Born: July 3, 1942 Primary Instrument: Organ, Hammond B3
Dr. Lonnie Smith is internationally known as one of the premier jazz keyboardists in the history of the idiom. A dominant talent and pace-setting proponent of the Hammond B3 Organ and widely recognized and gifted pianist, Lonnie has been at the forefront of the jazz scene since 1969 when he was named Top Organist by Downbeat Magazine. Most recently, Dr. Smith has been awarded the Organ Keyboardist of the Year award in 2003, 2004 and 2005 by the Jazz Journalist Association.
He was born in Buffalo, New York into a musical family. His family had a singing group and a radio show. Smith credits his mother as a major influence in his musical career, introducing him to gospel, classical and jazz music. As a young man in the 1950's, Smith sang in several groups including the Teen Kings. Music store owner Art Kubera gave Smith his first Hammond B3 organ. From his early years with George Benson to present day performances and recordings, Lonnie has acquired critical acclaim for his brilliant work in the jazz world.
After recording several albums with George Benson, Lonnie became a solo recording artist and developed a career that has produced over 30 albums under his own name. Several legendary jazz artists have joined Dr. Lonnie Smith on his albums, including Lee Morgan, David Fat Head Newman, King Curtis, Blue Mitchell, and Joe Lavano among others.
Lonnie has performed at the major world jazz festivals with Dizzy Gillespie, Grover Washington, Jr., Ron Carter, Lou Donaldson, Jimmy McGriff, Jimmy Scott, Frank Foster, Leon Thomas, Willis Jackson and other prominent jazz artists. His extraordinary range has also included performances with the rhythm and blues greats Gladys Knight, Dionne Warwick, Etta James, Esther Phillips, the Impressions and the Coasters. Dr. Lonnie Smith's album, Lenox and Seventh Avenue, recorded in Paris, has become a classic jazz tour de force.
In addition to his recording talents, Lonnie is truly a dynamic performer who regularly tours throughout Europe and the Far East. He has a vibrant energy to his music, which he plays with imagination and taste that has earned him respect from fans and peers wherever he performs. Currently, he is traveling and performing internationally, and may be seen at jazz festivals here or abroad.