R&B Singer-Songwriter Stannis Smith Brings Music Lovers Through All ‘Four Seasons’ of Love, Featuring Production from Tiyon ‘TC’ Christian
Written by: Kenneth Ware – April 26th, 2020 7:27pm pst
BHL QUARANTINE MUSIC DISCOVERIES: STANNIS SMITH
In trying times, one thing that can feed the light in us and give us hope is music. AfterBuzz TV proudly presents ‘Quarantine Musical Discoveries.’ These are the inspirational new voices emerging from isolation, cherished voices that get us through. It’s our pleasure to share them with you during this, our most challenging time. Today we’re discovering Stannis Smith.
The year was 1998. R&B ruled the Billboard charts, and rightfully so, according to Billboard’s Top Hot 100 songs of 1998. “Too Close,” a flirty R&B song atop a Chicago-style step dance production performed by Next, took the number one spot while Brandy and Monica exchanged lyrical jabs — thanks to a double-dealing boyfriend — on “The Boy Is Mine,” an updated version of the ‘70s hit “Woman to Woman,” another R&B gem.
In that same year at the iconic Apollo theater in Harlem, Stannis Smith, a sophomore at Morehouse College, stepped into the national spotlight singing Jodeci’s rendition of Stevie Wonder’s soul-stirring “Lately.” His Showtime at the Apollo performance highlighted his creamy vocals homegrown at a Baptist church in Albany, Georgia.
“I’ve always loved singing,” Smith admitted.
Introduced by host Steve Harvey in the packed-to-the-back theater, Smith rubbed the legendary “Tree of Hope,” a longstanding tradition for contestants.
“And I met Kiki Shepard,” Smith said.
He shared the same stage that night with featured performers SWV — aka Sisters With Voices — and a 10-year-old Sammie who appeared during the Apollo Kids segment, one year before his 1999 hit single, “I Like It.”
“I was nervous and scared,” Smith confessed, “but I did my thing.”
He didn’t win Amateur Night, however, a positive comment about his performance from an audience member lifted his spirits when he watched the televised version: “I think he [Smith] was a little nervous, but that guy got talent and he’s going somewhere.”
That same affirmative energy resonated back on campus at Morehouse and around the city of Atlanta. Smith continued to whet his musical skills but “education was priority.” He befriended singer-songwriter Kandi Burruss, founding member of platinum-selling R&B vocal quartet Xscape. In one summer, he co-wrote more than 10 songs with Burruss.
“Kandi has a way of making people around her step their game up because she’s so driven,” Smith explained. “You can’t be around her and not be driven.”
The industry support did not stop with the “Just Kickin’ It” singer. While in college, Smith received early co-signs from industry legends Dallas Austin and Daryl Simmons. He hit the ground running as a songwriter and professional background vocalist. He also signed his first publishing deal thanks to music executive Hiriam Hicks. His love for music continued to grow in the A-T-L, but he was completely turned off by the business dealings behind the scenes in the music industry.
After graduation, Smith accepted a corporate 9-5 gig and relocated to New York City, ready for a change of scenery. He continued to write songs and connect with multiple producers, but he had his eyes on another feat: George Washington University Law School. After a short term in the concrete jungle, Smith packed up and moved to the nation’s capital and eventually became an attorney. Yet, music never left his side. Through the years, he’s graced the stage alongside India Arie, Sharissa, Lathan, Remy Shand, and Prophet Jones as a supporting vocalist.
The year is now 2020. R&B songs no longer rule the top of the Billboard charts, but Smith is eyeing the number one spot. The “Warning Label” singer has full support from his industry friends and collaborators, including lead singer of 702, Kameelah Williams.
“True talent and hard work is a formula today’s industry seems to be lacking,” WIlliams added, “but Stannis Smith possesses both.”
Now, all-too-familiar with crummy industry deals, Smith decided to start his own label, 1223 Music. The first musical offering from his EP titled Chapters One – Six is “Four Seasons,” a deeply satisfying atmospheric groove cooked up with Grammy-nominated producer Tiyon “TC” Christian.
Credit: 1223 Music
“TC is so gifted and skilled,” Smith added, “and he brought out the best in me as an artist and songwriter.”
Smith’s voice weaves throughout the hypnotic track with conviction.
“Stannis is truly a one of a kind artist with a voice and tone that tugs at your heartstrings while shaking you to the core,” TC said.
In the first verse, Smith paints a portrait of pure bliss. He turns up the heat just enough to arouse your imagination when he discloses his hourslong love-making plans in the second verse.
“Can’t no other man make you feel like I will / I put that on everything and that’s real / We can lay under the night sky / Making love until the sunrise.”
Chapters One – Six features contributions from Kameelah and Grammy Award winner Kennard Garrett, also a Morehouse alumnus.
“Just after one listen, the songs get implanted in your memory, leaving you craving for more,” Garrett said.
Producers Johnny Thomas and Cam Fletcher overwhelmingly brought key ingredients into the EP, and Marcus Eldridge collaborated as a songwriter. “Four Seasons” is currently available on all streaming platforms. The full EP is slated for release at the end of the summer.
One thing is certain: R&B is not dead. Thank you for the gentle reminder, Stannis Smith.
If you love real R&B music that soothes the soul and AfterBuzz TV’s Quarantine Music Discoveries, share this article with a friend. Tune in daily to AfterBuzz TV articles and after shows for all the latest news on the world of music, pop culture, and entertainment.
About The Author:
Kenneth Ware is a Texas native filled with a passion for writing, style, and a sense of humor. The Los Angeles-based writer’s credits include the New York Times, Houston Chronicle, and Washington Post.
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