Sandy Smith steps up front - Alborosie teams with wife for ‘Take me to the Dancefloor’
The importance of backup singers cannot be denied. One school of thought is that it is the backup singers who make a song sing. Often overlooked, they provide harmonies and vocals that complement the melody line performed by a lead singer, and are sometimes excellent lead singers themselves. For singer Sandy Smith, who has been touring since she was 19 with acts including Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, Jimmy Cliff and Alborosie, doing back up is her secure niche.
And if her surname Smith – although not unusual – rings a familiar musical bell, listen carefully, because it is tinkling Carlton Smith from The Tamlins and Clifford ‘Mr Vegas’ Smith. Both singers are her uncles. But her musical pedigree goes deeper than that. Sandy’s grandfather, Bobby Gaynair, distinguished himself as an international legendary jazz and ska musician who played alongside his older brother Wilton and her grand-uncle, saxophonist Wilton Gaynair. Both attended the renowned musical institution, Alpha Boys’ School. Also, her grandmother toured with the renowned Count Ossie.
“My family never stops singing. At Christmastime, we would all gather and sing because everybody could hold a note,” the second-place winner in the 2003 JCDC gospel festival competition told The Gleaner. “My mother was always entering me and my brother and sister in competitions, and we had a group called CAS. While in school, I would be chosen to sing solo on the choir, and I would agree, but when the time came, I would hide,” Smith confessed. She would go on to enter the 2009 Digicel Rising Stars competition, where she placed fifth and continued her hectic touring schedule.
She embraced the role as part of Italian singer Alborosie’s harmonisers, and in addition to being one of the first artistes signed to his label, she is also his wife. Now basking in married bliss, Smith juggles her time between being a mother of two, providing harmony on all Alborosie’s recordings, and still ventures on the road at intervals. Although they rarely record collabs, the husband-and-wife team now have a song that all the players involved are proud of. It’s titled Take me to the Dancefloor.
“Frenchie, the producer, had a rhythm that he wanted us to do a collab for, so Albert [Alborosie] wrote his part and the punchline and I did mine. We have done songs before, but this is the first one with a love song kinda vibes,” Smith told The Gleaner.
Alborosie is known for his roots reggae offerings rather than lovers’ rock. However, he did show his versatility when, in 2019, he did the huge collab with Etana, titled Blessings. Excited about this song with his wife, he called it “incredible” and pointed out that “she’s my wife, so I have to be a good husband”.
He said he was inspired to write a song that would make people want to dance. “I hardly hear nuh music like 10 years ago that the vibe is vibrant. The music is kinda flat, so I want this song to help bring back a vibe that a man will want to take a woman to the dance floor,” he shared.
The artistes and the producer, Maximum Sound, are now contemplating shooting the accompanying visuals.