“I love the whole process of creating music. I get so much from the journey of the idea from a beat, a melody, a chord progression to the beginning bones of instrument parts to the fleshing out of the body of recording and the breathing live performance of the idea. Music is a continuous organic flow that’s just…always. A collection of never-ending stories and conversations about the human condition. What’s not to love?”
Even though they didn’t play instruments, Gregory J. Amani Smith’s parents raised him in a diverse musical environment. Born in Chicago Illinois, he was surrounded by the sounds of his father’s favorites-jazz, blues, funk and the R&B styles of the Motown & Stax/Volt labels. After hearing “Yellow Submarine”, his mother bought him his 1st album-The Beatles/1962-1966 double LP. These sounds formed the base of Greg’s music philosophy-strong melodic structure, creative harmonic arrangements with insatiable rhythms and beats.
When Greg was eight years old, he started playing the alto saxophone. He proceeded to get more musically proficient as he grew-spreading to guitar, bass and singing in various school choruses and barbershop quartets. His father took him to see Sting’s Dream of the Blue Turtles tour. The effect of that concert was life altering. He saw tenor saxophonist Branford Marsalis and immediately decided he wanted to be a professional musician.
Halfway through high school, Greg moved to New Jersey. His new high school provided him with a great selection of music and creative writing courses that expanded all of his creative talents. The summer before his senior year, he attended Boston’s Berklee College of Music summer program. After graduation, he went into the U.S. Army Reserve and played saxophone and bass in the 78th Division Army Band located in Edison, New Jersey. While attending Berklee as an undergraduate student, he switched his primary instrument to bass and studied with renowned bass instructor Ed Friedland.
Greg ended up leaving Berklee and moved to New York City in 1992 to pursue his music career. He performed, recorded and appeared on stage with a variety of musicians like Larry Graham, Mary J. Blige, Big Pun, Kevin Johansen, John Pinamonti, Jim Lampos and Michael McGlone. He became an in demand live and session bassist in the city and on the road. Known for his musical versatility, he even had a business card that stated “All Styles-From Henry Rollins to Sonny Rollins”. He toured up and down the east coast, throughout the American south and northern England. During his time in New York, he was a member of the Black Rock Coalition, the host/producer of Crosstown Traffic on WBAI 99.5FM and was a concert promoter. He also continued studying bass with greats Darnell Jay Starkes and Fima Ephron.
After eight years in New York City, Greg relocated to Austin, Texas where he currently resides. He took a break from his music career to finish a BBA in Accounting and an MBA in Finance at St. Edward’s University. He is also part of the award winning Lounge Geeks website where he is a co-host of the television review podcast-The TV Dudes (yes, he wrote the theme for the podcast). He continues to be an in demand instrumentalist, composer, arranger, songwriter and producer in Austin and beyond-bringing his unique music genre blending skills to visionary original projects and revolutionary artists worldwide.