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I Joined “The Ten Tenors” and toured the States, Australia and NZ | JD Smith

JD Smith

“I’m in the most happiest place I could ever be when I’m working on a song” JD SMITH

“So what kind of music do you write?”

“What kind of artist do you want to be?”

“Who do you compare yourself to”?

These are most frequent questions that pop up anytime someone is remotely interested in working with me.

“How many instagram followers do you have?”

“Do you play any instruments? Do you do covers; can you talk to a crowd as well as sing to them?

Seriously!? Does it matter?

Yeah it does, you see, even after years of working as a singer, it seems to have no real value to those who sign artists to their label, why? Cause unless you have thousands of Instagram & twitter followers, or you’ve had your 5 mins of fame on “The Voice” no one is all that interested.

It’s a gigantic money making machine!

And that’s what it feels like as an independent artist sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s also the most rewarding, I get to write my songs and record them the way I want to, I get to work with the musos who I trust and look up to, I also get to take home the little amount of money I make from my gigs without having to pay some label loan off first!

But I also have to frequently annoy my friends & family with gig promo and album promo.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a million instagram followers? One post about a gig and you’d probably sell the night out instantly.

It’s always been about “The love” for what I do, it’s all I’ve ever done for as long as I can remember. It’s all I’ve ever wanted or known how to do. Any money I’ve made from working in shows and on the road has always gone towards making the next record. It’s just what I do! I feel at home in a recording studio, I’m in the most happiest place I could ever be when I’m working on a song or when I’m in a vocal booth laying down the vocals for one of my tracks.

Once you reach a certain age and a baby comes along and your hopes and dreams kinda take a backseat for a moment, “The love” turns into a panic, is this what a have to do forever, post my gigs to my friends & family and hopefully sell out a gig so I can pay off my band or should I do what my dad said to me many years ago and “Get a real job”.

What’s a real job anyway? Shouldn’t we all be doing what we love?

Of course he supports my career 100%.

Should I suck it up and audition for “The voice” and hope that the producers can come up with a great back-story so the viewers stay interested.

All this just to get some support from a label?

My wife and I are “Living the dream” this year some would say, we own a house in Melbourne and we also have a place in Sydney that we are renting out for the year, Our little boy gets his bedroom in the Sydney apartment and he also gets his Melbourne jungle room and we think he already loves this “Tour” life that we are so used to. I have no doubt that we have a little performer on our hands, showbiz runs in his blood, having both parents in the industry, he is used to backstage at theatres and green rooms already!

I auditioned for X-factor a few years ago, I did it after years of folks telling me to “Give it a go”. I made it to bootcamp, didn’t get through after that, I loved the singing aspect, I loved meeting the other artists, but I knew, I just knew that It wasn’t for me.

I had no real story to share apparently, apart from the fact that I had been singing since I could talk. I went straight to a performing arts school out of high school, and moved away from my hometown of Albury to Ballarat and then onto Melbourne. I recorded my first originals album when I was 16, I wrote about what it was like growing up in a country town, about how I felt I didn’t belong there because most of the guys in my school played sports and I used to sit in the music room and write songs and play with a band.

I wrote about smoking (at the age of 12) and that I wasn’t doing it because of peer pressure (I absolutely don’t condone that behavior and I look back now and think how naïve I was).

I wrote about the Murray River where I used to hang with my mates on weekends and then ride home on our pushbikes via the water drains that lead straight to my house in the housing commission area of East Albury.

I wrote about my first girlfriend who I obsessed over after we kissed at the school disco to “Wonderwall” by oasis.

I wrote about my fathers culture, about my grandmother an aboriginal lady from the Wiradjuri tribe and how beautiful she was, not only on the outside but one the kindest most loving human I ever knew.

I wrote about what it was like being bullied everyday at school, being picked on for singing and for having a best friend who was a girl, I’m pretty short and I think that made me an easy target for bullies. I looked like someone who would never fight back, little did those guys know that I had been doing karate for years and I knew how to throw a punch and how to defend myself, I was waiting for the day that one of them would try and lay a hand on me, but it never happened, it was mostly harsh words.

My next album was recorded during uni, I went back to Albury to record it.

I’m sure my total confusion and anger over finding out that I had a half brother after all these years (I was 19 when I found out) played a big part in the writing of that album.

My parents separated just before I went to uni and that tore my world apart at the time. I felt like my whole family was divided, maybe because I left when I was 17 and I never got to really find out how it all affected my sisters and brother. I don’t know if it helped that I moved away and could just put it all behind me, or if it made it worse and “running away” was just an excuse to pretend that I was ok.

When I moved to Melbourne, I found a job at a café in Hawthorn and worked there for the next 2 years as a pastry chef. I never did an apprenticeship,

I learnt everything on the job.

I thought that this is what I would have done if “Singing” didn’t work out for me.

Musicals weren’t something I had a massive desire of doing, I always wanted to be a recording artist, a songwriter, I wanted to be ‘me’ onstage, not a character, musicals were something I really loved and that I thought I could be good at, but they weren’t my biggest passion.

One morning I got ready for work at 5am to get there by 6am, I got on a tram, it was still dark and my work colleague was already on the same tram heading to work as well. He got off the tram and I was walking behind him across a pedestrian crossing just outside the café.

All of sudden I felt my body being lifted into the air, I was thrown into a car windscreen and then about 20 metres in front of the car in the middle of the road. My whole life flashed by me. I tried to stand up but instantly fell down again, I tried to stand up a second time but my back was so ruined that I couldn’t stand.

I was in shock. I was also worried that I would never be able to play guitar again.

My work colleague called my boss and she rushed down to see me. I was laying in the middle of the road in the rain with a blanket over me, of course she thought I had died.

The ambulance had arrived and started cutting off my jacket cause my shoulder had dislocated and there was no other way to get it off, I stayed in hospital for a week, it was all a bit dramatic, like a musical really.

My album “Hurrying Home” was recorded in Melbourne.

I wrote songs about situations and people who I had met over the years, about life, love, friends, war, happiness and about breaking up.

“Sunlight” was my EP I recorded in Sydney while doing “Wicked” the Musical. That song came about with the idea of ‘Positive thinking’, something that I constantly try & strive for, something that sometimes fails me, especially in this cut throat industry that I have chosen to be a part of.

I then recorded my album “Invite Me Places” with Sean Carey in Sydney, It had a couple of songs that were pretty popular “Lisa Marie Presley”- a song that I don’t think I’ll ever sing live again, I’m really not a fan of it haha, “If you want more”, “Baby come back”, and “Break down any door”.

All these stories, yet the producers of the X-factor felt I had nothing to tell and that they should try and come up with a story for me.

I knew that talent shows were not for me.

I’m super lucky that I’ve worked as a singer for so many years, I’ve worked in professional musicals, I’ve toured my own music, I joined “The Ten Tenors” and toured the States and Australia and NZ for 3 years, I’ve collaborated with some extraordinary songwriters and have had the chance to work with some incredible music industry pros, I get to write and record my own songs and after annoying all my friends on my social media pages, I still manage to fill up gigs.

I’m pumped that my first covers album “The Sea Of Tears” was just released on August 1st this year.

This album is a collection of songs by artists and songwriters that have inspired me as a singer over the years.

It’s a little bit country, a little bit pop, a little bit folk and a little bit rock.

The next time someone asks me “What kind of artist do you want to be”,

I’ll say “Listen to this album, I wanna be the kind of artist that can sing anything”.

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