Soul music has been a means of empowerment for its artists and listeners since its inception six decades ago. That empowerment often comes through sharing the pain and adversity of life through performance.
That’s definitely how it works for Pittsburgh’s Lyndsey Smith & Soul Distribution, whose music implores listeners to stay motivated, stay strong and “Keep On Movin’.”
“Everything we write comes from a place of finding inner strength and sometimes letting yourself go, so that you can come to a place of happiness or peace,” says Smith, the band’s lead vocalist. “Sometimes you have to lose control a little bit in order to find that order and find that place of peace.”
The single “Keep on Movin’,” off the upcoming EP Rhapsodize Me, opens with a driving drum beat and horn section playing sharply concise notes in quick succession; Smith’s carrying vocals kick in a few measures into the joint. The song plays on its title, often stopping for an instant and bringing it all back to full strength a note later.
Smith attributes her strength as a person and as a singer to being a survivor of both domestic violence and a brain tumor. “Both of those elements, I had fought them for a while, and now I use them kind of as my motivation to push through,” she says. “It’s also the grit and the gravel behind my voice. It comes from a place of understanding and identifying with that pain.
“Whenever you hear a really, really hard line, that’s usually the mental space I use to inspire bringing it home.”
Now in her 10th year performing, Smith is raising four sons, working as a performing-arts teacher and vocal coach, and still finds time to get up on stage and belt out a set with Soul Distribution. Expect a dynamic lineup of tracks on Rhapsodize Me, with tones ranging from sensual to inspiring. As Smith puts it, it is an album that is “truly soul.”
“I was literally raised on soul music,” she says. “I was just constantly singing, period. I used to walk through the house, and everyone would tell me I didn’t go anywhere without singing. They used to have to tell me to shut up. All the time. All I used to do is sing.”
After five years of performing with Soul Distribution, Smith says she intends to take the band national. “I think the best feeling is knowing when you go to another city, there’s nobody that really knows you,” Smith says. “They haven’t seen you before. They don’t know what you do. When you’re able to change their minds, or even just stun them and shock them to the point that they start following you and telling other people about you, it is the absolute best feeling ever.”