Michael Kent Smith
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Michael Kent Smith

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


Michael Kent Smith offers us his guitar, an entity tied up with the history of the troubadors and the voice of nature. With his guitar, Smith weaves webs of harmonies and melodies with a universal yet personal seal capable of converting art into an acoustical bridge to other dimensions.

- F. Fernando Ruiz-Torres, El Buscador - El Buscador, October 2004


Michael Kent Smith combines his artistic and musical abilities at Funky Java, where he will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday May 22. His paintings are on display at the Funky Java through May 30.
What came first, art or music? "The art. When I was a kid I would draw and paint like crazy. When I discovered music I dropped the art like a hot potato."
How did you get started? "I started playing guitar when I was 14. I got four lessons free with the price of the guitar but they were sort of a disaster. After that I taught myself. I'd play records over and over again until I picked it up."
Michael Kent Smith combines his artistic and musical abilities at Funky Java, where he will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday May 22. His paintings are on display at the Funky Java through May 30. (Doings photo by Scott Hardesty)

Where did you study your craft? "My degree is in music, from Elmhurst College. My principal focus was composition. Guitar was my secondary focus. I didn't study any art as a teen-ager, but I did wind up taking classes at College of DuPage later. Nobody told me it was supposed to be hard, I started drawing as a kid and just kept going."
What's next? "I got back a month ago from three weeks in Spain studying flamenco music. I'm in the process of working on my second CD which will be a mix of flamenco and jazz."

What do painting and music have in common? "Art and music can be understood globally. They're both non-verbal forms of communication."
How would you describe your art? "It's got two branches. One is realist. You could almost call them portraits, but I use a human being so you can look at it and see the commonality amongst all human beings in it. The other is more abstract and uses symbolism. Things that are charged with meaning, but I leave it up to the viewer to find that meaning."
What has been your biggest break? "There hasn't been one big break. It's a combination of small breaks, of little coincidences."
What work inspired you to return to art? "Marc Chagall, I saw a book of his stained glass windows. I could always draw very accurately. Then I saw Marc Chagall. It wasn't about how real or accurate it was. It opened my mind to the fact that art could be so much more."
What would you offer a young artist or musician starting out? "You have to do it because you love it, and if you love it, you have to do it."
What do you hope to accomplish with your art and music? "I hope what I do is of benefit to the world, that I inspire someone. I want to contribute to the global society."

- By Sandy Illian Bosch


- The Doings


Discography

Beauty Without Warning (2005)
After the Harvest (2002)

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Michael Kent Smith is a composer who uses modern as well as traditional and folk instruments, performing on them and taping the various strands together into vivid, shimmering music. Smith has toured Europe and Mexico and performs frequently around the United States with concerts at such notable venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., the Chicago Cultural Center, the International Festival of World Music in Mexico City and the International Guitar Festival in Zihuatanejo.

He earned a Bachelor of Music from Elmhurst College and has studied classical guitar with Paul Herrmann, fingerstyle guitar with Martin Simpson, jazz improvisation with Richard Medel, composition with Howard Krueger and flamenco with Manuel Lozano in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. He was the principal composer in Pong Unit, the ensemble fronted by poet Marc Smith, inventor of the Poetry Slam. In addition Michael Kent Smith has won the Outstanding Soloist award at the prestigious Midwest Jazz Festival and was voted Chicago’s Best Guitarist in 1989. He has released two CDs, “After the Harvest” in 2002 and “Beauty Without Warning” in 2005.