^ Photo: Dean Opper
Canadian-born bassist Rhonda Smith has reigned as one of the industry’s most sought after touring and studio musicians for well over two decades. Though primarily known for her work as a rock and funk bassist, Smith is also an accomplished songwriter and classically trained multi-instrumentalist. Throughout the course of her enviable career, she has recorded and toured with many major artists including Chaka Khan, Beyoncé, T.I., Erykah Badu, Lee Ritenour, Jeff Beck, and most famously Prince with whom she spent nearly a decade. As a solo artist, Rhonda has released two solo records, Intellipop (2000), and RS2 (2006).
5 MINUTES WITH RHONDA SMITH
PRS: What would you say is the most valuable thing that you learned out on the road after years of touring with other artists?
RS: Be nice, be on time, and respect the music.
PRS: As a multi-instrumentalist, do you typically write songs on the bass, or do you initially sketch out tunes on a piano or guitar?
RS: It usually starts with a beat for me, then bass, then harmony that’s sometimes from a piano or sometimes from the bass... but I have written songs before with just a bass.
PRS: Who are the bassists who have influenced you the most historically, and who are your favorite current and emerging bass players?
RS: Stanley Clarke, Jaco Pastorius, Ray Brown, Ron Carter, Chris Squire, Geddy Lee, Louis Johnson & Larry Graham. There’s so much talent emerging from bass players these days, it’s impossible to have a favorite.
PRS: Of all the Grainger basses you own, we see you the most with your Tequila Sunrise 4-string, what sets this one apart from the others?
RS: My hands just loved this bass from the first time I played it. It wasn’t brand new, so it was aged a bit and it had tonal qualities that my other basses didn’t have. Each instrument is unique and this one IS. I love the wood selections and the neck and it’s very easy to play. It’s a comfortable beast.
PRS: What project(s) are you currently involved with at the moment?
RS: I have a new single “Won’t Come Back” & music video being released worldwide on November 12th and I’m finishing up a short bass teaching stint at USC.