Multi-talented Jo Jo Smith is a national music treasure who is likened to artists such as Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt, Etta James and Norah Jones.
Not to say Jo Jo sounds like them; Jo Jo sounds like Jo Jo but, like them, she certainly delivers on many levels, vocally and lyrically, with uniqueness in sound and composition.
She returns to her one-time home in the Byron Shire to launch her new album Standing in the Lovelight.
There is something really indescribable about the quality of your voice. I guess you could say it makes you feel good. What are the voices that have the same effect for you?
Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Donny Hathaway, Carl Pannozo, Roberta Flack, Phoebe Snow, Peter Cupples… so many.
I feel weightless and in touch with my spirit, very Mullum / Byron Bay!
Why do you think we as humans dwell so much on writing, talking, singing, painting and cartharting about love? Shouldn’t we have worked it out by now?!
As Stevie Wonder wrote way back, ‘Love’s in Need Of Love Today’. Real love is hard to find and good to share. Can’t ever have too much of it.
Who are the people in your life who have been pivotal during your musical journey?
Again so many. It won’t be easy to keep this answer short. Stevie Wonder’s music lives in my top pocket. Hence left breast larger than the other. My brother Doug A Smith. Greg Lyon, Glen Suckling, Russell Smith, David Ades, Steve Russell, Dave Sanders, Jim Kelly, Steve Grieve, David Jones, Scotty Hills, Kirk Lorange, Leigh Carriage, Liz Lord, Leigh James, Cheryl Black, and so many more. All of these beautiful musicians and singers have been pivotal in my musical journey; they are my Love Lights.
You were a close friend and also musical associate of David Ades – what was it about his playing that resonated with your approach to music?
David (Flottie as I called him) played with such freedom and awesome musicality, always reaching heights that amazed me. I think of him so often and smile.
Tell me about your new album Standing in the Lovelight.
– what is the feel of the songs? What stories do they tell?
In shortStanding in the Lovelight was written for all of the great musicians and singers I have worked with over many years. There are songs about acceptance, my deep love for music, hope, peace, grief and miracles. Don’t be Blue was written for my beautiful Flottie David Ades. The flavours are blues, funk, country, soul.
What did you set out to achieve in the recording process?
A well-produced album. Good arrangements and a radio-friendly album. Jim Kelly took these songs, arranged and produced them. Jim and the band gave the bones of my songs life and body beyond my imagination.
What is the hardest aspect of recording?
Getting the funds together for a start, hence thank you to all my Pozible supporters. Yes, finding the right songs that blend is a trick. I had a plan to go through a list of emotions and feelings. Dedications.
What should we expect for your show at the Poinciana?
Expect a great band of musicians: Greg Lyon – bass; Jim Kelly – guitar; Steve Russell, Scotty Hills – drums; Cheryl Black – BVs – equalling great musicianship. Expect emotions to arise, heart to sing, eyes to cry, mouth to laugh, groove to dance to, food to die for, and a real good night out.
Jo Jo Smith gives a very special concert at the Poinciana with full band and support from Louie and Patrick from Potato Potato. Friday from 6pm.
She also plays Tuesday 8 July at the Lismore Workers Club Platinum Lounge and is putting on an intimate evening at the YAC in Byron on Wednesday from 7.30pm for $20 (proceeds go to BYS Street Cruise Program).