I picked up my mom's guitar at about nine years of age and taught myself to play from records, the Joan Baez songbook and Alan Lomax's classic folk song book. I kept this up for a good long while and started writing songs in high school. For twenty years after my younger brother was murdered, I put away music and devoted my energy to anti-violence work. In the late 1990s I picked up the guitar again. When I started playing out in San Francisco I unexpectedly discovered a community of guitar-based songwriters and receptive audiences.
I like a song that goes from the sublime to the ridiculous and back again. My lyrics are mostly nonfiction because reality is so much stranger and more beautiful than fiction.
My first full-length studio album, People, Places and Sings is out now.
I recorded People Places & Sings in my hometown of Ojai, California with Martin Young producing. Martin's guitar and production work along with Alan Thornhill on acoustic guitar and vocals have lifted my songs to heights I never imagined. These are two master musicians who play with tremendous heart to match their great skills. Let me tell you a little more about them.
Martin Young (producer; acoustic, electric, high strung, slide guitars, and dobro; bass; Hammond B; percussion; keyboards) has worked throughout the U.S. in major markets and on national television shows including The Tonight Show, Letterman and Good Morning America. He backed country singer Clint Black on the road and in the studio (guitar, 16 years). Martin has also performed with Martina McBride, Don Henley and others. Martin produces independent artists’ custom CD projects and runs Music City Demos, based in Nashville, TN.
Alan Thornhill (vocals, acoustic guitar) has backed Hoyt Axton, Kate Wolf and Jim Messina. He is an award winning guitarist (The Telluride Fingerstyle Guitar Championship), an oft-covered songwriter and a unique and soulful singer. Alan has backed Hoyt Axton, Kate Wolf, Jim Messina; composed for Messina and Kenny Loggins and released three of his own CDs. Alan’s most recent release is Guitarpenter’s Dream on the Matilija label (2006).
Jimmy Calire on keyboards and Dennis Shives on harmonica really enrich my sound. For the album version of Make Love Not War, we also have Dave Francis on bass and Dennis Holt on drums recorded by Kenny Royster at Direct Image Studio, Nashville. There's a surprise live track too, wait'll you hear it! (Hint, "Thanks JJ Schultz and The Utah!)
The album was mastered by Eric Conn of Independent Mastering in Nashville, TN and it sounds great.
While you wait, my digital single version of Make Love Not War is out and being played on radio stations worldwide.
Thank you, Kickstarters!
"Nina Jo Smith has written and recorded a seminal folk classic in 'Hey Songwriter'.
This is what every songwriter feels when the song comes out of nowhere. Sure, we’re none of us 'Dylan, Taylor & Prine', but we’re fishing in the same stream, just downstream a bit. Produced by Martin Young, with Alan Thornhill on backup vocals, you’ll get goose pimples if you’ve ever wondered where some songs come from."
-–Stephen Foster, “Stephen’s Indie Picks”
"Nina Jo brings back everything I loved about the 1960s, the dream of peace, the power of love and a disdain for the war machine. This is a perfect time for that emotion to resurface, and her song "Make Love Not War" really hits the nail on the head... but with a flower instead of a hammer. Another thing I love about it is that I keep hearing Bob Marley in my head! I believe Bob would have loved this one as well."
-- Michael Buffalo Smith, http://universalmusictribe.com/
Here's a what you might see at a live show (performing with David Tyler in our Duo One Fret Away). See you in the music!