Sunday, June 18, 2017

Alice Smith at City Winery

During her childhood, raised between Washington, D.C. and a farm in Augusta, Georgia, Alice Smith was raised on a steady flow of gospel, pop, soul and a little go-go. She relocated to New York for college, became involved in the Black Rock Coalition and its Afropunk movement, and released her first album in 2006. Becoming a mother to a baby girl with recording artist Citizen Cope, Smith relocated to Los Angeles, California. Her second and most recent album is 2013's She.

Alice Smith's career has been hindered more than helped by recording contracts that held her music hostage. When she announced at City Winery tonight that she has a new album coming out, the applause and cheers from her fans were thunderous. Smith's set included older songs and newer songs, often delivered with her signature blend of bluesy, jazzy vocals and mid-tempo grooves. Accompanied only by a pianist and occasionally by a harmonizing backup vocalist, the sparse arrangements allowed her vocals to shine brightly. Many of her self-penned songs explored pensive reflections on the usual joys and tribulations of life, and her uncanny four-octave range subtly breathed vivid life into these lyrics. When she reinterpreted Screamin' Jay Hawkins "I Put a Spell on You" and the traditional folk blues song "House of the Rising Sun," she patterned her re-stylings from familiar versions but then injected so much unique phrasing that the troubling story-songs became her own. Despite the trauma she has suffered from music industry puppetry, Smith's talents are too large to stifle.

Visit Alice Smith at