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Joe Smooth interviewed by Lenny Fontana for True House Stories # 082

Part 1
Joe Smooth was a self-taught musician and started creating original music at the age of 12. During his teenage years, he began to make a name for himself as a DJ in the underground Chicago House Music scene. He is credited as essential to the creation of house music as a genre and the revival of the culture surrounding it.

During his 20s he became an essential DJ for any viable club in Chicago.  Smooth gained international acclaim with the release of his late 1980s tracks “Promise LAnd” (featuring Anthony Thomas), “They Want to be Free,” and “I Try.” He is best known for “Promised Land,” which spoke of how humans, as brothers and sisters, should unite in love and thrive in paradise.

Joe Smooth’s song has been covered several times and is still played today. Originally released in 1987, it peaked at No. 56 in the UK singles Chart in February 1989, following the Top 40 success of a cover version by The Style Council. An album of the same title became available in 1988, and a music video was produced for the single. A follow-up album, Rejoice, was released in 1990, which featured the hit single “They Want to be Free.”

Part 2
Joe Smooth helped influence a decade of house and dance music elements in mainstream pop throughout the 1990s. By the new millennium he was approached to work with many pop, R&B, and other genre icons such as Destiny’s Child, Whitney Houston, and Cisqo. In October 2004, “Promised Land” appeared in the video game Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Within the game, the song could be heard playing on the fictional House Music radio station SF-UR.

He later launched his own record label Indie Art Music. The label has recently announced an upcoming song with Benny Benassi and other notable producers and artists. Indie Art Music set out with the goal of creating mainstream music in all genres with the ability to distribute, market, publish, and produce all within one single company.

While the focus is on mainstream areas of the industry, Indie Art Music is currently developing and working with new artists like Amy DB of Chicago, Greg Tanoose of Austin, among others. He continues to work with his label as the CEO, manager, and executive producer, while still releasing music of his own. Smooth is a musician and producer, who has worked as a remixer, producer, engineer, and writer.

He has earned gold and platinum record awards for his work, work behind the scenes with Grammy award-winning artists. Notable artists he has worked with include Bros, Whitney Houston, Donnell Jones, Destiny’s Child, Sisqo, Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, A Guy Called Gerald, Lil Louis, D’Bora, Tyree Cooper, Fast Eddie, Fingers Inc., Art Of Noise, Sterling Void, Pet Shop Boys, Janet Jackson, The Style Council, New Order, and Steve Hurley.

He launched a new record label in 2015, Indie Art Music, and has topped digital charts Traxsource and Beatport for song sales.

Joe Smooth YouTube Video Part 1

Joe Smooth YouTube Video Part 2

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Biography Joe Smooth

Since 1983 Joe Smooth has been considered one of the top DJ’s in Chicago, a highly skilled sound engineer, and world class certified platinum producer/composer/writer/re-mixer.

A self-taught musician from the age of 12, Joe Smooth is one of the pioneers of the style of music known today as house music. He has worked with such artists as Frankie Knuckles, Marshall Jefferson, Chip E, A Guy Called Gerald, Lil Louis , Tyree Cooper, Fast Eddie, The Art Of Noise, Sterling Void, The Pet Shop Boys, Janet Jackson, Atlantic Starr, New Order, Steve Hurley… and countless more.

At 18, he opened his first underground nightclub called east Hollywood Mannequins. At 20 he became the head DJ at the now world famous Smart Bar nightclub, his nights attracted 2,000 people and DJ’s Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy would come listen to Joe’s sets looking for music to take back and play at their clubs, Joe Smooth’s musical prowess was the one instrumental factor that shaped the atmosphere and mystique that still lives at Smart Bar going into it’s 34th year.

In 1985, the Limelight looked at Joe as the number one DJ in Chicago and propositioned Joe for their Chicago nightclub as musical coordinator. This is the year Joe Smooth also joined the DJ International Records family. After joining the DJ International family he quickly became a central force behind almost everything written or produced from this visionary label.

This included Co-producing The Jack Trax EP with Chip-E, the first record to use the words House and Jack. Many say this was the first true house record. Joe also Co-produced and mixed Frankie Knuckles first record the remake of “You Can’t Hide”.

In 1987 along with Limelight, he also started working for the soulful Charlie club nightclub as head DJ/musical coordinator and penned one of the greatest house anthems of all time “Promised Land”.

In 1988, with musical production work at a high Joe traveled abroad to put his concentration fully into his production, DJ gigs and Performing.

In 1990 returning to Chicago from great success abroad, Joe saw a need for a serious underground house club in Chicago and opened the very successful Warehouse nightclub, named in tribute to the legendary Warehouse nightclub of the late seventies and early eighties with partners Julian Perez and DJ Internationals founder Rocky Jones.

In 1994 Joe’s sought after talent led him to Rome to partner on a label called “Active Bass Music” with famous producer Claudio Donato. Which ran until 1999.

In 1999 Joe Smooth returned home to Chicago and did extensive work with Slang Music Group and Nu Soul until 2005. Joe’s work at Slang and Nu Soul would include projects featuring Whitney Houston, Donnell Jones, Destiny’s Child and Sisqo and earn a multitude of Gold and Platinum record awards.

From 2005 till today Joe’s “Obelisk Production Multimedia and Indie Art Music”” labels have released a string of house hits and has songs signed from worldwide artist such as Faith Evans, Syleena Johnson, K Ci and George Clinton, as well as more underground and up and coming artist and is currently in negotiations for worldwide distribution through the Universal Music Group network.

He is also one of the original organizers of Chicago’s Largest house music events held in Millennium Park yearly “The Chicago House Music Festival ” and “The House Legacy Project” attracting 50,000 plus over the Memorial Day weekend.

He is also one of the original organizers of Chicago’s Largest house music events held in Millennium Park yearly “The Chicago House Music Festival ” and “The House Legacy Project” attracting 50,000 plus over the Memorial Day weekend.