We had the good fortune of connecting with Gil Smith II and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gil, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I saw a need for advocacy within the urban touring community. There were only a handful of great music directors, but a ton of accounts…which means that past a certain point, musicians were pretty much on their own in terms of negotiating, getting information, and just feeling like someone was in their corner should anything go down.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m a music director and producer, and my passion lies in producing live tours, shows and performances. I’m responsible for every musical aspect of the tour, from hiring the band, singers and sound engineers to arranging the show flow (creating intros, transitions, music for content, etc.). Off-stage, I’m managing the crew, making sure things are flowing smoothly and trying to maintain a healthy balance of work/fun. My intro to music started in the home where taking piano lessons starting at 5yrs old was a rule, not an option. It took a while for me to enjoy it and find my voice (not until high school!), From there I started playing in church. My sister started groups and choirs and I would play…bring in musicians like my cousin Jason who plays bass, and that’s where the foundation was laid. Fast forward to high school where I met my mentor Fred Martin who was the Gospel choir director, and things went to a different level from there. He picked up where my parents left off in nurturing my gift and giving me a platform, I ended up going to Berklee College of Music, and things just kind of snowballed from there! There are so many lessons I’ve learned and I continue to learn on a daily basis with regard to this industry. Overall I’d say that if you don’t look or act like the rest of the bunch, THAT’S TOTALLY OKAY. Do you and be unapologetic about it. There’s something special about the way you do what you do, so much that no one else can do it the way YOU do it. Embrace that and run with it. I want my story to reflect that even though we live in a country based on a capitalist mindset, it’s also really cool to see about your brothers & sisters, consider them, be fair and create scenarios where everyone truly wins.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Ooooooo there are so many places! If they’ve never been here, we’d definitely hit up the “LA” spots… Roscoe’s, In N Out Burger, and we’d have to do sushi somewhere. Maybe hit up Mastro’s or Pacific Dining Car also for some great steaks. For drinks, any bar in WeHo, or the bar at Barton G makes some kiiiiiiiiiller drinks…whew! We’d visit the African American museum at Exposition Park…and I’d probably take them where there’s live music..some place like The Federal in NoHo. Something else that’s cool to do in LA (I discovered this with my wife) is going on a mini food tour. Hop in an Uber and go one place for drinks, another place for appetizers, another place for dinner and another place for dessert. So fun!!!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Soooo many ppl! – My parents Gilbert & Marie Smith – My sister Denise Smith – My wife Alela Smith – My mentors Fred Martin, Kern Brantley – Tons of family & friends that continue to inspire me