My name is Leah Smith and I am a multi-instrumentalist and composer native to the small town of Clover, South Carolina. I have been an instrument junkie since I was seven, acquiring and teaching myself new instruments every few years. In middle school I started playing around with digital audio recording and editing using Soundtrack Pro from my dad’s Final Cut Pro suite. I fell in love with the tedious process of audio editing and became quick with creating everything from short little ditties to dark, sweeping drones. From sixth grade through high school I participated in every extra-curricular band activity I could, and as a percussionist that grew to be quite a lot—marching band, symphonic band, jazz band, indoor drumline, percussion ensemble, women’s percussion ensemble, all state and region bands, and the occasional jam session with my “metal band” (which surprisingly never took off).
When it was time for college, I joined the theatre department at Winthrop University, our local liberal arts college. I had never done anything theatre related before and had only seen one play in my life. The sound design positions at Winthrop were non-competitive, to put it nicely. There was one sound design class offered every four years, one other student with any interest in designing sound, and she was scheduled to graduate at the end of my freshman year. So I was set up with a brand new Allen & Heath digital sound board to play on and the opportunity to work on any show I wanted. And that’s how it went. I either ran live sound or set up the audio systems (or sometimes both) for every mainstage musical produced, and I designed sound for several plays a year, both student and faculty directed.
To challenge myself further, I began composing original score in 2013, my junior year. I was cast in a play that I was sound designer for, Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl, directed by my very talented friend, Sydney Moore. I was Julian, the cellist on stage for the entire show. I didn’t play cello yet. But with five months of renting-to own my now favorite instrument and practicing my butt off, I not only got to add a new instrument to my list, but I had created original score for the first time.
Since then, I have composed original score for several full length plays and short films. My paid work began right back at Winthrop, when I was hired on after graduation as Scene Shop Supervisor. I composed score for two more full length plays as part-time faculty, and mentored students on live mixing for musicals (the systems of which I set up), on top of completing show builds and lighting plots for the shop. Around this time I also began freelance designing (sound and lights) in Charlotte at the Duke Energy Theater and Theatre Charlotte.
These days I spend my time competing in the occasional film festival, gigging around in local bands, writing solo music, and looking into graduate programs.