When a music listener from Mississippi takes a moment to reflect on the local homegrown talent, the first names that likely come to mind are blues legends such as B.B. King, hip-hop artists like David Banner or even a country singer by the name of Faith Hill. No one ever quite pictures a neosoul artist with a funky groove.
But, we may soon be able to add one to our list.
His music contains a whole combination of musical genres from jazz, soul, gospel, funk and even country. His name is Maurice Smith, and he, too, is from Mississippi. Jackson, in fact.
His presence is the look, style and influence of a musical artist you would expect to find in a place such as New York City. His knowledge and creative influences range from Van Hunt to Prince and Babyface. Yet, contrary to his style, Maurice admits that he grew up in a very strict Christian environment. He became exposed to secular music through an uncle with a very different musical palate than what he'd been used to.
He explains: "Once I started to get older, I would get a hold of some of my uncle's music while visiting my grandparents. Music like Prince, Mint Condition and Fab 5 Freddy."
While combining his musical influences with his own unique sound, Smith describes his eclectic form as simply feel-good music. "My music is basically just real laid back, something you can clean the house to, ride in the car to and relax to," he says. "It isn't thrown at you."
As I was listening to this freshly recorded album entitled "This Is Love," I had to admit that my ears were taken on a virtual sound tour of just about every type of music I had ever listened to. Every track seemed to have a different flare that could appeal to any musical taste. This eclectic sound is something Smith did deliberately. He explains, "I want everybody to be able to listen to my album; it has something on it for everybody that they'll love."
Smith says that coming from a family that has always been musically inclined, he was involved in choir while in school. As time went on, he began to pay serious attention to music after his junior year at Jackson State University. As fate would have it, Smith met a man by the name of Jeray Jackson who had put together a band called Soul Collective. Smith joined the band, and they began performing at the Seven All Arts Café. Smith says that with the help of local musicians such as eZra Brown and Trebor Jennings (who had already paved the way for aspiring musicians like him), it wasn't so difficult to become exposed here at home.
The CD, which became a two-month-long project, has already been reviewed by successful artists such as Anthony Hamilton, who Smith says gave him positive remarks. However, despite some who give him great support, Smith says that he understands there will always be some differences in opinion and criticisms of his music. "What I'm doing is something fresh. I'm not doing regular Southern soul," he says. "I'm trying to do real music with real musical influences, so some don't agree and some are on my side all the way," he says.
Regardless what some may have to say about his music, Maurice Smith is definitely on his way.
Adrienne Hearn is a JFP editorial intern.
I went shopping today and someone mentioned that they read an article about Maurice in the Jackson Free Press. I came home to search for it myself, because I miss grabbing the newspaper. Does Maurice want to follow Anthony Hamilton's or Jesus Christ's footsteps? I read Anthony Hamilton's biography and it also said that he grew up singing in the church, and yes there are others. However, some get to come back and some don't. "Why gain the whole world and lose your soul?"(Matt 16:26, Mark 8:36, Luke 9:25). If God is first in his life then he would do the things that please him, along with being Christ-like. Obviously he is confused, which can also confuse his listeners. My question is "What God does he serve," its not my God! Reading an article about Maurice being raised in the church, according to what he is doing now is sad, it should be the other way around. Advice to Maurice is God has people in the music industry, but watch who you have as your agent and others. If they are not of God, they can't be trusted. The devil don't care who he hurts, as long as he gets the money. Remember "the way is wide that leads to destruction and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life and few there be that find it" (Matt.7:13-14). I could go on and talk about why the devil and other angels got kicked out of heaven, but even he knows.
P.S Wrong decisions we make can affect others. This statement is just common sence.