Veteran producer, Willie Lindo combined Karen Smith’s personality and her vocal styling and the result, he said, inspired Rush, the title to the songstress’ new album.
Launched officially three weeks ago at the St Hugh’s High School’s ‘Swansation’ in South Florida, Lindo, who described Smith as an excellent singer, said her personality shines through her music.
This, he said, radiated several nights in the studio he spent recording the artist who has earned the reputation of ‘Jamaica’s most versatile entertainer’. This is Smith’s third album, and of the 12 songs released, two are originals, the others are all-time favorites.
The originals, Don’t Let the Children Cry and Something in the Water, are both written and produced by Lindo, who has his name emblazoned on the Discography, depicting the work of the likes of the late prince of reggae, Dennis Brown.
“It was hard work. Even when I wanted to duck out because I was tired, she wouldn’t allow it,” Lindo quipped, as he spoke of the multi-award-winning artist, who has won the Jamaica Music Industry Award (JAMI) for Jazz and Cabaret an unprecedented nine times.
Smith beamed with pride as she listened to the praises being heaped on her. Her mom, Barbara Smith, and her husband, Jackie Jackson, two of her biggest supporters, and other members of her family stood in the audience.
So were the women of St Hugh’s, who Smith said were her first audience.
“When I was in second form, when I first got on the stage, everybody could see my knees knocking, because I was so nervous,” she reminisced, adding that the link with St Hugh’s will forever remain.
Her music teachers, Lloyd Hall, Geoffrey Shields and Esther Pilgrim, she said, laid a foundation. however, she never realized at the time what was happening.
“Now I can see in hindsight that it was my foundation that was being laid at the moment.”
Outside of the two original songs, the others are older love songs with powerful lyrical content.
“The older songs have a way of conveying an emotion that is timeless, chorus is always important, and the singalong quality of a song. Songs such as I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself tell a story,” said Smith.
Telling stories through music is something Smith’s mother knows well, and as the person tasked with introducing her daughter to the St Hugh’s ‘Swansation’ audience, she admitted not being able to stop her daughter from giving up a job in the financial sector to embark on singing.
Smith, an active educator at the time, was ridiculed by friends and acquaintances who felt she had wasted good money sending her daughter to the prestigious Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, where she attained a degree in marketing and management, only to have her become a cabaret performer in the tourism sector.
“While in banking, she would always be complaining, especially if she couldn’t balance and she had a gig,” quipped Smith.
She also lauded her daughter’s husband and his influence on her success. “Through Jackie’s influence, Karen became the voice of many advertising jingles.”
Smith is excited and anxious to see where the album will go.
“I am always very optimistic, possibly a tour in support of the album, I have never done that,” she said.
What she does know is that it was a privilege to work with the veteran producer and his son, Kashief.
“They brought such great work ethic and professionalism to the project,” she concluded.