Sy Smith sings back-up on American Idol, but in the realm of independent soul music she’s well-known for standing front and center of her own musical movement. With the release of her third solo effort entitled “Conflict” (Psyko! Records/MDI Distribution), she once again declares the need for music without machines – that is, music without the corporate giants that regulate the markets, determine radio playlists, and control what gets heard (and what doesn’t).
On “Conflict”, Sy has enlisted producers Ant Bell (Jill Scott, Kindred), Ty Macklin (Erykah Badu), Steve Catanzaro (Modern Groove Assembly) and Dre King. An accomplished musician herself, Sy has done much of her own production too, playing keyboards, arranging vocals, and over-seeing the whole project – a beautifully-presented digipak that’s sure to become a collectors’ item. Guest recording artists Wes Felton and Bilal Salaam (both currently on tour with Raheem DeVaughn) are also featured on “Conflict”.
Sy Smith solidified her place in the genre known as underground soul (or indie-soul) with her 2005 critically-acclaimed debut “The Syberspace Social” (named in the top ten CDs of 2005 by The Boston Globe, featured spotlight albums in Billboard Magazine) which features production from Ali Shaheed Muhammad (A Tribe Called Quest, Lucy Pearl), James Poyser (Common, Lauryn Hill) and guest vocals from Anthony Hamilton. She gained further popularity with her 2007 release “Psykosoul Plus” displaying her expertise at arranging and songwriting. Sy’s live DVD “Worship At The Temple” (2007 Bel-Herald Pictures) presents her prowess on stage and easy-going nature off stage.
Her voice is well-known as not only one of the three backing vocalists on American Idol for the past four seasons, but also for her duet with Al Green on the popular TV series “Soul Food”, her role as Aisha on the THQ video game “Saint’s Row” (she was Aisha’s singing and speaking voice) and several nation-wide jingles. As an Emmy-nominated song writer, she has written for many other artists including Carlos Santana, Macy Gray and Me’shell N’degeocello.
After she completes season 7 of American Idol, Sy plans to continue performing live concerts with jazz trumpeter (and heart-throb to many) Chris Botti, with whom she has been a featured soloist since 2006. Upcoming live performances include May 28 (Skinny’s Lounge, Los Angeles), May 31 (The City Theatre, Detroit), and June 1 (Rumba, Chicago). In July 2008, she will also do a weekly residency on Tuesday nights at NYC’s Village Underground. The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra plans to feature Sy in their December 2008 holiday concert series.