://www.myheartinfocus.com. You can also see her videos at http://www.youtube.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MELILOVE and “like” her at https://www.facebook.com/melenismith. To arrange interviews or to book Meleni Smith for events, contact Guy Brody at (225) 413-9277.