Saxophonist * Vocalist *Recording * Artist *
Bennie J. Smith
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Bennie J. Smith
Celebrating 50 Years
Bennie J. Smith is a Danville-Lexington, KY native currently based in Louisville. He is the eldest of 4 born into the union of Bennie and Dolores Smith. He grew up in the West End housing projects of Old Charlotte Court and was raised simultaneously in Danville and Lexington. As an adolescent thru his pre-teen years, he listened to the radio and records of artists such as Jackson 5, Percy Sledge, The Beatles, Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin, Paul Revere & The Raiders and many countless others.
He started out playing the flutaphone in the 4th grade at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Lexington before integration. After the separation and divorce of his parents, his mother moved the family to Danville and as a means to address his aggressions, he learned to play the alto saxophone in the beginning band at Edna L. Toliver Elementary School under the tutelage of Mr. William Gravely. He eventually played in the Bate Junior High School Band under Mr. Boyd. He also played little league football at the 6th Street Park.
By the age of 14, the family relocated back to Lexington and he began playing in the Winburn Junior High School Band under Miss O'Nan. He also resumed his interest in sports and was on the football team playing whatever position there was a slot for. He then started playing with neighborhood musicians Billy Boy McCowan, Skeets Buchannan, Willie Fain and Tilford Wallace. He played his first professional gig at The Pipeline inside a boxing ring and made his first $5.00.
Smith would go on to continue his interests in sports and music. Although he never played in the high school band at Lafayette High School, at the urging of boyhood friend Tommy Walker, he finally settled on the position of defensive back in which he eventually became a starter and lettered his senior year. After being a participant in the Upward Bound program at Kentucky State University, his world was changed forever after witnessing the KSU MARCHING BAND in a Homecoming parade and halftime show at the game. So he auditioned for the band right before graduation and earned a full music scholarship.
Having the opportunity to experience an HBCU sitting up on a hill in Frankfort, KY during this period of his life from the 10th thru 12th grades was very impressionable to say the least. But another life changing experience was about to unfold. After auditioning and earning a 2nd chair alto saxophone position in the KSU Jazz Ensemble under Director David Anderson, Smith witnessed Reggie Calloway, along with Bill Simmons, handpick several members from that group as well as a female vocalist from the KSU Choirs to eventually form the techno-funk hitmaking group...MIDNIGHT STAR!!! Bennie Jerome Smith knew right then which direction he wanted his music career to head into...
As a saxophonist and vocalist, he performs and records instrumentally and vocally. While a member of THE CALCULUS II BAND and THE RAZZ-MA-DAZZ BAND, he had the BLESSED opportunities of being on the same billing with several national recording artists such as: MIDNIGHT STAR; S.O.S. BAND; READY FOR THE WORLD; ROGER TROUTMAN & ZAPP; THE DEELE; INSTANT FUNK BAND; CHOCOLATE MILK BAND; THE BAR-KAYS; SLAVE; EVELYN CHAMPAGNE KING; BOBBI HUMPHREY; CHANGING FACES; ALEXANDER O'NEAL; BRIAN O'NEAL; THE DAZZ BAND; KENANYA ISRAEL fka BAMM DAVIS; and NAJEE.
Bennie J. opened for MORRIS DAY & THE TIME for the EVERYBODY'S FAVORITE BBQ & HOT SAUCE FESTIVAL in Louisville, KY at WATER TOWER PARK on June 4 of this year.
He made his CALI and WEST COAST AREA debut on May 7 with a performance at "A JAZZY BRUNCH" event located at the LINKS at VICTORIA GOLF COURSE in Carson, CA booked by Miss CHERYL JACKSON of CHERYL J. PRODUCTIONS.
BENNY J. opened up for R&B crooner KEITH WASHINGTON during his TEXAS performance debut in Houston on Saturday November 27 in 2021 booked by Miss VERONICA MCCREARY of SOPHISTICATED LADY PRODUCTIONS and sponsored by Miss CHAMAINE JEFFERS of CDL4LIFE.
Additionally, he opened for NORMAN CONNORS on MOTHERS' DAY May 9, 2021, in Louisville, KY. He also opened for ROY AYERS back in 2019 in Downtown Louisville, KY and put together the backup band along with AYERS' music director MARK ADAMS.
BENNY J. also had the BLESSED opportunity to open for the 2016 and 2017 DERBY CITY JAZZ FEST featuring such notable artists as: ALTHEA RENE, MARION MEADOWS, BOB BALDWIN, MAYSA, and URBAN JAZZ COALITION. BENNY J. opened for R&B Artist NORMAN CONNORS and Blues Artist THEODIS EALEY at the 22nd ANNUAL ROOTS & HERITAGE FESTIVAL in Lexington, KY on Friday September 9, 2011.
Bennie J. released his first single since his last 2006 release 16 years ago of "I DON'T WANNA (LOSE YOUR LOVE)" under the BULLISTIC RECORDS label. It is an EARTH WIND & FIRE cover and tribute of "I'LL WRITE A SONG FOR YOU" written by PHILIP BAILEY, AL MCKAY and STEVE BECKMEIER.