1) Jazz pianist active since the 1970s
2) Reggae singer
1) Michael Joseph Smith is an American jazz composer and pianist born in born in Tiline, Kentucky. He has worked extensively in Europe and Asia and he resides in Sweden. At the age of 6 years, he gave his first concert of original solo piano music in Nashville, Tennessee. He served in the U.S. Navy and gave lectures and performances in mid-western America while continuing his study of piano technique.
For the next ten years, he studied Electro-acoustic music and moved to Boston and New York - studying medicine and becoming involved with the New England Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School in New York. During this period, he developed the philosophy and notation form of his original music later titled "Geomusic" and composed works with this method for various chamber groups, solo piano, and symphony orchestra.
He embarked on his first European concert tour in 1970, completed his first recordings in Italy and developed an interest in Jazz and Improvisation. He moved to Paris in 1972 and completed concert tours and recordings in Western Europe and America with Steve Lacy, Anthony Braxton and others. From 1975 to 1976 he recorded various albums in Europe and America and toured, mostly solo, to: Poland, East Germany, Hungary, Western Europe, South America and Scandinavia.
He also completed his first recordings with computer and piano in conjunction with Swedish composers Tamas Ungvary and Sten Hanson. In 1977, he was admitted to the Swedish Composers Society and in 1979 he became a member of the International Society for Contemporary Music
He returned to the United States in 1980 as a composer-in-residence in Georgia. There he completed three ballet projects with various contemporary dance ensembles which culminated in world premiers of the works in Atlanta at the Fox Theatre, with the "Stars of American Dance". He has been awarded numerous cultural prizes and stipendium's in Europe and Scandinavia. He has composed scores for various major films and television projects, composed music for 10 major ballet works - mostly in Europe with stagedesign by the worldfamous professor in architecture Dr. Abelardo Gonzalez and choreographer Conny Borg and companies such as the Royal Swedish Ballet - and has released 55 recordings of his own compositions in 17 countries, featuring such eminent artists as Jonas Hellborg, Steve Lacy, Michael Shrive and Danny Gottlieb. A film portrait of his life entitled "In Spiritual Exile" was premiered in Sweden in 1983 and in the United States in 1984 via National Public Television Network (PBS). In addition, two films were just released about Mr. Smith, both entitled "Virtuosi Studies 1 and 2".
In 1986, Mr. Smith entered a research program with the IBM Corporation of Scandinavia and the Roland Synthesizer Corporation, to compose real-time with computer composition software. In five years, he created 600 new works scored for various ensembles. In December 1988, he performed in Atlanta with prominent American artist Paul Chelko and began a second Artist-in-residency program in Atlanta that lasted until 1990. Since that time, Mr. Smith has written for the Tbilisi Chamber Orchestra, The Moscow Philharmonic, various European ensembles, ballet companies worldwide and has performed and premiered pieces in Tbilisi, Moscow, Brussels, Kassel (at Documenta IX), Beijing, Xian, Atlanta, Bordeaux (at Sigma), Sydney Opera House, South Africa TV, Hong Kong etc. Finished 2 film projects in Sweden, hosted a performance series in Southern Sweden.
During 1993, Maestro Smith lectured and performed at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Bowdoin College in Maine, The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, and the Central Conservatories of Music in Beijing and Xian, China, as well as completed three tours to China. He has finished commissions by Musik i Skåne for orchestra and alto saxophone, performed and premiered new compositions at the 100th Olympic Games in Atlanta. Michael Joseph Smith is President and CEO of his own corporations "World Music (U.S.A.), Inc." & "SEATCO, Inc".
Between 1995 and 2004 he was married to Chinese pop superstar Wei Wei. The couple had 3 children.
Michael Smith is a songwriter who has been based in Chicago for many years. Michael was born in New Jersey in 1941 and continues to write, perform, record and tour. Some of his more popular songs are “The Dutchman”, (recorded by Liam Clancy and Steve Goodman), “Last Day of Pompeii”, “Zippy”, “Spoon River” and many others. His songs are both serious and humorous sometimes at the same time.
Michael wrote the incidental music for Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of ”Grapes of Wrath” and performed in the show in Chicago, London and Broadway where the play won 2 Tony awards. He has also written other plays, most notably an autobiographical piece ”Michael, Margaret, Pat & Kate” produced by the Victory Gardens Theatre in 1994, which won 4 Joseph Jefferson awards, Chicago’s equivalent of the Tony awards.
2) Although Linton Kwesi Johnson invented dub poetry and remains the most influential of its practitioners, Michael Smith was another incredibly talented, politically ferocious dub poet who, tragically, lived long enough to release only one record. Born in a rough section of Kingston, Smith grew up in a reggae culture immersed in the toasting riddims of I-Roy and U-Roy, the heavy dub that Lee Perry and King Tubby were churning out, and the political stance of Bob Marley. Smith, who began his career (much like Johnson) as a poet, raged against a Jamaican political machine (be it left or right wing) that seemed to fail the majority of its people. He was also consumed by racism and its impact in the Caribbean and on West Indian emigres. Smith’s poetry reached the ears of Linton Kwesi Johnson and, with help from Dennis Bovell, he brought Smith to England to record an album of dub poetry backed by a fine band that included members of Bovell’s Dub Band and the excellent Afro-Brit reggae group Aswad. Produced by Bovell and LKJ, Smith’s debut, Mi Cyaan Believe It, was a scintillating piece of work, a signal that along with Johnson and Mutabaruka, dub poetry was entering an incredibly fertile period. Smith returned to Jamaica in 1982 only to be gunned down under mysterious circumstances by members of the Jamaican Labour Party. It was alleged that Smith had attacked them, but given the nation’s volatile political history, no one was buying that explanation, and the politically motivated murder of Michael Smith robbed reggae of one of its most eloquent voices of protest.
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