Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers are internationally recognized as one of the top bands in the world performing classic American jazz, swing, blues and R&B music from the mid-twentieth century.
Lavay and her group have toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Canada. They have performed at many of the top festivals, concert venues and nightclubs in the USA, and recently headlined Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City for a special New Year’s Eve show in December, 2014. Whether singing her own compositions or drawing on a large repertoire of classics, Lavay and her all-star band bake up an instant recipe for dancing and good times.
Acclaimed: Lavay Smith’s second CD received a rare and prestigious 4 & 1/2 star review in Downbeat magazine, the top international jazz publication. Important publications have sung the praises of Lavay Smith and her band, including The Los Angeles Times, Jazziz, The Boston Globe, Blues Revue, The New York Press, Living Blues, and the Alternative Press (see below for juicy quotes). Television and Radio appearances include “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer”, “Fox Files”, and NPR’s “To The Best of Our Knowledge”. World famous celebrities have jumped on the Lavay Smith bandwagon as well. Johnny Otis says “Lavay is wonderful! She and her band are a breath of fresh air.” Dan Aykroyd, a.k.a. Elwood Blues, says of Lavay’s debut album, “One Hour Mama”, “...this CD is guaranteed to make you feel better.” Even President Clinton has seen the light, proclaiming, “I love this band - they’re great!”
A True All-Star Band: Lavay’s group is universally respected for it’s world-class musicianship, and includes some of the top musicians on the scene today. Her bandmembers have played with Ray Charles, Etta James, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Santana, Wynton Marsalis, Big Mama Thornton, Taj Mahal, Van Morrison, Tito Puente, Steve Miller, Ramsey Lewis, Johnny Otis, Sy Oliver, Vince Guaraldi, Rufus Thomas, Rosemary Clooney, Anita O’Day and many other giants of American music.
Authentic Jazz & Blues: Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet are often called upon to present historical programs of music at world-class venues like Jazz at Lincoln Center and the SF Jazz Center/SF Jazz Festival (where they are the most-booked act in the organizations history). See the list below for more prominent venues.
Lavay Smith is the vocalist and bandleader of the Red Hot Skillet Lickers, one of the top swingin’ Jazz and Blues bands in the world.
Lavay grew up in Southern California and the Philippines and has become an internationally recognized Diva of Jazz and Blues, with a singing style influenced by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Bessie Smith, Little Esther Phillips and other legendary greats. Whether singing her own compositions or drawing on a large repertoire of classics, Lavay and her all-star band bake up an instant recipe for dancing and good times.
This sultry chanteuse evokes a sensuous era of Jazz queens and sexy pinups and adds a modern, feminist twist. No wonder Los Angeles Magazine chose her as one of the sexiest people around! Lavay began attracting crowds right from the start thanks to her big, bluesy voice, exciting stage personality, and glamorous approach. According to Fox TV, the band has become “a San Francisco Landmark”, winning numerous awards including a “Wammie” and a “Bammie”. In 1998, the reader’s of San Francisco’s two major newspapers, the Chronicle and the Examiner, voted Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers the “Best Band” in the annual readers poll.
Important publications have sung the praises of Lavay Smith and her band, including Downbeat, The Los Angeles Times, Jazziz, The Boston Globe, Blues Revue, The New York Press, Living Blues, and the Alternative Press (see attached pages for juicy quotes). Television and Radio appearances include Public Television’s “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer”, Fox TV’s “Fox Files”, and NPR’s “To The Best of Our Knowledge”. World famous celebrities have jumped on the Lavay Smith bandwagon as well. Johnny Otis says “Lavay is wonderful! She and her band are a breath of fresh air.” Dan Aykroyd, a.k.a. Elwood Blues, says of Lavay’s debut album, “One Hour Mama”, “...this CD is guaranteed to make you feel better.” Even President Clinton has seen the light, proclaiming, “I love this band - they’re great!”
Lavay’s second CD, “Everybody’s Talkin’ ‘Bout Miss Thing” incorporated a variety of classic American musical styles, including swing, bebop, salsa, jump blues, and New Orleans R&B. Enlisting the arranging talents of David Berger, arranger for Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, the album includes 6 outstanding original tunes, many classics and several obscure gems.
Lavay’s latest CD, “Miss Smith To You!” contains 12 tunes, including three more original songs, and features Lavay’s lush vocals with gorgeous arrangements performed by an all-star big band. From the opening swinging horn riff on “Miss Brown To You” to the New Orleans second-line rhythm of “When The Saints Go Marching In”, Lavay and her band have produced another winner, with a variety of tempos and grooves that will have you tapping your feet and singing along.
Lavay Smith’s band features some of the finest musicians in the world and is comprised of four horns (trumpet, trombone, alto saxophone and tenor saxophone), piano, bass and drums. Truly an all-star ensemble, Lavay’s musicians have performed or recorded with Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat “King” Cole, Sarah Vaughan, Quincy Jones, Tito Puente, Lionel Hampton, Jay McShann, Johnny Otis, Wytnon Marsalis, Big Joe Turner, Ray Charles, Big Mama Thornton, Erroll Garner, Charles Brown, Rosemary Clooney, Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Sinatra, Rufus Thomas, Taj Mahal, Dr. John, Sy Oliver, Esther Phillips and many more.
Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers maintain a busy schedule, including extensive touring throughout the United States, Europe, Canada and Japan. They have performed at many prestigious venues including Lincoln Center, the Monterey Jazz Festival, The Chicago Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz Festival, The Playboy Jazz Festival at The Hollywood Bowl, The San Francisco Blues Festival, The Toronto Jazz Festival, The Santa Barbara Jazz Festival, The Ottawa Jazz Fesitval, The Portland Waterfront Blues Festival, The San Francisco Jazz Festival, The Salt Lake City Jazz Festival, The Doheny Blues Festival and Jazz Aspen/Snowmass. When not on the road, Lavay and her band are showcased in the San Francisco Bay Area's premier nightclubs, including Yoshi’s, The Cafe du Nord, Biscuits & Blues, Enrico’s, Ashkenaz, Rancho Nicasio, Kuumbwa Jazz Center and Moe's Alley.
Lavay approaches her material from the standpoint of an independent woman, combining world-class singing and musicianship with hilarious, provocative lyrics. Lavay’s musical stance is echoed in her real life role as owner of her own record label, Fat Note Records. Her debut CD, “One Hour Mama” received widespread critical acclaim and her second CD, "Everybody's Talkin' 'Bout Miss Thing!" received a prestigious 4 & 1/2 Star review from Downbeat Magazine. Her red-hot stage presence and high musical standards ensure that this sexy diva will continue to light up stages all over the world.
Lavay Smith Press Quotes
“Lavay is wonderful! She and her band are a breath of fresh air. It is so unlikely and so exciting that a band would appear on the scene today that plays classic jazz and blues so well and so convincingly.” ---Johnny Otis, legendary R&B pioneer
“The San Francisco-based Lavay Smith & Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers are a notable exception to the retro-swing norm. The saucy vocalist and her eight-piece crew actually know the difference between jump music and bland R&B in corny suits. They have been a working unit since 1989 and sound as tight as the legendary musicians they choose to emulate.”
---Bob Blumenthal, Boston Globe
“A lush vocal style recalling both Bessie Smith and Dinah Washington.”
----Don Heckman, Los Angeles Times
“I love this band-they’re great!”
---President Bill Clinton