Birmingham born and bred songstress Leonie Smith is a talented and mesmeric performer and a vocal force to be reckoned with.
Her performances are characterised by a passion, energy and vocal range that seduces her audience. Already firmly established as one of Birmingham's most sought-after backing vocalists, Leonie is making a big impression with her live performances and is certainly a name to watch out for in the future. She has appeared as a backing vocalist for international reggae star Pato Banton, working with the Birmingham based toaster at a couple of British concerts in Birmingham and Bath and a small tour of Hawaii towards the end of 2005.
Twenty-eight year old Leonie's first real introduction to singing was at church, where she helped establish an a capella group called Unison, singing gospel music, and performed at various churches, venues and events
While attendning Joseph Chamberlain College in Highgate taking theatre studies, photography and video production, she was a member of the college choir. She also took a make-up artists diploma at the NEW college in Redditch and also studied holistic therapies at Sandwell College in West Bromwich.
After seven years with Unison, her first big singing break came when she joined the established Birmingham-based a capella group, Black Voices on a tour of South Africa in February 1998, which Leonie describes as a real eye opening experience.
At home in any genre of music, whether it be reggae, soul or jazz, Leonie can regularly be found performing with legendary guitarist Basil Gabbidon and his band, Gabbidon, or their lovers rock persona, TuffLuv, in and around the Midlands area. The band is the brainchild of lead guitarist Basil Gabbidon, a founding member of reggae legends Steel Pulse in the '70s. Gabbidon is an eclectic grouping of musicians hell bent on providing the audience with a good time with their fusion of reggae, rock, ska and jazz styles meshed along with catchy rhythms and soulful harmonies, with gigs taking place in clubs and venues across the Midlands and at festivals such as Reggae Rockz, Black History Month and Making Friends With Music. Each member of the band has their roots in the local Birmingham music scene and the line-up can alter depending on the particular performance. Basil's own career spanned four albums with Steel Pulse before he enjoyed success in the '80s and '90s with Bass Dance, alongside his brother Colin on drums and vocalist Lee Alexander, both now part of Gabbidon. The rest of the band are much-in-demand musicians like Leonie, who ply their talent across the Midlands with an assortment of combos, like Motown group Simply Blu for instance, playing various styles of music. TuffLuv is the lovers rock alter-ego of Gabbidon and both performed at the Reggae Rockz Festival in Birmingham in September 2005.
Gabbidon performed at the Mary Seacole Achievers Awards in Birmingham in October 2005 where Basil and his band were the closing act with vocalists from TuffLuv joining them including Leonie singing what has quickly become her trademark tune, the huge Janet Kay hit song, Silly Games. Leonie then backed Janet Kay and Caroll Thompson at an appearance at The Drum in April 2006, with Gabbidon providing the sound for the two Queens of Lovers Rock.
Leonie was back on stage for the Birmingham ArtsFest with Gabbidon in September 2006 and at their monthly residence at The Jam House in Birmingham. When she's not performing with Gabbidon or Simply Bl.
2006: Leonie is now part of the eight-piece Bob Marley tribute group Legend. . Watch out for this young woman, she's got an outstanding vocal range and has an equally strong and confident stage presence.