AJ Smith
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AJ Smith

New York City, New York, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Pop

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"AJ Smith Performs at Tysons Corner Center"

The Fresh Artists Concert Series at Tysons Corner Center is really heating up! Although all the concerts are free, there is a limited amount of people that can be on the plaza at one time, so you need to get wristbands to assure entrance to the area. Last Friday’s concert was out of wristbands an hour after the mall opened, so you need to get there early! There were two performers on the marquee that night, AJ Smith & the Apollo as well as Lindsey Stirling.

AJ and his band really got the excitement level up early! He is a very talented musician providing the lead vocals for all the songs while playing the keyboards, guitar, or violin depending on the song. Singing his original compositions with so much energy really brought the crowd into the performance. His songwriting skill was on display giving us songs that are easy on the ear, but not so repetitive that they sound like they were spit out of a sequencer. There were changes in tempo, in counts, and they had nice vocal or instrumental pieces that kept your interest as the songs progressed.

His band also matched his effort with their energy and talent. It can be tough to really keep that level up for an entire set, but this band did it so well. The response from the crowd was amazing! The crowded plaza was clapping, dancing, and singing along by the end of their set. “Dragons in the Sky” has a singable vocal line that everyone was singing by the end! It was a great way to spend a beautiful Friday evening. There will be another concert this Friday, so check the Tysons Corner Center website for details! - Timeline DC


"Smith takes stage at Jammin' Java"

Vienna — Growing up in Herndon, A.J. Smith went to see plenty of shows at Jammin’ Java in Vienna. On Sunday, Aug. 4, the singer-songwriter went to another show at the venue, but this time he was the headliner.

photo
Photo by Alex McVeigh
Singer-songwriter A.J. Smith headlines a show Sunday, Aug. 4 at Jammin’ Java in Vienna.

#“I remember going to see Crash Boom Bang at Jammin’ Java when I was a freshman in high school, and went to a lot of shows after that,” he said. “It’s always exciting to come back, but it’s really exciting to be able to take the stage at Jammin’ Java.”

#Smith, a senior at NYU, last played in Northern Virginia in July 2012, when his band performed at Café Montmartre at Lake Anne. Since then, Smith has revamped his band, adding a keyboardist and backup vocalist, and honed his skills even further.

#“I think I’ve evolved a lot over the last year, I’m focusing much more on good arrangements, and trying to make each song something special,” he said. “I’m trying to make my music more than just a rock band playing in a café.”

#Smith has had some help in his development. He has been working with Glenn Frey, a founding member of The Eagles who taught a songwriting class at NYU.

#“It was amazing to work with him, and he really helped me work some songs out. There was one, ‘If Only You,’ that I was just ready to scrap, but he heard it and told me to keep working, now it’s one of my favorite ones,” he said.

#SMITH was able to open up for The Eagles when they played a benefit concert at New York’s Beacon Theatre. Another one of his songs, “Summertime,” was released in Australia, where it climbed to number three on the club charts.

#He has also had the chance to work with Roseanne Cash, daughter of Johnny Cash, and songwriter Claude Kelly, who has written for artists such as Britney Spears, Bruno Mars and more.

#“Claude gave me some great comments on my songs,” Smith said. “I played him one of my new songs, one I knew had some problems, and he picked them out, and also said he really liked my lyrics.”

photo
Photo by Alex McVeigh
Singer-songwriter A.J. Smith performs with his band at Jammin’ Java Sunday, Aug. 4. Smith is a native of Herndon, and a current student at NYU. He recently released his first EP.

#Smith has been playing music since he was 3, when he began playing piano. Before long, his parents were unable to tell if he was playing songs from his lessons, or songs he made up himself. Soon, he picked up the violin, playing for a few years with the Herndon Methodist Church’s Circuit Riders band. Recently, the violin has been a part of his music once again.

#“I figured it was time to bring it back, and I’ve incorporated it into some new songs,” he said. “Sometimes it’s sort of a softer Celtic-style fiddling, other times it’s hardcore electric violin. I think it adds a really unique vibe.”

#Smith brought out his violin for two songs during the Jammin’ Java show. On “Battle Hymn,” which was written in the aftermath of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he played a slow, mournful melody, while “Jeopardy” let him saw away in a much faster, harder song.

#“It was a fantastic show, really an exploration of a lot of different genres,” said Melissa Herd of Falls Church. “He did some lighter, catchy pop tunes, some heavier stuff and some ballads, all of which sounded great. I liked how he played a few songs with the full band, and then went more acoustic for a while.”

#VERSATILITY is the name of the game for Smith when it comes to performances. During the show he switched from keyboard to acoustic guitar to violin, depending on the song. His songs ran the gamut from hard to soft, fast to slow, soft to loud.

#The same versatility was on display with the band itself during the show. For a few songs, his lead guitarist, keyboardist and backup singer left the stage, leaving him to perform trio-style with drummer Tom Jorgenson and bassist Lloyd Kikoler.

#Darin Zhou of Vienna wasn’t familiar with Smith, but attends Jammin’ Java shows regularly.

#“Shows like this are why I come to random weeknight shows here, because you can find people you otherwise might not hear about,” he said. “I thought the band was great, they had a great presence, and seemed to really connect with the audience, who in turn responded in a really fun way. I’ll definitely be checking them out online later.”

#Smith was named a Carol Bayer Sager Songwriting Scholar and was admitted to NYU’s graduate songwriting and film score program. He was also named Most Influential Student at NYU by the Washington Square News. He released his debut EP in April of this year.

#More information on Smith can be found at www.ajsmithmusic.com. - Connection Newspapers


"Award-winning singer/songwriter comes to Jammin’ Java"

"Last year, Smith was named the 2012 Songwriters Hall of Fame Songwriting Scholar of the Year. After earning a degree from the Steinhardt School at New York University, he was accepted into the Steinhardt’s Master of Songwriting, Film Score, and Music Composition Program as a Carol Bayer Sager Songwriting Scholar.

As an undergrad, he worked with Rosanne Cash and Glenn Frey of The Eagles. He even opened for The Eagles at the Beacon Theatre in New York." - Fairfax Times


"Singer-songwriter A.J. Smith headlines hometown show"

"VERSATILITY is the name of the game for Smith when it comes to performances. During the show he switched from keyboard to acoustic guitar to violin, depending on the song. His songs ran the gamut from hard to soft, fast to slow, soft to loud." - Connection Newspapers


"Songwriter Performs Hometown Show"

"He’s creating music that’s so mature, and speaks to such a large population, because he’s able to convey so many emotions successfully." - The Connection Newspapers


"Songwriter Performs Hometown Show"

"He’s creating music that’s so mature, and speaks to such a large population, because he’s able to convey so many emotions successfully." - The Connection Newspapers


"An Eagle Pushes Students Onto the Stage at the Beacon"

"n advance of the gala, benefiting the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at N.Y.U., [Glenn Frey] met with three students from MPATC 2090, a songwriters’ forum and a core seminar in the university’s new songwriting program. A.J. Smith, a senior majoring in music composition, was ready to shuttle back and forth between his keyboard and his violin." - New York Times


"Release - AJ Smith"

Since their peak-time adaption of Moby’s infamous ‘In This World’ early last year, Victor and Stephan Leicher have been making affirmative progression with their signature hard-hitting synth play. But back in true DubVision fashion for the New Year, the brotherly Dutch duo take on remix duties for frequent Australian collaborators Royaal and Venuto’s new single ‘Summertime’.

Utilizing AJ Smith’s majestic vocal line with slow-burning builds of militant drum work and beautifully orchestrated synths, DubVision’s remix may not bring anything new to the table but makes for yet another solid addition to their back catalogue. - Beat My Day


"Release - AJ Smith"

Since their peak-time adaption of Moby’s infamous ‘In This World’ early last year, Victor and Stephan Leicher have been making affirmative progression with their signature hard-hitting synth play. But back in true DubVision fashion for the New Year, the brotherly Dutch duo take on remix duties for frequent Australian collaborators Royaal and Venuto’s new single ‘Summertime’.

Utilizing AJ Smith’s majestic vocal line with slow-burning builds of militant drum work and beautifully orchestrated synths, DubVision’s remix may not bring anything new to the table but makes for yet another solid addition to their back catalogue. - Beat My Day


"Review - Dragons in the Sky"

New York based singer-songwriter AJ Smith is on the up. In 2012 he was named the Songwriters Hall of Fame and NYU Steinhardt Songwriting Scholar of the Year. In the same year he opened for The Eagles at the Beacon Theatre and The Washington Square News named him the Most Influential Student at NYU. “Dragons In The Sky” is his debut release, a seven-track EP that showcases both his range and his ear for a pop song.

Recorded in a full band setting, “Dragons In The Sky” is a well-rounded collection with a few unexpected twists and turns. The first surprise comes on track one, which swings and struts like a Scissor Sisters cut, with Smith effortlessly hitting the high notes on the chorus. It brings a smile to the face and gets the feet involuntarily stirring – both good things. “Aphrodite” moves just as convincingly, and Smith’s clever wordplay is underpinned by needle-sharp guitar and a rhythm section obviously enjoying itself.

The record’s more introspective passages are equally impressive, and the pairing of “Kings and Crowns” and “If Only You” providing the prime example. The former builds to a thrilling conclusion, with a piano adding colour and depth, and the latter is probably Smith’s finest vocal, and indicates a talent for Coldplay-esque ballads, with added quirkiness. - Leicester Bangs


"AJ Smith"

AJ Smith - Also from New York comes singer songwriter AJ Smith with a band that has the same approach as the last band instrumentally with three voices, although the harmonies are more subtle here. Not a bad thing as Smith has a set of pipes that will rattle the framework. He also has a nice fingerstyle at work on his guitar, which he showed off solo for the first half of his opening cut before the band sped on to build the sound. The songs are attractive with a strong accessibility but enough to chew on if you want to delve into them. The crowd trends young and is quite appreciative and enthusiastic and I see nothing to fault there. Again with a positive personality, good songs, exceptional skills, this is the formula for a fine night out in the clubs. - DC Rock Live


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Already an award-winning songwriter, multi-instrumentalist musician, and off-Broadway performer (What's it All About?), AJ Smith opened for legendary rock band, the Eagles at the Beacon Theatre in New York City in November of 2012. This performance garnered press from the New York Times and Associated Press and helped lead to the success of Smith's New York EP release in April of 2013 to a sold-out crowd at Webster Hall. 

While in the process of recording this debut EP, Smith's club track, "Summertime," a collaborative effort with producers Royaal & Venuto and award-winning songwriter Alex Forbes, was released in Australia and quickly climbed to the top of ARIA's club charts (#3 behind Lana Del Rey's "Summertime Sadness" and Swedish House Mafia's "Don't You Worry Child."). 

Ever since, Smith has not slowed down and headlined his own east coast tour in the summer of 2014 backed by his band The Apollo. His performance experience ranges from opening for The Eagles, Lindsey Stirling, Andy Allo, The Kin, and others in addition to performing at MusikFest, Tysons Corner Plaza, The Kennedy Center, Webster Hall, Mercury Lounge, Arlene's, Rockwood Music Hall, Jammin' Java, and more.

A recipient of the 2013 Carole Bayer Sager Songwriting Scholarship, Smith recently finished his Master's in Songwriting at New York University. Under the guidance of mentors GRAMMY-nominated songwriter Phil Galdston (Vanessa Williams, Celine Dion, Yolanda Adams), multi-platinum producer Barry Eastmond (Anita Baker, Britney Spears, Billy Ocean), GRAMMY-winning songwriter/artist Glenn Frey (The Eagles), GRAMMY-winning songwriter/artist Rosanne Cash ("I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me") and GRAMMY-nominated songwriter/composer/arranger David Wolfert (Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton), Smith has developed his lyrical and melodic writing to, what GRAMMY-winning songwriter Claude Kelly called, "vivid, deep, and intensely emotional" new levels.

AJ Smith is currently in the process of writing and recording new material for release in 2016. He is available for solo and full band bookings. 

Band Members