Interview with Grammy-nominated songwriter Jeanine Smith
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I have been singing solos since preschool. Even as a 3 year old I was always chosen as a soloist in choir. That trend continued through grade school, high school and college. Then one day a young lady named Shamora Crawford told me I had a radio friendly voice while we were attending Clark Atlanta University. That resonated with me deeply and I never forgot that. So after college I went to Philadelphia for the weekend to sing at The Five Spot. A signed artist named Anthony Hamilton walked up to me after I performed outside of the venue and I ended up moving to New York days later without going back to Chicago to get my things. I stayed for 8 years and ended up making a career for myself as a songwriter.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
When I am not playing music, I like to counsel people about their life. I speak to thousands of people and from their scenarios, I write songs. I also use my own life as inspiration but I pretty much channel the energy of the collective when I am not creating music.
How long has Sorority Records been around?
Sorority Records began with the release of a mixtape I had called Rent Money in 2006.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I’m from Chicago, IL. The Chicago sound is soulful and based in gospel. I grew up in church and sang in the best choirs in the world. Chaka Khan, Kanye West, R. Kelly, Common and some of the best singers in the world are from Chicago. I am heavily influenced by soul and gospel music.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
I came up with Sorority Records because I always admired the women who participated in Sororities when I was in college. I never pledged because I was not really socially adept. Once out of school I decided to name my label Sorority Records because it’s a label owned by a woman and my plan was to focus on music for women. Sorority Records means service, culture, sisterhood and longevity.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
My most memorable show was in Christ Church New Zealand. Before the show, I stepped on the balcony of my hotel room and saw a cross in the sky. Then I got on stage and saw people first time react to my music with dancing. I was in awe of how they connected to the beat and showed me love. I still have people in New Zealand that visit my soundcloud and this show was in 2008.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I don’t have a favorite venue but I would love to sing at the Hollywood Bowl. I have never performed there but it sounds like a dream venue.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
My dream show would be Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu and Jodeci.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into the music industry and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
The music industry is a relationship based industry. You biggest opportunities will come from people who know and love you. My advice to my younger self is say yes every time. Just say yes shawty.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself to say yes more.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
My song Baby it Ain’t Over means the most to me because it is timelessly hot. The feelings were real and they speak to the idea of things always moving forward no matter what. It’s about a one sided relationship that I was in but it is also about my relationship with music. My relationship with music will never be over.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most? Baby it ain’t over, Hotline Bling, Moody’s Mood for Love and California are my favorites but Baby it Ain’t Over gets requested the most
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
My creative process involves me becoming absolutely relaxed and open minded. I make sure I don’t judge or censor my thoughts. I get inspired by love, obsession and infatuation. Movies inspire me. Two Can Play that Game is the movie that has inspired me the most. Super Pumped on Showtime now makes me feel a way too.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I like people to feel like I felt when I wrote the song. If I’m in love I want my audience to feel like they are in love. If I am feeling invincible and confident I want my audience to feel the same way. There is no one running theme through my music. It’s all about being authentic with your emotions when they surface. Honesty with yourself results in honesty with others.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
I make sure that everyone on my team knows they are loved and considered first as people worthy of respect. We get past them because genuine love for people can get you through anything.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
My plan for the future is World Domination. I’m an active participant and thought leader in the Metaverse Space. Look out for Girl World Metaverse. The demo for Girl World is located on my linktree: www.linktree.com/sororityrecords