Jo Ann Smith
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Jo Ann Smith

Bartlesville, Oklahoma, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Bartlesville, Oklahoma, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Solo Folk Acoustic





Jo Ann Smith

Review by: Aunt Sukey, Mule Extraordinary (as told to Stew Schneider)

Aunt Sukey, my musical mentor, has made a decision. She feels that she has hidden in the background too long, and has demanded that, as she does the work, she should get the credit. Henceforward, I shall receive no more credit than the simple amanuensis that I am is due. These things happen in the highly charged atmosphere of the performing world. I will try to be gracious about it. What follows are her words, unedited, right from the uh...well... “horse's mouth” wouldn't be correct, but “mule's mouth” doesn't sound right, either. But I digress...

I did not attend the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering the year Jo Ann Smith not so much won the contest as she blew the doors off the thing, but I did carefully listen to recordings. It was clear that the autoharp community had foaled a major talent, and that a CD would shortly follow. I was not wrong in that estimation, though, truly, I underestimated the scope of her ambition. Rather than a “See what I can play on an autoharp, of all things” sort of a recording “Rhythm of the Rain” is an honest, listenable and musical recording of merit far beyond the instrumentation.

She joined with Patricia Webster on bass, Galen Brown and Gerry Lay on guitar, and Jim Harris, mandolin to produce a textured presentation of some very nice music, indeed. Adding to the attractive mix, Patricia Webster, Allan Crowell and Gerry Lay sing lovely harmony. Gerry Lay's beautiful “Cruel Winds of Oklahoma” is particularly well done on all fronts. Those who heard her win in 1999, will be happy to know that her contest pieces, from the astonishing “Blackberry Blossom” to the off-the-wall “Tammy” are here as well, and beautifully set out. For those who think you can't get all those notes in there on an autoharp, a short listen to Shenandoah Falls should convince you that, yes, you can.

The bass is well timed, trotting effortlessly without ever breaking into an undignified gallop. The mandolin and guitar take very credible breaks, and Jo Ann's autoharp moves effortlessly between chops and melody, finding acoustic space in all the right places. This is a CD that needs to be in your collection, autoharp fan or not. It's real, serious, music, done by people with real appreciation of the acoustic form.

I give it two ears up with a whinny.

- Autoharp Quarterly

"Jo Ann Smith Music Critique"

"From the very first track, it is clear that Jo Ann Smith is talented. Her autoharp playing is fast, intricate and gorgeous. She brings a breadth of emotion to her songs and plays them with enough complexity to rival a full band of fiddlers."

CNC Music Productions - CNC Music Productions


When I was a kid I found this crazy looking instrument in my parent’s basement. I was amazed at the many strings and its interesting sound. Indeed it was an autoharp. Jo Ann Smith composes beautiful arrangements that are just as mind-boggling as her eclectic instrument of choice. Showing a true mastery she blends old world classics like “Amazing Grace”, bluegrass like “Shenandoah Falls” and “Old Joe Clark”, and folk on a variety of songs. Joining her on “Rhythm of the Rain” are members of her acoustic troupe Pocket Change. Together they’ve produced one hell of an album.

- J-Sin - Smother.Net


New CD, "Lyrical" released June 1, 2011. Beautifully crafted instrumentals that are timeless, yet contemporary. Accompanied by guitar, mandolin, violin, cello and more, this is an album you'll listen to again and again.

CD, "Rhythm of the Rain", released June 2004. A collection of 15 traditional tunes and songs featuring autoharp, guitar, mandolin and bass. The first cut from this album, "Amazing Grace", was included in volume 20 of the Acoustic Rainbow Radio Sampler and is receiving airplay both in the US and abroad.

"Rhythm of the Rain" was also listed as one of the top 70 albums for the month of February, 2005 on the FolkDJ-L website.



Jo Ann Smith is a three-time Autoharp Champion, having won the competition at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS in both 1999 and 2013, and the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Championship in Newport, PA in 2003. She began her autoharp journey in 1995 with a standard chromatic autoharp. Along the way she developed a love for the pure tones of the diatonic autoharp and has since devoted all of her musical efforts to this particular autoharp hybrid. She owns several autoharps in different keys, some custom-made and others she has converted to diatonic from standard chromatic stock. Jo Ann teaches and performs at festivals throughout the US. For more information or to book Jo Ann for your next event, visit her website at:

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