In preparation for this week, a poem by Robert Frost called “The Road Not Taken” came to mind. I will share one portion with you now.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.
Why was I thinking of that particular line in the poem? Perhaps it had to do with the artist feature this week, Antonique Smith. Her story is quite interesting as she is nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Traditional R&B Performance for her song “Hold Up Wait A Minute.” How she arrived at this plateau in her career is a little different than most. Many singers work hard to get a recording contract, maybe have several releases that are considered flops. Then, finally it all comes together for them and they get that nomination after years of work. However, Antonique Smith took a different path to get here. She started her career on the Broadway stage, and then several film and television roles. Now, while preparing her debut album, her initial release is nominated for the Grammy Award. Most of you know that I do not like to compare any artist to another. Yet, when I consider Antonique Smith’s background, I automatically think about two of my favorite singers Stephanie Mills and more recently Heather Headley. Both singers established themselves on the Broadway stage before successfully embarking on recording careers. The road to the Grammy Award includes another turn for Antonique Smith. Let’s take a closer look at the vocalist.
The East Orange, NJ native got a huge break in the beginning of her entertainment career. In 2002 Antonique Smith was cast by the legendary Sidney Lumet in the television series 100 Centre Street on A&E. Lumet praised Smith as “an amazing actress with a great career ahead of her.” The first of two very big opportunities in her career came in 2005 as she played Mimi Marquez in the Jonathan Larsen Broadway production of Rent. Smith became the poster girl for Rent, as her image was displayed on taxi cabs in NYC and posters across the country. She would continue in the role for two years. As she left the Broadway production in 2009, she planned to start her recording career. Then the second and even bigger opportunity arrived for Antonique Smith. She is now most famous for her role as Faith Evans in the film Notorious, based on the life of Evans’ late husband, rapper The Notorious B.I.G. She received rave reviews. The L.A. Times called her “delicious in the role” and Rolling Stone Magazine said she was “terrific”. Smith was also praised by critics, including Jeffery Lyons who called her “one to watch”.
Antonique Smith finally is getting the opportunity to record her own music after a stellar introduction on stage and screen. The singer/actress is getting quite a career jump start receiving the Grammy nomination. I have definitely enjoyed some of the interviews of Antonique Smith. Hardly new to critical acclaim and large audiences of fans, still Smith seems truly humbled to receive the attention because of the nomination. When a singer starts on the Broadway stage, there are some very important elements that develop and help the artist, especially when live performances become necessary. Vocal ability was never questioned when Antonique Smith decided to record music. In this day and age the singer must also be prepared to appear in music video; therefore Smith’s acting ability likewise was a major part of her preparation for the music industry. Much of Antonique Smith’s prior experiences are what I consider an alternative career path.
Today many young people dream of a career in music. However, they look at the most popular musicians and work toward that goal. Of course musical stardom takes much in the way of sacrifice and hard work as well as some fortuitous occurrences. However, to arrive at the point of Grammy Award nomination usually means a lot of dues have been paid, even if you are here in the category of New Artist. I say this because some may feel Antonique Smith recorded one song and received a Grammy nomination. True, but the young lady did arrive because she traveled a different road. Broadway and film performances provide a great backdrop for any artist, but definitely for Antonique Smith. As I listened to her describe the work going into her album, and all the people involved, I feel that this will be a “must have” type download. Over the years, even though on Broadway and the motion picture industry, Antonique Smith has made a lot of important musical contacts. Dr. Dre among other big names is working as producer on Smith’s album. This may be the first of many Grammy nominations to come for the sensational Antonique Smith.