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Local Spotlight: Jess Smith

By Rachel Woodward, July 26 2016 —

Jess Smith was born and raised in Calahoo, a small Alberta hamlet with a population of less than 500. At age 16, Smith began pursuing music, a passion she continues in Calgary 10 years later.

“I am heavily influenced by neo-soul, R&B and jazz. I grew up listening to folk and classic rock and I went to school for music. That’s where I was exposed to jazz and soul,” Smith says. “It’s my two worlds that came together.”

Recently, the Shelter from the Storm art project and Sled Island collaborated with local musicians to create Verses vs. Homelessness, an album supporting the Calgary Drop-In Centre. Smith was a part of the project and says it sparked a desire to work with mental health in her art.

“It’s bringing awareness to homelessness. It was an amazing experience because I was undereducated about it until I did it. It was more to expose that everybody’s story is so different,” she says. “It’s to learn the depth of the stories and [that] it’s not just our perception.”

The album, presented at Sled Island this year, is available for purchase on Bandcamp. Smith says this project is just one of the many reasons why Calgary’s art scene is so important to the community and to musicians like herself.

“Calgary’s scene is unbelievable in how open-minded and willing people are here to give someone an opportunity that you would have to grind for years to get in other cities,” Smith says.
Smith hopes to release a formal album within the year. Visit eyeconicartmovement.com to listen to her work.

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