Sarah Smith
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Sarah Smith

London, Ontario, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2012 | SELF | AFM

London, Ontario, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2012
Band Rock Pop




"London Free Press #1 Album 2012"

In another first-class year for London music, it’s time to unveil the honour roll known as The Free Press Top 10 of London albums.

First time No. 1 Sarah Smith is the head of the classy class.

The Free Press Top 10 for 2012 has some familiar faces in new places. There are also several new-to-the-Top 10 artists in a mix of veterans and newer scenesters.

Smith joins previous champs Robbie Antone’s Blues Machine, Raised By Swans, the Karen Schuessler Singers, luddites, the Rizdales, Emm Gryner, the Weekend, Chris Hart, Lara St. John, Chris Robinson and our inaugural winner in 2001, the Two-Minute Miracles.

As always, there are many fine runners-up from other artists with London bases. As in other years, the list could have gone way beyond 10.


Stronger Now

Selected credits: Produced and engineered by Kevin Doyle. Assistant engineers Dajaun Martineau, Matt Snell, Adam Fair, Michael Brown.


Sarah Smith has been part of fine records with the Joys and Popjoy and rawked countless gigs. This time, the singer with the huge voice and enormous soul is the solo star, strongly surrounded by a team led by producer and engineer Kevin Doyle, a multi-Juno winner perfect for this project. Stronger Now is about turning her life off-stage around and Smith and Doyle and company can take a bow for that. Smith’s words and vocals tell how tough a fight it was — and how good it is to have fought it. Helping shape the theme are Smith’s co-writers including Tim Thorney, who is also one of the guitarists. Backup singers are three aces — Kathryn Rose, Neil Donnell and Jenn Kee. Also on hand are allies from the Joys’ days — Mike McKyes and Ken Ross — and crackerjack London-region players Dale Rivard and Blair Heddle. Could be called country. Could be classified as rock. Or roots. Or the home of the 2012 power ballad. Must be called a triumph. - London Free Press - James Reaney

"Sarah Smith turns Aeolian into rip-roaring roadhouse with sold-out concert"

There’s a voice in London that’s distinctive, sweet, versatile, yet full of raspy character. It can tear the roof off a concert hall as easily as it can soothe and entrance during a tender ballad. The voice belongs to Sarah Smith, dynamic lead singer of one of London’s most notable rock acts, The Joys. Smith has recently detached from the mother ship, at least temporarily, to strike out on her own as a solo artist. If her performance this past Friday at London’s Aeolian Hall is any indication, that voice is sure to become familiar to many before long.

The venerable Aeolian was turned into a rip-roaring roadhouse on Friday night for the release party of Sarah Smith’s debut solo album, Stronger Now. Smith and her razor-sharp supporting band, including guitarist Gerry Finn, drummer Bobby Reynolds, and Joys bassist Ken Ross, played a well-turned-out set of original songs, a few covers, and at least one Joys tune that has had its share of radio airplay (“Can’t Feel”). The selection of rollicking rock numbers, acoustic ballads, and bluesy slow-burners was a perfect showcase for Smith’s surprisingly malleable, Pink-meets-Bonnie-Raitt voice. Although the band threatened to drown out Smith’s vocals at key moments during the louder rock tunes, for the most part Smith remained clear and distinct throughout.

And how about that band: guitarist Gerry Finn matched Sarah’s on-stage charisma pound-for-pound, particularly during an excellent solo halfway through the show. Bassist Ken Ross maintained a steady flow and easy rapport with Smith throughout the set. And for a couple of acoustic numbers, drummer Bobby Reynolds stepped out from behind the kit and - with the aid of a strategically-placed microphone - pounded out a supple beat using nothing but a wooden stool and a pair of salt shaker-esque maracas. It was proof that Smith’s talent needs little instrumentation to shine, and a memorable cover of the Pointer Sisters’ “Fire” showed her knack for making any song her own. Her mega-watt stage presence is infectious, and her upbeat personality ensured that the show’s energy never flagged. Despite a couple of minor technical hiccups, which were taken in stride and appropriately laughed off, the show’s sound and acoustics were top-notch.

It was also sold out; over 300 of Sarah’s supporters, friends, family members, and music fans of all stripes showed up to have a good time, much to Smith’s evident delight and surprise. (During a brief intermission, she admitted that the collective emotions of the evening had brought tears to her eyes backstage. “Is my makeup running?” she coyly inquired upon her return.) The enthusiastic audience needed no cajoling to clap and sing along, and most were on their feet by the second-to-last number. A terrific, barn-burning finale sealed the deal, and an encore performance of “Me and Bobby McGee” – during which Sarah charmingly dragged her parents onstage to sing the refrain – had everyone in the house singing along, and more than a few dancing. Sarah Smith’s star quality was undeniably on display Friday night, and we’re sure to see and hear more from this young woman before long. Watch this space.

Darryl Da Silva is a London-based freelance writer and music fan. He can be reached at - - Darryl Da Silva

"Hot Licks: Sarah Smith"

As I was prepping for a photo shoot with Sarah Smith, she took a glance down at her cell phone and casually mentioned, “Oh, I just won a London [Ontario] Music Award for Most Popular Singer-Songwriter.”

With a voice that is often, in fact almost always, compared to Bonnie Raitt, Melissa Etheridge, or Janis Joplin, Smith makes you want to rock out and at the same time recharges your heart and soul. Her intimate cover of “Oh! Darling” by the Beatles is bucket-list worthy. Her own songs reflect the lives around her, and she hopes her shows bring people together, as an extended family. “I guess I just always felt like people who are watching and supporting my shows have become friends. Actually, the only social life I have is at shows, so I want to get to know as many people as I can, and what they’re going through in their lives. I try to listen, and I learn from everyone I come across. It’s kind of like Buddha, or God, or Jesus is in everyone you meet. So I try to listen with an open heart.”

Before her solo career began, she was the lead vocalist with a band called The Joys. Their music was chosen for the Canadian TV series Majority Rules!, was used in the movie Cake (starring Heather Graham), and was also featured on the OUT TV show Chris & John’s Road Trip. She’s recently released two solo albums, Sarah Smith Live and Live B-Sides, which were produced by the award-winning Kevin Doyle, who’s worked with an eclectic list of musicians, including Van Morrison, Andrea Bocelli, Anne Murray, KISS, Yo-Yo Ma, Alannah Myles, Hall and Oates, Glenn Gould, and Michelle Wright. Smith boasts an impressive resume, especially for someone who never realized that music could be a profession until she went to college.

But all it took was one person telling Sarah that she could make a living playing music, and that was it—she went for it. She’s had a full-time career in music for 12 years now. Smith grew up in the small town of Arthur, Ontario (population 2,450), where becoming a professional musician was not an option. “Coming from a farm and living in a town where nobody played music, I didn’t even realize that there was such a thing out there.”

She left Arthur to attend the Royal Military College of Canada, and brought her guitar with her. In order to keep it in her room, she had to take it apart for inspection and lay it on her bed—like you would a pair of underwear, or your army shorts. So dedicated was she to having it there that she put up with this every day, until she somehow realized that the army wasn’t for her and decided to trade in her field jacket for a microphone. Her first step was becoming a regular guest with a band called Thundermug, which gave her the spotlight to perform a few songs. She was hooked. Eventually, Thundermug’s lead singer, Bill Durst, asked Smith to form a new band with him. Together they started Big on Venus, which later became The Joys.

Smith had more than one eye-opener as she began her music career. “Having grown up on a farm, I was very naïve. I had no clue that two people of the same sex could be ‘together.’ When I first started playing music, I found that women were hitting on me—and it was so weird, but awesome at the same time! Eventually, I met my wife, Janene. I guess, when I got married I came out. I have always loved people regardless of their gender—spirits are beyond skin. With Janene, I fell in love with her spirit, and I couldn’t help myself. I just needed to be with this woman for the rest of my life. Both of our parents are very sweet and loving and want nothing but the best for the both of us. We have two beautiful golden retrievers, lots of amazing friends, and a cute little house in London, Ontario. What more do you need in life?”

As one of the hardest working musicians out there, she has a strong business sense, and is smart and practical when it comes to planning for her future. This artist even has a pension. “I finally joined a union. I thought, ‘What am I going to do? When can I retire? Maybe when I’m 65 I won’t be able to play music anymore.’ So I really had to look into it. I joined the union, and they set up a pension package for me, and I have insurance on my equipment, and, you know, I’m totally in society but still being a rebel, right?

“I have big dreams, but understand that in this business you have to practice patience. So I’m just willing to keep writing and playing music—and meeting new people.” Don’t miss Sarah Smith when she’s onstage near you, because the singer-songwriter has plans to build a U.S. tour around SXSW in March 2013. ( - CURVE MAGAZINE - Cheryl Mazak

"Girl Power?"

Remember the days when Rock n’ Roll wasn’t just a boys club? The days when strong, powerful, take no shit women were pouring back the booze and rocking just as hard as the guys? Now the pendulum has swung the opposite direction and there are almost no female “rockers” tearing up stages in 2012; hell, there is almost no more rock n’ roll period! The music Industry is in real trouble right now, and so is society if the only female artists the viewing and listening public are exposed to are artists, and I use that term very loosely, like “Keisha”, Miley Cyrus, Brittney Spears, Katie Perry etc… We need strong female voices, powerful women with their own voices who don’t pander to advertisers and record label profiteers.

The role of women in society has unfortunately always been tenuous at best, but in the music industry, it has always been as dangerous as walking through a minefield. Women who were not strong enough to battle against the strong arming industry executives, within this tumultuous industry got swallowed up and spit out in short order. Luckily, within the Rock n’ Roll landscape, there were a few of these ladies that managed to not only infiltrate the cock waving world of rock, but some even set the bar for the next wave of guys to come along.

June 16th, 1967 the Monterey International Pop Music Festival in Monterey California. A young woman took to the stage for her first public large scale show. Sharing the stage with her over a 3 day span from June 16th through 18th were then somewhat unknown artists in America, Jimmi Hendrix and the Who. That young woman was Janis Joplin and from that day on, with her unforgettable gravelly voice and powerful stage presence Janis became the archetype of what future female artists would strive to become . . . that is until now.

Tits and ass, that seems to be the predominant theme amongst today’s female artists. Sex has always been a huge part of society and the music industry is no different. Using women’s natural assets in order to sell records is nothing new, however, what is new is that there is nothing natural about the way it’s done in this day and age. Women are getting injections of all sorts all over there bodies, they are surgically altering parts of their bodies, they wear wigs, they change the colour of their eyes with coloured eye contacts, they spray tan, they wear a multitude of implants in order to enhance certain features and in most cases, they are lip syncing their way to mega success. They do this because of advertising and greedy unscrupulous back room billionaires, whose only concern is the bottom line. It is not about talent, it is all about marketability and nothing more. These people do not care if these ladies can sing, that can all be doctored in the studio, what they do care about is that they shut up, they get out on those stages and they shake their little asses for profit.

Janis Joplin, Patti Smyth, Deborah Harry, Pat Benetar, Cyndi Lauper, Stevie Knicks, Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Lita Ford, the list goes on and on; all of these women helped to change the musical foundation for women in rock. What these and many other women had to endure in order to build the structure for future female artists almost appears as if it was all for not if we look at what we are being offered in today’s industry. All we see and hear these days is the sexually driven advertising based sludge that is meaningless and void of any real connection to anything or value for the dollar. Yes, these woman used their sex appeal, but they weren’t selling the sex to the degree artists of today do, they were selling the music, the lyrics, the message, the angst and questioning societal norms.

I miss the days of the rock n’ roll chick, the tough, no nonsense woman who could and would kick ass if need be. Much like their hard partying, hard rocking brothers, they liked their music loud and dirty and they didn’t care what society thought of them, or the - Mallard Music - Chris Haystead


Still working on that hot first release.



"...Sarah sings with the passion of Melissa Etheridge, the energy of Bruce Springsteen and the attitude of Pink..."

"......Sarah Smith... a woman that I believe could help to renew the rightful place of the big voice, big personality female rock star...

Most likely you've seen Sarah Smith before. As lead singer for Canadian rock band The Joys she earned international stardom, performed with the likes of Bif Naked, The Trews, Sam Roberts and Bedouin Soundclash. The Joys catapulted themselves all over the map and rode the radio waves across North America.

Now Sarah Smith has gone solo. Proving that her powerhouse vocal talent needs no accompaniment with her newest album Stronger Now, Sarah is killing it on her own!

Stronger Now, her debut solo CD, was produced by Grammy and Juno winning Producer, Kevin Doyle (Alannah Myles, Ann Murray). The positively catchy single, Shine Bright, gained radio play across Canada and helped her to win numerous awards including:

  • 2013 - Best Songwriter at The JRMAs
  • 2012 - Best Singer/Songwriter at The London Music Awards
  • #1 Album of 2012 by The London Free Press.

Sarah just completed her new CD, The Journey, produced in Germany by world-class producer, Pat Anthony (Usher) and is excited to show the world her new sound...

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