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New York City, New York, United States | INDIE

New York City, New York, United States | INDIE
Band R&B Pop


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"I’d Better - Carlton J. Smith – Soulchoonz DLP004"

I’d Better - Carlton J. Smith – Soulchoonz DLP004

Singer, songwriter, producer, actor, Carlton J. Smith has been producing and performing R&B/Soul Revues every month since 2002 at the B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York City. If this 45 it doesn't have enduring appeal then I'll eat my hat. It bumps along at 96 bpm, and despite it's lack of tempo the other things going on here make it work well as a bouncy dancer. Soulchoonz have a real winner on their hands here with this...Carlton’s vocal is great, the songs great ... “it was never about the sex girl, I just wanted to be with you”… and the trumpet hook will embed itself in you head for ever. And don’t ignore the sneaky slinky flip ‘Love’.. it’s a sleeper. Just get out and get one before they all run out.

- Blues & Soul - UK

"Soul Brother New in Shanghai"

Sometimes you are lucky enough to see a live concert and when it’s over, to feel alive and lucky to have seen and heard someone as truly fabulous as Carlton J. Smith and his band, “The Mighty Magnificent”. Currently performing six nights a week at the House of Blues & Jazz on Maoming Lu, Carlton has a knack of making everyone in the audience feel special and blessed.

Maybe it’s the way he selects people in the audience to join him on the stage and gets them to lose their inhibitions and have fun, maybe it’s because he plays soul music that we all know and love, or maybe it’s because he so obviously enjoys entertaining the audience and making people feel good.

This is the second time Carlton has played Shanghai and he loves every moment of it. From the fabric market, where he gets a lot of his stage clothes to the tiny dumpling stalls dotted all over the city to ‘M’ on the Bund and New Heights, he loves It all, and is as impatient to come back as we are to welcome him. Carlton started singing when he was ten years old. His beloved mother was a great fan of James Brown and would take Carlton to see him perform whenever she could. Carlton was hooked. James Brown, and everything he stood for became Carlton’s inspiration. His was the first name Carlton had tattooed on his arm and now there are some twenty black artists engraved on his skin, including Marvin Gage, Curtis Mayfield, Ray Charles, etc. These great musicians and other like them are “heroes” to Carlton. It breaks his heart to see and hear “rap” and “hip hop” performers, who, he feels give black artists’ a bad name. Carlton is one of the those rare breed of people who doesn’t smoke, drink, or do drugs…he is funny, handsome, charming and sensitive guy, who gets his “high” from making people happy!

Carlton admits that he was pleasantly surprised by the welcome he has been given in Shanghai. Having played in the States, Europe and England, China was a very new and slightly scary experience for him, but the audience made up of Chinese and Westerners, love soul, blues, jazz, Rhythm and Blues, and can’t get enough of the act! Many people return again and again to see him and his band perform their energetic, spontaneous and truly inspired show.

Carlton will be back to Shanghai next year…look for him at House of Blues & Jazz.


- China Eastern (Airline Magazine 2006-2007)

"La Dolce Musto (Michael Musto)"

Hustling for a smorgasbord of Supremes classics topped with some peach cobbler and Louis Vuitton soda, I went to CARLTON J. SMITH's Saturday Motown brunch at B.B. King's and never stopped gorging in the name of love.

Smith is a powerhouse who serves up oldies, original tunes, guest stars, audience birthday celebrations, tributes to dead people, conga lines, and everything but cuddling on your lap (though I'm sure that can be arranged).

Carlton J. Smith delivered—and so did the collard greens.

La Dolce Musto (Michael Musto) / The Village Voice / January 2005
The city's top all-around entertainer is self-professed "old-school fool" CARLTON J. SMITH, who's gotten a three-month gig entertaining in China, where he's providing soulful relief and outfit changes. In a ciao-for-now Motown brunch at B.B. King's, Smith paused between powerhouse renditions to teach rhythmless audience members Temptations moves ("So white I could ski on it," he said, keeping our snow motif alive) and dish ASHLEE SIMPSON ("ARETHA FRANKLIN can eat three chickens and still go onstage and sing. She is acid reflux"). While Carlton's away, his friends—like the plus-voiced goddess SHARON QUINN—are holding the fort, and I'll be there eating four chickens. (Two hundred points!)

La Dolce Musto (Michael Musto) / The Village Voice / April 2005
B.B. King's "Motown Brunch" star CARLTON J. SMITH just came back from three months in China and told the crowd, "I want some fake Chinese food again. The real stuff was killing me!"
- The Village Voice


SHANGHAI DAILY (CHINA) 2005 / Almerindo Portfolio
It is 9:15pm on a Sunday evening. There are eight people at the bar in the House of Blues and Jazz and no indication that a major soulster is about to preach. The band, led by guitarist Kevin Chisholm, walks on stage and without fanfare launches straight into the Meters’ “Cissy Strut”. Then, the man himself, Carlton J. Smith, joins them, singing loose, improvised lyrics over the song, which is normally a funky instrumental. By 10pm, the place is jumping and filled to capacity as the legendary Smith, aka Soul Brother Number New, holds court.
A true showman, Smith has played at some of the world’s top blues venues, including B.B. King Blues Club and the Bitter End. He was also cast as James Brown in Barry Levinson’s 1999 film “Liberty Heights” and starred in a Broadway musical with Cyndi Lauper.
Yet Carlton J shows that it’s not just the girls who want to have fun, as he raps with the audience and invites them on stage to join the show, which includes classic soul and originals. “By the end of the night, he’s going to sing to every girl in the place, he’s going to embarrass somebody and everybody is going to be dancing” says mouth-harpist James Patrick, who joins the band during the band during ht second set for some wailing blues. Besides Patrick, there are two guitarists, another harmonica player and a young woman who tears into Prince’s “Kiss”.
While Carlton lets his soul shine, the band keeps pouring on the funk. Drummer Nick Bermelin, Dan Nachimson on keyboards and bassist Dean Zucchero barely crack a smile as they lay down the groove. All of them, including Chisholm, are accomplished soloists and are prone to drawn-out jam sessions during which Smith sings about Shanghai, women, soul and what have you. He could sing about taking out the garbage. As he puts it, “We’re creating music right on the spot and it’s all working.”
- Almerindo Portfolio

"SHANGHAI DAILY (CHINA) / January 28, 2005"

SHANGHAI DAILY (CHINA) / January 28, 2005 / Michele Zhang
Shanghai’s fans are talking about the great soul and blues straight from the heart being presented by American vocalist Carlton J. Smith. Blues from the Soul...vocalist Carlton J. Smith has the names of his musical heroes from the “old school” tattooed on his arms
as evidence of his striving to sing the authentic essence of the blues writes Michele Zhang.
- Michele Zhang

"Village Voice"

Various reviews

Carlton J. Smith
The prince of soul-r&b tributes (James Brown and Sly Stone) takes a break from rehearsing his role of Cyrus in the ew musical Largo to debut new material with his band, the Mighty Magnificents. Expect some duets with partner-in-crime Sharon Quinn and a whole lot of funk in the room.

Tribute to Al Green
There is a movement afoot to get the dictionary to change the definition of “soul” to read simply “Al Green.” Local soulsters, funksters, and rockers, including Carlton J. Smith, Christine Ohlman, Ricky Byrd, etc. will pay homage to the man who took us to the river and dropped us in the water.

Legends of Soul Revue
Actor Carlton J. Smith (James Brown in Barry Levinson’s film “Liberty Heights”) does these tribute shows in his sleep, but you’ll be wide-awake as he and his band the Mighty Magnificents recall the best of said Godfather Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sly, Aretha, and more.

Tribute to Sly & Family Stone
Mutli-talented actor-singer-writer Smith is a wiz at doing these tribute shows. Tonight he takes on the man who, in spite of himself, really started it all…the father of funk rock, Sly Stone. Don’t be scared if someone from onstage, looks at you and says, “Dance, Dance to the Music. Dance, to the fucking music!”

Tribute to Temptations & Supremes
Tonight’s the Mighty Magnificents all-star tribute to Motown’s – The Temptations and The Supremes. Actor Carlton J. Smith (James Brown in Barry Levinson’s film “Liberty Heights”) does these tribute shows in his sleep, but a chance to hear versions of Tempts tunes like “My Girl,” “Ball of Confusion,” “Cloud Nine,” and “Just My Imagination,” “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” is enough reason on its own, and by the way…did I mention the Supremes?

Tribute to Aretha Franklin
Singer-actor Carlton Smith (played James Brown in Barry Levinson’s “Liberty Heights”) has been doing these tribute shows all over town for months now. After taking on the aforementioned Brown, he’s also done Sly Stone, and now he attempts to pay homage to the Queen of Soul herself, Aretha Franklin – with the help of some surprise guests. Always a jumping evening is promised.
- A. Aber

"SonicSoul:Groove& Beats - "Man's Gotta Do""

A man got to do what a man got to do. CJS had to follow the urge to give a certain Tom Waits a very special honor.

Tom Waits!? To your Info (if necessary) - one of the most important / moving/ lasting / singer/songwriter of popular Music history from America who has his home somewhere between Blues, Folk, Rock and who finds his honor now also in the Soul-community. His songs can be found through Rod Stewart in Las Vegas compatible clean-Rock suit. Lastly a short time ago, Southside Johnny dedicated songs to Mr. Waits and pushed it the Rhythm & Blues department.
And now there is CJS, who takes Wait's as the base, remodels the songs, adapt the text, and adapts the sound into a contemporary trend to nostalgie and Retro. So it’s not an Album with Tom Waits songs, but CJS’ soul from what he gets from the Tom Waits originals, with new Music and the understanding for tradition. In short, Smith, who prefers to act as a sort of James Brown from the "now-time" and who corresponding to this comes on stage to a real unfolding, "the SkinnyBone Tree" measures up to the actual Retro-Soul.
Thrilling energizing strong grooves from Soul, Blues, Funk and Rock - realized from a host of capital playful Horn section, Guitarist's, Rhythm player and Background singers, which are acting with an unbelievable power and form from the frontman Carlton. The ground on which he can be between James Brown, Bobby Womack, Al Green, Sly Stone and CJS.
Best entertainment with heart and soul - and also ambition and with the exuberant recommendation to try it "for yourself" (meaning: you must go and listen to this CD for yourself).
- Jörg Michael Schmitt (jms@soulsite.d

"Carlton J. Smith - The Skinnybone Tree"

It's a good thing that Tom Waits is far more gracious to the artists who continually cover his songs than he is to the advertisers who try to put his tunes in commercials. Waits has continually refused to allow advertisers to use his songs to hock their wares. The few companies who tried using a Waits song in their commercials ended up getting sued, and that might explain why you haven't seen Waits' song "Temptation" turn up in a Victoria Secrets ad.
Waits has no problem with people covering his songs, and many artists have remade his work, including Diana Krall, Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart. Soultracks published the review that I wrote of Southside Johnny's Tom Waits tribute album, Grapefruit Moon.  There are at least three reasons that I can think of that makes these songs so attractive. The first is that Waits' lyrics are wonderful. His songs often tell stories about working class people trying to navigate their way through life - a fact that must have been very appealing people like Springsteen in Stewart. Throughout his career, Waits proved that he was unafraid to explore many different styles of music - including some long neglected styles such as tango. That probably made him attractive to someone such as Krall.
All that being said, I'm sure soul singer Carlton J. Smith's name doesn't come to mind when people list artists influenced by Waits. However, considering Smith's background, his attraction to the music of Tom Waits might not be too surprising. Smith has built a large following as a tribute artist who sings the music of soul legends like James Brown and Al Green. Smith said he is attracted to Waits music for the same reason as those other artists.
So, Smith wrote his latest CD, the SkinnyBone Tree, as a tribute to Waits. However, the tribute deviates from those done by other artists in one major way - Smith changed the lyrics and titles. Smith says his rationale is that he believes nobody should sing a Tom Waits song but Waits. Well, we know that nobody can sound like Tom Waits, but I thought Kralls' version of "Temptation" was pretty nice.
At that very least, Smith's decision makes this a different kind of tribute album - one that is both easier and more difficult to review. It's more difficult to review because I'm not just listening to Waits version of "Dead and Lovely," and comparing it to the cover (or vice versa). I have to take these new songs and determine how well Smith did in capturing Waits' insight, satire and hard-edged skepticism while molding these songs to make them recognizable as a Carlton J. Smith song. That judgment really depended on whether Smith's lyrics could stand up to Waits'.
Few lyricists are as capable as Waits, but Smith proves that he is a good songwriter.  Smith proves that he can be a good conversational storyteller on the blues infused "Momma's House," in which he tells his new girlfriend that their relationship has reached a new level - he's taking her to meet the parents.
Smith flips it on the next record, "I'll Be Gone." On this smooth funk tune, Smith sings about how he sensitive, loving and an intense lover between the sheets, but there's a caveat - he'll be gone in the morning.
Songs such as "All Night Long," have that folksy, acoustic groove that one might expect from a Waits song, while "Sins of My Father," definitely has the Waits attitude. Waits often commented on religion - just listen to his song "Chocolate Jesus." "Sins of My Father" is a funky head-nodder in which Smith and God have a quite earthy conversation as Smith tries to bargain with God for his family's redemption. Admittedly, the earthiness of this tune might turn some people off.
All told, the tunes on The SkinnyBone Tree are strong enough to stand up on their own. Many fans won't catch the connection to Waits, but it won't matter. Old Smith fans will enjoy hearing his raspy tenor work these tunes over, and if they are inspired to give Waits a listen, that's all the better. Recommended.
- Chris Rizik-SoulTracks - Tracking the Greatest Soul Music


"The SkinnyBone Tree" - New CD @2009 BMI
Inspired by Tom Waits - R&B/Blues Available on

"Diagram of a Relationship" - CD @2008 BMI
Concept CD consisting of 12 R&B/Soul/Neo-Soul tracks. Available on

“Waiting" - Soulful Reinterpretations - CD ©2006 BMI

"Carlton J. Smith - Live at B.B. Kings" CD @2004 BMI - CD of R&B classics interpreted by Carlton J. Smith from his various Tribute Shows at B.B.King Blues Club & Grill in NYC

Carlton J. Smith “Truth and Soul” - CD @2002 BMI
CD of original R&B and Funk material written, produced and sung by Carlton J. Smith

Solo artist:
Demo CD of original Pop material written by Carlton Smith and produced by Rich Pagano (New Calcutta Studios) ©2001 BMI

The State of Fame featuring Carlton J. Smith
7 song CD of original R&B and Funk material written and produced by Carlton J. Smith ©2001 BMI

Lead vocalist of the Rock'N'Soul band THE THRILL CYCLE:
"Move On" CD Single ©1999 BMI
"The Needy" CD Single ©1999 BMI
"Creatures Of The Net" CD ©1998
"Get Your Swerve On" CD ©1997 BMI
"First Taste Is Free" EP ©1996 BMI
"Honey Come Lately" - Promotional Video

Various Solo Projects:
"U Got Soul" 1997

CD Compilation entitled "Feelin' It" Freeze Records (Freedom Sound Recordings NYC)
"Pleasure" 1996

Vinyl EP (Produce Records UK)
"Pleasure" 1996

CD/Cassette entitled "There's A Movement Underground" (Produce Records UK) (radio-airplay on BBC radio - UK)
"I've Got To Be Strong" 1994 12" Vinyl (Mousetrap Records UK) (radio-airplay on BBC radio - UK)
"Hey You" 1993 Vinyl EP "Sextravaganza" (This is Tribal America) (IRS Records - NYC) CD Compilation entitled "Frederick Jorio Presents Tribal Sextrax" (IRS Records - NYC) (radio airplay)
"Any Love" 1993 12" Vinyl (Produce Records UK)
"I Gotta Be Strong" 1993 12" Vinyl/Cassette Single (Nottus Records - NYC) (radio airplay - NYC)
"Come On Girl" 1993 CD Compilation entitled "Jazz Not Jazz" (Produce Records UK) (radio-airplay on BBC radio - UK)
"Come On Girl" 1992 (Eightball Records - NYC) (radio airplay - NYC)



Singer, songwriter, producer, actor, Carlton J. Smith is often referred to as “Soul Brother Number New” for his hard-charging R&B act. His widely acclaimed R&B/Soul Revue shows are true crowd-pleasers.

Carlton is a very dynamic and exciting performer with a live show that exhibits both his stage presence and high energy from start to finish. A true showman, he performed at some of the world’s top venues (B.B. King Blues Club & Grill NYC, The Blue Note NYC, in Las Vegas, Café Wha, Joe’s Pub, Bowery Ballroom, The Knitting Factory). Also, performing internationally at the House of Blues & Jazz in Shanghai, China (as well as JZ's Jazz Club, Shanghai, China). Delivering soul & blues straight from his heart - show after show, night after night. He performed his brand of R&B, real-school Funk & Soul to Shanghai, China; Zurich, Switzerland; London, England; Hong Kong, China; Helsinki, Finland).

His talent is so widely acclaimed that he was chosen from a casting call of 500 to portray the “Godfather of Soul” James Brown on the silver screen in Barry Levinson’s film “Liberty Heights.” Carlton co-starred opposite Joe Mantegna, Bebe Neuwirth and Adrian Brody. Carlton expanded his horizons into theatre, playing a lead role in an upcoming Broadway musical entitled “Largo” written by the award winning David Henry Hwang (“M. Butterfly” and “Aida”). He plays opposite Cyndi Lauper, Fisher Stephens and Garth Hudson (The Band). Carlton also appears on the TV Soap Opera “As The World Turns.”

Carlton has a few CDs: “Carlton J. Smith Live at B. B. Kings”, “Waiting”, “Diagram Of A Relationship” and his brand new CD “The SkinnyBone Tree”.

Carlton J. Smith always gives 110% of himself on stage and in his productions. His shows are a fabulous showcase of his ability as an artist and a producer.