Our next Songwriter Spotlight features Britton Smith. Britton has shared his soulful tunes on several performances with us over the last year and a half. He has appeared on Broadway in Shuffle Along and After Midnight, and is a founding member of Broadway Advocacy Coalition.
Did the process of writing a song based on someone else's real life differ from the way you usually write? If so, how?
The process is very similar to the work I do with Broadway Advocacy Coalition. Oftentimes, we’ll take narratives from individuals and create work around their experience to amplify their voices. On March 27th, we’ve been asked to present a 90 minute program to legislators at city hall who are convening for a national convention focusing on sanctuary cities. So I’m creating a piece with Solomon and a few other friends in the arts community, to expose what a nation void of immigrants truly feels and looks like. Its a very exciting project much like this one.
What about the concert excites you most?
I want to see the audiences' reactions to these stories. And I want the art to really engage them into who these people really are. I hope that everyone can see past their experiences and connect to these youths' hearts and aspirations and hopes for life.
How do political and social justice issues influence your work?
Political issues totally influence my work. I used to write about love and hopes. Now I right about love, hope for true liberation, hope for freedom, love of democracy and equal rights. My pencil has more power because it's expressing more than my lifetime desires. It’s writing for my ancestors and my future children who I hope can grow up better equipped to fight against bullshit.
What can artists do to resist oppression?
They can show up to civically engaged meetings and forums. They can lend their time. They can teach in neighborhoods where culture and arts are limited. Artists are incredibly important here. They should first focus on their own oppression and identify its roots. Then, they should look around and see how many other people are feeling that same oppression. This realization should enable them to act. If it doesn’t, then the artist is asleep.
Check out Britton performing his song "Water Run" with us:
Get your tickets to hear Britton with us live here.