Sy Smith’s “Perfect Love” Takes You to that Perfect Place

This is a time of deep reflection and acknowledgement of things accomplished and things not yet down. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused us all to reconsider what is important to us and look at the things that really brings us joy and fulfillment.

In this time of reflection, music can take us back to a time that was joyful, peaceful, and loving. Particularly music that speaks to the heart, music that arouses in us that need to connect, that need to share, that need to love. Sy Smith’s music does just that!!

Known as the Queen of Underground, Sy Smith always infuses her music with lyrics that speak to the best in all of us, that love that passes all understanding, that love supreme. And with her new song, “Perfect Love,” in collaboration with Rachel Eckroth, Sy Smith speaks about a “Perfect Love,” a love that takes you to a place of euphoric peace and contentment.

Fashion Reverie was granted the privilege to speak to Sy Smith about her life, her endeavors, and her “Perfect Love.”

Fashion Reverie: What is your musical background?

Sy Smith: I started playing piano as a kid. And then I did the chorus thing, county and state choruses. After I finished high school, my mom let me play keyboards for an all-girl, go-go band. While I was at Howard University, I joined an acapella group called In Time.

I was exploring lots of musical genres and expressions. And it wasn’t until I came to Los Angeles and started singing background for whole lot of top musical artists did I begin to discover what my musical path would be.

FR: Who are your musical influences?

Sy Smith: Easily Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, and for people who know my music, you can hear a lot of brass instrumental influences. Growing up I loved bands that had a strong horn section—Cameo, Earth, Wind and Fire. I was also influenced by Patrice Rushen.

FR: How would you describe your musical style?

Sy Smith: My musical style is all those things that kind of make up black music. Lyrically, I am a person who loves language and vernacular. If someone sits down and listens to my lyrics, you can tell that I am a writer at heart. And that might mean that my music is influenced by Toni Morrison or Octavia Butler, and any of the writers that I love.

FR: When I listen to your sound it is a fusion of many things, a musical hybrid. For me, your sound is reminiscent of Minnie Riperton.

Sy Smith: You are right, my musical style does harken back to some of the female singers of the late 1960s and early 70s that fused their music with a lot of different influences. I do try to remain true to myself because I also have a story to tell.

FR: Sy Smith, you have been described as the “Queen of Underground Soul. How did you acquire that moniker?

Sy Smith: About twelve years ago at a conference someone use that name to describe me. The person was referring to the fact that at the time I was one of the few musical artists that was doing everything myself—booking my own gigs, running my own label—and doing everything well. I was making a solid living from my music and didn’t need to have a day job.

Folks were kind of shocked that I could create underground music, make a living from it without a machine behind me. I was landing my videos on “BET Soul” without having a major financial backer. So, when I was called the “Queen of Underground Soul,” I felt like I could answer to that.

FR: How were you able to accomplish all the things that you’ve accomplished without major financial backing?

Sy Smith: A lot of times it’s about learning how to do a lot of things by yourself. I had to learn how to do graphic design and run my website 15 years ago when I didn’t have anyone or could afford anyone do those things for me. That said; I did have  people in my life that showed me how to do things.  I had to rely on my friends and use the resources around me.

FR: What was the genesis of “Perfect Love”?

Sy Smith: My friend Rachel Eckroth is a keyboarder and producer. We used to tour together. A few years back on the road she asked me to help her finish a song that she was writing. Things happened in both of our lives and we never got around to completing the writing of the song. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we were in quarantine, so we went back to completing the song because there was really nothing else going on.

Anyway, I finished writing the lyrics at home and I recorded the vocals, thinking I was just completing a demo for Rachel. Rachel liked what I had done so much that she felt we should release the song. The next thing I knew, Rachel has the song remixed and mastered. So, we put the song out.

We released the song and then we decided to do a video. Rachel came up with the video concept, and I shot the video at home with my husband. Later Rachel found an animator. So, “Perfect Love” was basically art made during a time of quarantine.

FR: Why the title “Perfect Love”?

Sy Smith: The title came from the hook in the song. Rachel had penned that already, and I felt it was a great title. We could have chosen another title, but I felt “Perfect Love” is what the song is about.  It is about feeling that sensation that puts you in a perfect place, finding that love utopia in your heart.

Rachel Eckroth and Sy Smith

FR: How are you keeping busy during this COVID-19 pandemic with touring on hold?

Sy Smith: In this things-on-hold-time I am doing a lot of recording sessions at home. My husband and I have been recording old school variety shows.  We do them live on Facebook.

FR: You mean singing, dancing, acting, juggling?

Sy Smith: Yes. My husband is a classically trained musician and he sings a little bit. We have a couple of skits that we do, some pre-recorded skits that we will put in the show. My husband is also a filmmaker, so this fits right up his alley.  He is turning these Facebook variety shows into elaborate short films.

FR: Do you expect touring to pick up any time soon?

Sy Smith: Right now, I am speaking to you from the sound check at my show in Charlotte, NC. I have a three-night stint. They had done everything they can do to social distance the customers, reducing capacity drastically, and checking everyone’s temperature.

I have also been doing livestreams where people by tickets for those events. This is done from my house, using a platform called ‘Stages.’ That said; I don’t think we are going to see regular touring resume any time soon or until 2021.

 

 

FR: This is a fashion site, so I must ask you who are your favorite designers?

Sy Smith: Everyone who knows me knows I have a deep love relationship with Gucci. I really like the brand Hanifa and I what she is doing. I love the whole3-D virtual model thing that she is doing. Normally, I go into small boutiques and see what catches my eye.

FR: If you had a wish and could musically collaborate with someone dead or alive who would that be and why?

Sy Smith: I would to collaborate with Prince, particularly the last part of his career where he was getting back into some conscious writing where he was standing up for black people, especially black women.

I would love to get down with Quincy Jones, Greg Phillinganes, and Sting.

Images courtesy of 2R’s Entertainment & Media PR

FR: What’s next for you?

 Sy Smith: I haven’t been able to think about what is next because the COVID-19  pandemic forces you to live in the moment. There is no worry about the future right now. For so many artists right now the immediate is all about how the rent and other living expense are going to be met. My plans for recording in album have been put on the back burner.

I will say this, I have a meeting with an acting agent, so, I may get back into that. When I first arrived in Los Angeles, I did a lot of commercials and was on “Ally McBeal” a few times. All these skits that we are doing live on Facebook has stimulated the acting bug. Despite the pandemic, I am keeping busy and pursuing life and love!!

—William S. Gooch

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