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Rhonda Smith, World Renowned Bass Player for Prince, Releases New Album

SOURCE: Published: 2006-09-23
Rhonda Smith, longstanding bass player for legendary visionary Prince, has appeared on a myriad of magazine covers from Bass Player with the purple majesty himself to Bassics. Now she prepares to release her groundbreaking sophomore album RS2 featuring guest appearances from Prince, Sheila E., Fred Hammond and others

Redefining the role of gifted musicians who are also equally gifted vocalists, confessional singer/songwriter and bass player Rhonda Smith, is one of music's great undiscovered treasures. As a vocalist, the pearly tone songstress is lyrically sophisticated with emotional depth that is both admirable and technically brilliant, and as a musician, she has sparked several genres of music including smooth jazz/funk and electrified funk/rock, which only touch the tip of her creative abilities.

“This is Rhonda ... and SHE is funky!"--Prince

Rhonda, who released her debut record Intellipop in 2000, has played bass for and toured with the revolutionary Prince for close to a decade; and anyone familiar with the Purple Majesty's stringent work ethic knows that in order to be a part of his innovative ensemble, artistic perfection is a non-negotiable requirement.

“This is Rhonda and she is funky" is the chant heard and sung by millions of Prince fans at shows on 5 continents. But make no mistake; the funk is only the tip of the iceberg. Taking the incalculable experience of working alongside one of the industry's most revered pioneering talents, along with a treasure trove of perfect melodies, Rhonda has skillfully packaged it all in a disc that will surely give her the respect she rightfully deserves.

“Rhonda Smith is the consummate example of power and grace on bass. A member of Prince's New Power Generation band since 1997, Rhonda can apply fretless finesse to a steamy ballad and, in the spin of a boot heel, dole out serious double-thumbing on a furious funk workout. With Prince, Smith's grooves onstage and on disc are impressive -- but her evocative 2000 debut solo CD Intellipop reveals a savvy composer, sultry vocalist, and seasoned arranger / producer who masterfully juggles overdubbed 5- and 6-string, electric upright, piccolo bass, and fretless in service of the songs." - Bass Player Magazine

RS2, Rhonda's sophomore CD, is a breakout and breakthrough record that beautifully showcases the genius talent in her element. And people do dig it, especially His Royal Badness, who also appears on RS2. The album is plush and detailed with an abundance of virtuoso performances from renowned artist Sheila E. to a surprising duet with gospel superstar Fred Hammond. Rhonda says that in her experience playing with Prince she has learned “a lot of patience and the importance of being solid in the band." She goes on to say: “Everyone has a different role and I've learned a lot of techniques from Prince. You have to be around it and inhale it and watch it for a while and live and breathe it. Things such as that I have learned and have been invaluable."

It comes as no surprise that the ambitious musician with a storied career that spans over two decades, comes from a musical family. Born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the oldest black community in Canada, she and her family moved to the French and Jazz-influenced Montreal while she was a child. There, she was surrounded by the sounds of piano riffs, her mother's instrument of choice, as well as a lot of rock & roll. As a child, Smith, who has three siblings that are also musically- inclined, learned how to play the baritone horn, keyboard, guitar and of course, bass.

Rhonda attended McGill University in Montreal where she studied jazz performance. While at McGill, she began touring Canada with different rock groups, usually as the sole female artist proving that she could hang with her male counterparts. She worked with many notable Canadian artists including Claude Dubois, Daniel Lavoie, Robert Charlebois, and Joanne Blouin. She won a coveted Juno Award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Contemporary Jazz Album for her work with Jim Hillman and The Merlin Factor.

Since coming to the US, Rhonda's resume reads like a Who's Who of the music industry. In addition to her work with Prince, she has performed with Chaka Khan, Beyonce, T. I., Erykah Badu, Patti Austin, Patrice Rushen, Brenda Russell, Lee Ritenour, Larry Graham, Patti Labelle, Little Richard, Justin Timberlake, Najee, Candy Dulfer, Kirk Whalum and George Clinton, to name a few.

“Montreal born, LA-based Rhonda Smith is an in-demand bass player of the highest order. Her resume includes work with Chaka Khan, Sheila E and backed artists as diverse as Little Richard, Justin Timberlake and Robert Palmer"--Australian Musician Magazine

Rhonda is no stranger to the camera either. She has been featured in numerous music videos, appeared on the covers of Bass Player and Bassics magazines and even spent stints with The Martin Short Show and The Wayne Brady Show. She has 3 Platinum Plaques on her wall and in 2004 played for 1.4 million attendees over 88 sold-out dates on Prince's wildly successful Musicology Tour.

Recorded and performed primarily in Atlanta, RS2 is an inventive disc that favors solid instrumentation and radiant harmonies, with Rhonda's voice flowing gorgeously over the unpredictable beats. The diversity and musicality of the album draw obvious comparisons to Prince. However, “Ms. Rhonda" clearly has her own unique identity and sound. The legendary visionary has undoubtedly influenced Smith as a businesswoman and artist, however she is quick to point out that she is not a Prince clone. “This record tells a story. We made a conscious effort to assemble an album that people can listen to from top to bottom without having to hit the skip button. No filler allowed." No filler indeed. Experience Rhonda's breakthrough-- RS2.

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