Meet jazz- and soul-style songstress Sy Smith. The talented singer first wowed us when she performed at our Chris Botti concert on Rodeo Drive. Every year, Sy and her generous friends donate an animal or two to Heifer International
The vivacious Sy Smith answers our Genlux Two-Word Questionnaire.
Your passion? Performing! I’ve always been a performer. Even when I was little, I would tell stories, jokes, play piano. Singing came much later, actually.
Your heroes? My mother and father. My mother has never let any adversity slow her down. Even confined to a wheelchair, she leads her community in preservation of local history, educating young folk, and bringing people of all backgrounds together! I love that woman. My father has always taught me the importance of excellence and to always strive to be at the top of my game. He also taught me how to laugh at life. Sometimes that lesson proves to be the most important.
Favorite quote? There’s an African proverb I love: “If you can walk, you can dance. If you can talk, you can sing.” There’s something very liberating about dancing like no one is looking, and singing like you’re in the shower!
Favorite getaway? Um...anywhere in Italy! Seriously. I love Italy and all things Italian. The Tuscany region and the island of Capri are my favorites so far. I shot a video there called The Art of You, and you can see the absolute joy as I’m twirling in the streets!
Your loves? My husband and best friend, Shawn Carter Peterson. And our puppy, Djinji. I can’t explain how much love this giant furball has brought to our lives! How does that happen? All I know is, if you wanna be my friend, you gotta be down with my doggy! Ha ha…
You’re reading? I’m re-reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. Hurston’s writing is so powerful…so tactile and visual.
Happiest moment? Graduating from Howard University in Washington, DC. Oh, man, it was a bittersweet joy…because once you leave college, you’re in the real world—for real! With all the culture and traditions that go with experiencing an HBCU [historically Black college & university], it was the best decision I had ever made. And finishing with a degree—magna cum laude, I might add! That was the icing on a very delicious cake.
DNA change? Ah, man. I’m hypercritical…of myself, of everything around me. It’s a terrible characteristic.
Favorite song? Ooh, this is a tough one. I think “I Can’t Help It” by Michael Jackson on his Off the Wall album. This song is such a perfect example of how it feels to be so vulnerably in love, and MJ’s delivery is nothing short of perfect. Whenever I listen to it, I’m brought to tears because I know that feeling so well. And I revel in it.
Next life? I’d like to come back as a gazelle…experiencing the rush of running full-speed through some picturesque savannah with the sun beaming and the wind blowing! I know that at some point I might be taken down by a cheetah or something, but that’s just the cycle of life, right?
Favorite charity? I truly admire the work of Heifer International. They provide farm animals to families to help give them a leg up in sustaining their livelihoods and growing small businesses. Every year, my closest friends pull together to donate an animal or two to a family in need. Their website is heifer.org.
Favorite ice cream?
Coffee. And coffee.
Going to see a musical called Your Arms Too Short to Box With God at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC. My mom and I had front-row seats. Patti LaBelle was in the leading role, and at the end of the show, in true Patti form, she jumped off the stage and came up to me and sang! She got me out of my seat and just slayed me something fierce! I was about seven years old. I said to myself that night, “I wanna do that when I grow up!” Hopefully, I’m coming pretty close.
Art Direction: Stephen Kamifuji
Photography by Tracey Morris / OliveHead.com
Stylist: Holly Copeland / TheRexAgency.com
Makeup: Jen Fiamengo / CelestineAgency.com
Hair: Miho Suzuki / Wilhelmina Artists using Bumble and bumble
Digital Tech: Robert Morris
Lighting Assistant: Darren Stone
Location: The Lodge Beverly Hills / LodgeBeverlyHills.com
Art Direction: Stephen Kamifuji