If there were ever an “˜it girl’ of vocal coaches, it has to be Jan Smith.
Fresh on the heels of being tapped by teen pop sensation Justin Bieber to join him on a high profile 17-day tour that included appearances on American Idol, The View (twice in one week), Jay Leno, David Letterman and Saturday Night Live, the renown vocal coach and producer was recently called by the team of blazing hot rapper Drake to prep him for his upcoming tour.
But as it turned out, Smith was not available. “They called to fly me to Canada to do the prep work with Drake,” says Smith, “and due to my previous and recent commitment to do the Justin Bieber promo, that was not possible for me to cover those dates, so I sent one of my associates, Dionne Osborne.”
Smith said Drake’s camp was referred by another client, R&B singer Keri Hilson.
“I’ve worked with Keri for several years running now, having known her long before her name became recognizable to the rest of the world. Keri’s business management hand les Drake as well, and they had asked her for a referral. That’s the cool thing about our clients — they’re proud to pass us onto other artists knowing full well we’ll take good care of them, too.”
Smith said she typically caters to JSS’s national clients personally but in this case her priority was to ensure that Drake got the prepping he needed and that the new relationship with him was firmly established. “I’m happy to add Drake’s name to the long list of artists we’ve worked with at Jan Smith Studios and equally as happy that working with him provided a great opportunity for Dionne to garner that experience.” Said Osborne, “It’s exciting to have a rap artist and his entire team all understand the importance of involving a vocal coach from the beginning of a tour versus being called in to do the rehab on damaged vocal cords after the fact.”
Smith, whose Atlanta-based Jan Smith Studios sees more than 200 students any given week and boasts the largest roster of charting artists of any vocal coaching facility in the country, has been known in the past for her longstand ing association with multi-platinum singers Usher, Rob Thomas, Trey Songz and India.Arie; however, it has been her work with 16-year-old Bieber that has thrust “˜Mama Jan,’ as she is affectionately known, into the public eye of late. Smith says Usher brought the young singer to her over a year ago and since that time she has been a key member of his team. “Mama Jan is more than a vocal coach,” says Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun. “She’s a staple on our team and is someone we can turn to for business advice and personal advice. But more importantly, she knows how to protect, nurture, and grow an artist in this business. Having Mama Jan on our team gives us all the confidence to be able to do our jobs, because if we can’t for some reason, we know she’s got it covered.”
Smith is also spreading her wings in the business. She and her business partner, Andre Young are assembling a roster of ready-made artists, producers, and songwriters to firm up their presentation for distribution. “All we really need at this point is for one artist in our camp to break through to the other side, which is only a matter of time now. And then watch the floodgates open! We’re excited because we really believe in the talent and in knowing that things in this business can still be done the right way to benefit everybody.