Salamani Music was founded, in Los Angeles, by William D. "Smitty" Smith and Patricia Grizzle Huling in 1971. First called Patramani (a branch still active today), their entities were among the first publishing companies owned and operated by African Americans. Initially a vehicle for William D. "Smitty" Smith's own recordings in the 1960's-1980's, Salamani Music began writing and licensing songs out to notable artists such as Maurice White, Etta James, Dionne Warwick, Roberta Flack and Richie Havens. Salamani Music is one of the few publishing companies, of those eras, to stay current and relevant in the ever-changing music business landscape. Salamani Music's catalog is highly sought after by the new generations of Soul, R&B and Hip Hop and has been sampled and covered by J Dilla, D'Angelo, DJ Premier and A$AP Rocky, among others. Salamani Music has been under the helm of Smith and Grizzle Huling's son, Amani K. Smith, since 1986.
William D. "Smitty" Smith
Legendary songwriter/keyboard player, in the music scene of the sixties, seventies and eighties, William Daniel "Smitty" Smith was known for his work with historic Canadian band Motherlode, his own solo albums and collaborations with iconic musicians suchs as Bob Dylan, Roberta Flack, Bonnie Raitt, Rod Stewart, Billy Joel, Richie Havens and Etta James.
The Virginia-born Smitty, who had been playing, in the states, since the age of 15, joined the Canadian music scene in the early 1960's. He was first known for his work with the Soul Searchers, a band fronted by Eric Mercury and Diane Brooks including Steve Kennedy, Eric "Mouse" Johnson and Terry Logan. Following the break-up of that group, Steve Kennedy, and then Smitty, joined Grant Smith and The Power. The quartet of Smitty, Marco (Bar-Kays, Upset), Kennedy and Stone splintered from the nine-piece showband having grown tired of performing material by others. They formed Motherlode in 1969 and moved to the isolation of London, Ontario so they could pursue their own original tunes. They starved and stayed with friends but finally caught a break, after their debut at the Image Club, when Mort Ross signed them to Revolver/Compo Records that yearTheir first single, "When I Die", was produced by Doug Riley and Terry Brown and failed to make a splash on radio. However, the band's reciprocal deal in the US with Neil Bogart's Buddah Records made the song a #18 hit. With the song selling upwards of 500, 000 copies it eventually made it to Canadian charts (reaching #5) and causing RPM magazine to declare them Canada's first Supergroup. Their debut album, also called "When I Die" also featured the Top-30 hit "Memories Of A Broken Promise".
With a hit record under his belt, in 1971, Smitty planned to move to Los Angeles to pursue a solo career. Influential friends like David Foster, David Clayton Thomas (Blood Sweat and Tears) and Dominic Troiano (Three Dog Night) believed there were more opportunities for Smitty in L.A. Once in California, he was quickly welcomed and worked with Etta James, David Foster, Richie Havens and Crosby, Stills and Nash among others.
The sessions Smitty did with such legends in the business allowed him the opportunity to gain solo record deals of his own. In 1975, Smitty was signed to Warner Bros and completed his first solo album "A Good Feelin'". Smitty was paired with New Orleans R&B music god Allen Toussaint to record the album. Smitty brought in half the songs on the LP, three of which he co-wrote with Eric Mercury and two with David Clayton Thomas. Toussaint composed the others, as well as arranging and producing all the tracks. In 1978 his sophmore effort was "Smitty" for A&M records. On that album, Smitty recorded at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio with the creme de le creme of session musicians, The Swampers (The Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section).
Throughout the 1980's Smitty continued to do session work and tour with great artists like Tracy Chapman, Linda Ronstandt, Maurice White, Jackson Browne, Bruce Willis, Rod Stewart, Tina Turner and The Pointer Sisters while also writing and composing original music for known artists and film.
After suffering a stroke on New Year's Day 1992, Smitty's supporters and friends, including Jackson Browne, Graham Nash and Bonnie Raitt staged a benefit performance for
Smitty at the Palace in Hollywood. During this period, Smitty began writing poetry and published his memoirs,"A Stroke Of Luck". On Nov. 26 1997, Smitty died in Sherman Oaks of a heart attack.
Since Smitty's death, Motherlode's music has sparked interest from a new generation of music lovers with covers and samples by many including D'Angelo, Neneh Cherry, Gangstarr, DJ Premier and J Dilla. In 2000,
Motherlode's "When I Die" received the SOCAN "Classic" Award and in 2011, "When I Die" was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Updates on "Smitty" can be found here: facebook.com/williamdsmittysmith
Amani K. Smith aka Burt Blackarach
Burt Blackarach Grammy-winning engineer (The Tempations), seasoned DJ and long time collaborator, as a producer and composer, with legendary music producer Gary G Wiz and iconic MC, Chuck D both of seminal rap group, Public Enemy.
Born in Los Angeles, to a Canadian mother and an American father, both heavyweights in the music business, Blackarach grew up watching his parents collaborate with the industry's biggest stars including Bob Dylan, Rick James, Fleetwood Mac and Etta James. Growing up around such legendary performers, Blackarach couldn't help but catch the music bug early.
Fascinated with the emerging hip hop culture, a collaboration with high school best friend DJ Nu Mark (Jurassic 5) created Bum Rush Productions, a highly sought after West Coast DJ crew that rocked house parties and the hottest clubs in Los Angeles. While in college, dreams of one day working with his favorite hip hop groups, Blackarach began interning at some of L.A.'s most famous recording studios, both learning the art of production and engineering while simultaneously hosting his own college radio show and producing records for up and coming artists.
Blackarach quickly became as accomplished producer, engineer and guest DJ working with old and new talent alike including Snoop Dogg, The Temptations and Kelly Clarkson. In 2000, Blackarach achieved a 'Best R&B album' Grammy win for his engineering work with The Temptations and was quickly adding composer to his list of skills. While scoring for James Cameron's "Dark Angel" on FOX, a partnership with legendary "Bomb Squad" producer Gary G. Wiz (Ice Cube, Janet Jackson, U2) produced Urbanscore, an urban and traditional production and composing company. Together, Blackarach and G Wiz have produced songs for Public Enemy, Aerosmith, Ludacris, KRS One and Busta Rhymes among others. Urbanscores' long list of composing credits include HBO's "Entourage", ESPN's ESPY Awards, ESPN's X Games, countless Superbowl commercials and original music for MTV and VH1 produced shows and films.
Demand for Urbanscore's services opened Urbanscore Studios, a Los Angeles-based boutique recording studio. Using his Grammy-winning engineering skills and production know-how, Blackarach has lured in the likes of Aloe Blacc, Method Man, Redman and Sonny Digital. Many of Public Enemy's current work has been edited at Urbanscore including "Harder Than You Think", the first single off of their 20th anniversary album How You Sell Soul to a Soulless People Who Sold Their Soul? and the highest-charting single on the UK Singles Chart. In 2013, for his ongoing work with Public Enemy, Blackarach's name was added to their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame plaque when inducted into the famed instituion.
Due to his years of experience and impressive list of clients as a DJ, including Vanity Fair magazine, LRG, Interscope Records and Jay Z, Blackarach has been sought out by music journalists as well as music schools to share his perspective on the true art of DJing and all aspects of the music business. Blackarach's innate sense as a DJ has also landed him as a touring equipment expert for accomplished DJs like Cut Chemist and DJ Nu Mark, both of indie hip hop group, Jurassic 5.
Blackarach is currently in development for a music documentary based on his father, deceased legendary soul and rock keyboard player and songwriter William D. "Smitty" Smith. Using his father's personal memoir, "A Stroke of Luck" and his lost demo tapes as the foundation, this documentary delves deep into the underbelly of the music industry from the 1960's to the present day.
Blackarach is a member of the Recording Academy.
More information can be found here: www.burtblackarach.com
Patricia "Tish" Grizzle Huling Ph.D
The Canadian-born accomplished singer, songwriter and actress tackled the entertainment business while growing up in Toronto. She made her first television appearance at the age of 14. She and Smitty left Toronto in 1971. They settled in Los Angeles where their children, Sala and Amani were born. Besides pursuing her career as a vocalist, Patricia also began to master the administration of publishing companies. Eventually they established and maintained control of two music catalogues, Patramani and Salamani Music. This was practically unheard of at that time. Smitty and Tish divorced in 1985. Then, Patricia “Tish” Grizzle was ready for a new challenge. Education.
In 1987 she enrolled as a freshman at California State University, Northridge and prepared for a new career teaching college. The first African-Canadian/American to receive her Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, Dr. Patricia Grizzle Huling followed in the footsteps of greats like W.E.B. DuBois, who was the first African-American to receive a Ph.D. in Sociology. Grizzle Huling represents the new generation of exceptional scholars.
To stay up to date with Dr. Grizzle Huling's research on her family's history, as escaped slaves: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dr-patricia-grizzle-huling