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DR. LONNIE SMITH


BIO: Dr. Lonnie Smith is an unparalleled musician, composer, performer and recording artist. An authentic master and guru of the Hammond B-3 organ for over five decades, he has been featured on over seventy albums, and has recorded and performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the greatest jazz, blues and R&B giants in the industry. Consequently, he has often been hailed as a “Legend,” a “Living Musical Icon,” and as the most creative jazz organist by a slew of music publications. Jazz Times magazine describes him as “a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a turban!” Always ahead of the curve, it is no surprise Dr. Smith’s fan-base is truly worldwide. Born in Buffalo, New York, Lonnie was blessed with the gift of music. Through his mother, he was immersed in gospel, blues and jazz at an early age. In his teens, he sang in several vocal groups including his own–the Supremes–formed long before Motown’s eventual iconic act of the same name. Lonnie also played trumpet and other instruments at school and was a featured soloist. In the late ‘50s– with the encouragement of Art Kubera, who owned a local music store that he would visit daily–young Lonnie was given the opportunity to learn how to play a Hammond organ. By completely immersing himself in the records of organists such as Wild Bill Davis, Bill Doggett and Jimmy Smith, as well as paying rapt attention to the church organ, a young Lonnie began to find his musical voice. “Even though I didn’t know how, I was able to play right from the beginning,” Dr. Smith reflects. “I learned how to work the stops and that was it. It’s a passion for me, so everything else came naturally.” Because of Mr. Kubera’s kindness, Dr. Lonnie often refers to Art as his “angel.” The Doctor’s first gigs were at Buffalo’s hottest jazz club, the Pine Grill, where he rapidly garnered the attention of folks like Jack McDuff, Lou Donaldson, George Benson and the booking agent Jimmy Boyd. George Benson was looking for an organist for his quartet and enlisted Lonnie. The group soon relocated to New York City, where they quickly established a reputation as innovators in Harlem clubs and throughout the area. After appearing on several Benson albums, Lonnie went on to make his first recording as a leader—Finger Lickin’ Good–for Columbia Records in 1966. Shortly thereafter, Smith was scooped up to record by saxophonist Lou Donaldson, for whom Lonnie would appear on several epic Blue Note LPs, including the million-seller, Alligator Boogaloo. Blue Note clearly liked what they heard and inked the organist to his own recording contract, a deal which would produce the soul jazz classics Think!, Turning Point, Move Your Hand, Drives and Live at Club Mozambique (released many years later). Since leaving the Blue Note stable in the ‘70s, Dr. Smith has recorded for a slew of record labels, including Kudu, Groove Merchant, T.K., Scufflin’, Criss Cross and Palmetto, ascending the charts many times. His unpredictable, insatiable musical taste illustrates that no genre is safe, as Lonnie has recorded everything from covers of the Beatles, the Stylistics and the Eurythmics, to tribute albums of Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and Beck–all by employing ensembles ranging from a trio to a fifteen-piece big band. Moreover, many of Doc’s recent compositions reflect dramatic ethereal qualities and orchestration that elicit movie scores or soundtracks. Dr. Smith has been amused to find himself sampled in rap, dance and house grooves while being credited as a forefather of acid jazz. When questioned about his consistent interest in music some consider outside the jazz “mainstream,” Lonnie shrugs. “Jazz is American Classical,” he proclaims. “And this music is a reflection of what’s happening at the time… The organ is like the sunlight, rain and thunder…it’s all the worldly sounds to me!” And worldly awards have followed. Since 1969, when Downbeat magazine named him “Top Organist” of that year, Dr. Lonnie Smith has won a plethora of critics’ polls as the world’s premier organist/keyboardist. Moreover, he was recently inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame, as well as the Jazz Organ Fellowship’s Hall of Fame. In 2012, Dr. Smith launched his own recording and production company—Pilgrimage Productions—for which he will soon release a blazing new live trio album, as well as the first installment of the Dr. Smith songbook series, a program designed to shed light on the organist’s vast (yet often overlooked) career as a composer.

Latest Articles


Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio Releases New Single 'Cold As Weiss' Photo Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio Releases New Single 'Cold As Weiss'
by TV News Desk - April 28, 2021

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio conjures the smoky 1960s jazz stylings of Jimmy Smith and Baby Face Willette, and the snappy soul strut of Booker T. & The M.G.’s, The Meters, Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Charles Earland. Within the trio’s distinct jazz stew, are also dashes of Motown, Stax Records, blues, and cos...
JAY-Z To Accept Gatekeeper of Truth Award At Harry Belafonte's 94th Birthday Celebrat Photo JAY-Z To Accept Gatekeeper of Truth Award At Harry Belafonte's 94th Birthday Celebration
by TV News Desk - February 23, 2021

The event will feature just-added performances & appearances from Tiffany Haddish, Usher, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Charlamagne Tha God, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Susan Sarandon & Pete Buttigieg....
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio's Album 'I Told You So' Debuts on Multiple Billboard Charts Photo Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio's Album 'I Told You So' Debuts on Multiple Billboard Charts
by TV News Desk - February 09, 2021

The album just debuted on multiple Billboard Charts: #1 on the Contemporary Jazz Album chart, #3 on the Jazz Album chart, #4 on the Tastemaker Album chart, and #12 on the Heatseeker Album chart....
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio Announces New Album 'I Told You So' Photo Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio Announces New Album 'I Told You So'
by TV News Desk - November 09, 2020

Today the Seattle-based soul-jazz groove-machine Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio announced I Told You So....
216 Quarterfinalists Announced For 2021 Music Educator Award Presented By The Recordi Photo 216 Quarterfinalists Announced For 2021 Music Educator Award Presented By The Recording Academy And GRAMMY Museum
by TV News Desk - June 09, 2020

A total of 216 music teachers from 199 cities have been announced as quarterfinalists for the Music Educator Award presented by the Recording Academy® and GRAMMY Museum®. In total, nearly 2,000 initial nominations were submitted. In addition to our quarterfinalists, 91 legacy applicants from 2020 wi...
Monterey Jazz Festival Announces Allison Miller And Derrick Hodge As 2019 Artists-in- Photo Monterey Jazz Festival Announces Allison Miller And Derrick Hodge As 2019 Artists-in-Residence
by BWW News Desk - October 22, 2018

Monterey Jazz Festival is proud to announce that drummer and composer Allison Miller and bassist, composer and producer Derrick Hodge have been selected as the 2019 Monterey Jazz Festival Artists-in-Residence and will work year-round with young musicians in performances and clinics at the 2019 Next ...
Rising Star, Domani, Tears Down BETX Coca-Cola Stage During the 2018 BET Awards in LA Photo Rising Star, Domani, Tears Down BETX Coca-Cola Stage During the 2018 BET Awards in LA
by BWW News Desk - June 28, 2018

In celebration of the 2018 BET Awards in Los Angeles, Domani Harris, was invited to perform on the BETX Coca-Cola stage on Saturday June 23rd. Domani, a rising rap star and son to hip hop legend T.I., performed alongside a live band new tracks off his recently released project AMYGDALA. Fans rushed ...
The 2018 BET Award Winners - Complete List! Photo The 2018 BET Award Winners - Complete List!
by TV News Desk - June 25, 2018

The 2018 BET Awards took place Sunday at Los Angeles' Microsoft Theater, Kendrick Lamar taking home to most prizes, for best male hip hop artist and album of the year for “DAMN.” Beyonce was crowned the best female R&B/pop artist, and Cardi B won for best female hip hop artist. Anita Baker received ...
Resonance Records Releases Previously Unissued Music from Jazz Guitar Icon Grant Gree Photo Resonance Records Releases Previously Unissued Music from Jazz Guitar Icon Grant Green
by TV News Desk - May 25, 2018

Resonance Records is proud to release the first official previously unissued recordings of Grant Green in over 10 years, representing the earliest (1969-1970) and latest (1975) known live recordings of Grant Green as a bandleader. Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes (1969-1970) and Slick! - Live a...
Resonance Records Announces Previously Unreleased Music from Jazz Guitar Icon Grant G Photo Resonance Records Announces Previously Unreleased Music from Jazz Guitar Icon Grant Green
by TV News Desk - April 16, 2018

Resonance Records is proud to announce the first official previously unissued recordings of Grant Green in over 10 years, representing the earliest (1969-1970) and latest (1975) known live recordings of Grant Green as a bandleader. Funk in France: From Paris to Antibes (1969-1970) will be released i...
McDonald's Reinforces its Commitment to the Community through 12th Annual Inspiration Photo McDonald's Reinforces its Commitment to the Community through 12th Annual Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour
by BWW News Desk - March 23, 2018

McDonald's USA announced the return of one of its staple events, the 12 th annual Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour. The longest-running, brand-owned gospel tour of its kind is back with an award-winning talent line-up sure to please fans nationwide. This free concert tour begins May 17 and runs u...
Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts Presents ALICIA OLATUJA 3/10 Photo Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts Presents ALICIA OLATUJA 3/10
by BWW News Desk - January 25, 2018

Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College continues its 2017-18 Kumble Theater season with jazz singer/songwriter Alicia Olatuja. Drawing from a wide range of musical influence including classical, R&B, soul, and gospel, this Brooklyn resident brings her scintillating jazz stylings...
Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato & More to Perform on Season Finale of THE VOICE Photo Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato & More to Perform on Season Finale of THE VOICE
by TV News Desk - December 15, 2017

Superstar recording artists Kelly Clarkson, Demi Lovato, N.E.R.D., Charlie Puth, Sia and season 12 winner Chris Blue are set to perform on the live two-hour Tuesday, Dec. 19 season finale (9-11 p.m. ET/PT) of NBC's four-time Emmy Award-winning musical competition series THE VOICE....