Jan Smith
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Jan Smith

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The best kept secret in music


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· Jan Smith (1978) Jan Smith
· Anima Rising (EP) (1980) Anima Rising
· Tsunami-Tidal Wave (EP) (1983) The Pedestrians
· Range Rockin’ (1991) Jan Smith & The Eclectic Cowboys.
· Rain (1994) Smith and Davis
· Nonstop Thrill (1996) The Jan Band
· Surrender (2002) Jan Smith


Feeling a bit camera shy


Renowned Producer Jan Smith Gains Worldwide Recognition for Her ‘Vocal Boot Camp’ With
The Music Industry’s Top Recording Artists

Esteemed vocal coach/producer Jan Smith is usually content allowing her clients to bask in the glory of television appearances, Grammy awards, and platinum records; however, with the recent broadcast of the popular MTV program Duets, viewers discovered why superstars like Usher, Rob Thomas (Matchbox 20), and India.Arie have flocked to Smith’s Atlanta studio and why this ATL native, known affectionately as “Mama Jan” deserves a little bit of the spotlight herself.

In the debut episode of the series, Usher selects fan and aspiring singer LaTriece to record a duet version of his hit song “U Remind Me.” After being surprised by an MTV camera crew at her house, she is soon whisked away on a plane to Atlanta and into the studios of vocal producer/coach Smith, who is one of the few vocal producers ever credited on multi-platinum albums. Renowned in the music industry for teaching vocalists how to uncover their natural singing ability, Smith treated viewers to a glimpse of the recording process seldom seen by people outside the music industry. With only one day of practice time, Smith accomplished the impossible of helping LaTriece to project her voice, sing on key, overcome stage jitters, and clearly enunciate the song’s lyrics. “It was intense, but intense is what we do best. They brought LaTriece in for ‘boot camp’ and that’s what we delivered,” says Smith, who’s been singing since the age of three. “I believe the outcome spoke to her determination of rising to the occasion of standing next to her favorite singer (Usher) in the booth. Ultimately, that speaks to our work.”

Thanks to her ability to bridge the needs and talents between artists, producers, and record label executives, she has become a major force in the industry, albeit quietly. While many voice coaches have classical, operatic, or Broadway training, Jan Smith is an accomplished rock/blues singer with a staunch background in classical music and a love for the southern gospel roots she grew up with. A lifetime of performing, and over 15 years of recording and producing, place Smith in a unique position in today’s music industry.

Jan Smith Studios, her vocal coaching and artist development facility, has grown from a humble one-room studio to the 4,500 square foot build-out that includes four fellow vocal instructors, a guitar instructor, a choreographer/dance instructor, and a state-of-the-art digital recording and production facility. Established artists such as Rob Thomas of the Grammy-winning, multi-platinum group Matchbox 20, Chilli of TLC, the biggest-selling girl group of all time, Grammy winner and multi-platinum artist, India.Arie, and Will Turpin of the hit group Collective Soul, and aspiring singers from all over frequent the Atlanta studio. “There are approximately 300 students per week that come through Jan Smith Studios,” says Smith. “On a day-to-day basis, I am responsible for supervising any and all of the work that goes on at the studio, in addition to working with my personal clientele. All of the lessons at Jan Smith Studios are tailored specifically for each individual singer, so we work very 'hands on' with each student to insure that they are getting the best instruction for their particular needs. That might involve working on pitch and intervals, breathing and diaphragmatic skills, tone and technique, stylizing a performance, or any other number of things that might be pertinent to an artist's progress. The pace is very intense as time is limited with each student, so the focus of the work is intense as well.”

A former Behavioral Specialist with a degree in psychology, Smith is an expert at coaxing greatness from the often volatile personalities of artists without compromising their artistic identities. Producers value her technical skill in the studio and her knowledge of the human voice, and use her ability to translate their ideas and concepts to vocalists. They often credit her for saving otherwise doomed projects. And of course, music executives from Virgin Records, Arista, Sony, EMI, Island/Def Jam Records, Sony, and others have used her consulting services to ensure that they optimize their financial expenditures in recording projects that sometimes run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

A major testament to Smith’s talent can be seen through her association with the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) for whom she serves as a national trustee and a board member for the Atlanta chapter. She also serves on many national committees and charitable endeavors for the Academy.

In addition to her MTV exposure, Smith was recently featured on the cover of CULTURE Magazine, a publication distributed throughout China. The story focuses on Jan Smith Studios, the Grammy Awards, and her involvement in NARAS, and the in-depth interview also finds her